DriveClub Review

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Posted October 14, 2014 by John Newby in Video Games

Developed by: Evolution Studios

Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment

Release Date: October 7, 2014

Available on: Playstation 4

Racing has been the lifeblood of the Playstation platform since Gran Turismo was released in 1997. Something about driving fast in realistic cars was exciting, even with the less than amazing graphics. However, there hasn’t been a new Gran Turismo released with the Playstation 4, so racing fans have been left wanting. Evolution Studios is looking to fill this void with their latest release DriveClub, but does the game maintain the same level of quality?

DriveClub is a racing game that attempts to blend together arcade and simulation racing in order to make an enjoyable experience for all fans of racing. Evolution sticks to the stricter elements of racing with more realistic handling and locked in tracks, but aims for the arcade crowd with drifting and a removal of driving lines. The result isn’t always successful, but DriveClub does work well as an entry point to more serious racing games.

DriveClub may not have an actual story or explanation, but apparently your character is a hippie-looking dude who has access to multiple high-end cars and racetracks. This character also has a need for speed (no pun intended) and a goal of obtaining all manner of fancy cars in high-end races against formidable (?) opponents.

These races take you across multiple countries like Norway, India, Scotland, and Canada with the sole goal of winning with as many points as possible. In order to gain points during races, you have to drive quickly and cleanly while avoiding other racers. You can gain extra points by drifting around corners, drafting behind other racers, or winning Face Off challenges created by Evolution Studios. These Face Off challenges simply involve gaining more style points than another racer by following a driving line, averaging a higher speed, or hitting a fancier drift. Winning these challenges will get you points and also earn all-important stars.

The points may unlock new cars and paint jobs, but the stars are actually more essential to DriveClub because they unlock the next tracks in Tour Mode (DriveClub’s main campaign). DriveClub has three main race types that make up this Tour Mode. There are regular races against competitors, time trials for speed, and drift challenges for points. Each race has between 3 and 9 stars that can be earned for a total of 225, but most are pretty difficult to earn. The majority of stars can only be earned by finishing in the top 3 positions, earning a ton of style points, or finishing a race with an exceptionally fast time.

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A standard list of objectives

As you earn points and stars to unlock new aspects of DriveClub, you quickly discover that the game takes a drastic leap in difficulty. About halfway through the game, the AI racers get faster to a frustrating degree, at least until you unlock better cars. So how do you unlock new cars if you can’t beat the races? Thankfully, DriveClub has a Single Event mode that also ties into the Tour Mode. This comes in handy because you can set up a random, unique race and earn extra points and cars. All you have to do is repeat until your racer has leveled up enough to unlock whatever cars are needed to further the campaign.

Of course, you can also lose points by hitting other cars, running into the track, or simply driving through the dirt or grass. Unfortunately, this ability to lose points brings up a central problem with DriveClub and its Artificial Intelligence. Evolution Studios is a great name for a company, but it’s more ironic when the created racers function like AI characters in 1998. There is no uniqueness to the AI in DriveClub, which is a gigantic pain when you are working on specific goals or trying fancy maneuvers. All of the cars are magnetized to one specific driving line, and they follow it all times, no matter the circumstances. More often than not, you will try to pass these cars during a race, and they will simply slam into your car as they travel along the predetermined path. Most of the time, your car will fly off track and you’ll have to restart the race. The worst part is that every time another car hits you, DriveClub decides to penalize you with a “Collision Penalty” and 3-5 seconds of limited acceleration. The same thing happens when the cars slam you off the track in the middle of a corner. Only this time, you will be penalized with a “Corner Penalty” and limited acceleration. If you are lucky, DriveClub will hit you with both penalties at the same time.

I got in the way of the AI driving lines.

I got in the way of the AI driving lines.

Of course, DriveClub does technically have a multiplayer mode for competitive racing, as well as a creatable online Club, but it doesn’t function. At this moment, the online aspects of DriveClub are completely broken thanks to random server issues. Evolution has promised that the servers will be fixed and weather effects will be patched in, but it hasn’t happened yet. So far, it’s impossible to play anything other than single player, which is quite unfortunate for a multiplayer-focused game.

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According to the red text, the servers are still broken.

I do have to mention that DriveClub is one beautiful game. Both the cars and the environments are fantastic to look at, and each level starts with a fancy flyover of a beautiful vista. Unfortunately, these beautiful cars almost feel wasted with the absolute lack of customization options. The only option for changing the cars is the paint, and even this option is limited. Each car has 1 stock paint option, a club paint option, and 3 random racing paint jobs—all of which are hideous. It seems strange that Evolution would only include a single customization option when they are trying to compete with Gran Turismo and Forza.

Don’t misunderstand; DriveClub is a fun game…at times. The racing works fairly well, and it’s very fun to cruise around unique locations with a huge variety of cars. One of the best moments in the game happens when you are hauling ass down a mountain in a Ferrari California or Alfa Romeo 4C with the scenery just flying by. However, the other cars tend to get in the way, so the more entertaining races are single player time trials or point-to-point checkpoints. DriveClub would be a phenomenal game if it had better AI and actual customization options.


About the Author

John Newby

A random dude obsessed with coffee, blue heelers, and most nerdy things. Big fan of Star Wars, Borderlands, Arrow/Flash, and a whole lotta video games. The Saboteur is underrated, and Silverado is the best movie ever made.