Xbox 360 Review: Driver: San Francisco

Driver is back, but is this sequel San-tastic or a car crash?

The story of Driver: San Francisco is truly insane. You play as John Tanner, a cop on the chase for a escaped criminal by the name of Charles Jericho. Tanner is involved in a car crash and ends up in a coma, but his story just begins as you enter Tanner’s mind as he is unaware he is in a coma and can possess drivers at will. It doesn’t make any sense, but if you can get past the ridiculous plot, Driver is a highly enjoyable racer and it handles well.

Switching between cars is simple and it’s a good idea from a gameplay point of view, it’s a new take on how to handle races, car chases and stunts and it’s a welcome one for the series that frankly had lost its way by this point, so it was a risk worth taking.

San Francisco is an open sandbox with tons of missions to do, although story missions only unlock after you complete city missions, although it gives you time to unlock over 100 licensed cars. There is also a decent multiplayer with modes like Tag and CTF, which would normally be standard but with the Shift mechanic; adds a new dimension. Some abilities will be unlocked through gaining enough experience and there’s also a split-screen mode for those who want to compete on the sofa.

The city opens up a little bit more as you play, so it’s not all accessible to you at first. Which is both good and bad in that it makes you work to unlock the city, but it doesn’t give you full free-roaming till it decides to let you.

Vehicles handle well and it’s good to see licensed cars in the game. In terms of presentation, Driver is a nice looking game and San Francisco is nicely detailed, but the character models are average and the script is laughably bad at times. There is a decent soundtrack included which makes up for the poor voice-acting, but I can’t blame the actors since the story is just so ridiculous. Once you stop taking the story seriously, it’s a highly enjoyable game.

The Verdict

Driver: San Francisco is a good game and Ubisoft have taken a huge risk in changing the dynamic of what the series is about, but it ultimately pays off with some superb gameplay, even though the plot is just madness, it’s not important because the game is fun to play. I wasn’t expecting to like the game at all, but instead I highly recommend it to anyone who likes racing games with a twist. Let’s hope this isn’t the last we see of Driver…