When I saw that one of Xbox’s free gold games of the month was a racing game, I was disappointed. Ever since Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 on the Nintendo Gamecube, racing games left me either frustrated, bored, or frustrated by how bored I was.
Driver: San Francisco starts out like any other racing game. You play as a cop chasing the bad guy through the streets of a city, trying to avoid other cars and sharp hairpin turns. Everything after the first 15 minutes of game play is wildly different than other racing games I’ve played.
While in a chase with his arch nemesis Charles Jericho, Detective John Tanner’s car is hit by a semi-truck. From that point the character is thrown into a coma induced dream world where Tanner learns he has the powers to “shift” or leave his body and jump into any car on the road.
It took about two hours of game play to fully understand the benefits of shifting and from that point on, Driver: San Francisco turns from a classic racing game to one necessitating quick thinking strategic moves and even quicker reflexes. Any race or police chase mission can be passed easily with the help of a few well-placed busses in the route of enemies.
Driver: San Francisco is filled with hundreds of missions after the main story is completed, and with over a hundred models of cars and the ability to travel throughout one of America’s most iconic cities, it could be one of the best racing games available.
Where the game falls short however, is coincidentally enough, in the driving mechanics. It’s not enough to break the game, but it does make it less enjoyable than it could be. In order to turn anywhere, using the handbrake is an absolute must, which often leads to your enemies catching up to you in a hurry.
The abilities you can upgrade, such as boosting, quicker recharge of ability meter, and ramming power, offer added enjoyment, but are barely necessary to complete the story. The game offers a huge catalog of cars available to the users, but is only there for side missions.
Overall, Driver: San Francsico is an entertaining racing game with an intriguing storyline and fun mechanics set in one of the most iconic cities in the United States. The in-game mechanics take some getting used to and the story ends a bit too abruptly; however, with countless side missions available after the main story and nineteen split screen and online multiplayer game types, there’s enough room to enjoy this game for hours on end.
– Connor Gall