I’ve been waiting to play, to really play, this game for a long time. If you’re a Playstation 4 user reading Autoblog, short odds say you have, too.
Driveclub is the first splashy, big-budget, heavily promoted racing title for the PS4. It was initially supposed to be a launch title for that system almost exactly one year ago, before a series of delays pushed the debut back until, well, last week. The product of the minds at Evolution Studios (you might recognize the outfit for its MotorStorm and WRC franchises), Driveclub has been touted as the driving/racing game most perfectly crafted to take advantage of the social, always-online nature of this new generation of consoles.
The eponymous “club” is the hook on which the game hangs; a collection of you and five of your tightest gamer homies, winning races, creating and completing challenges, earning money-like Fame points and all wearing the same paintjobs. With all of that wrapped up in what the studio calls an “incredible, authentic and immersive driving experience,” and powered by Sony’s impressive hardware, expectations for Driveclub have been high to say the least.
So, fresh from a few weeks of non-stop Forza Horizon 2 play – the surprisingly direct competitor for the Xbox One – I booted up and got to work. (Yes, guys, this counts as work).
No sooner had I started playing than the creeping certainty of disappointment began to descend.
Driveclub starts you off seconds before your first race is set to begin, with nothing more than a probable understanding of how racing controls usually work, and that aforementioned expectation of a lot of fun to be had. After all, this game was delayed by a year, right? Certainly the developers spent the time making sure every last tire, exhaust note and circuit corner was dialed in?
Not so, sadly. Visually, the game immediately struck me as a level below the rich, glossy environs that envelop the latest iterations of the Forza series. That’s a high bar, but one which Driveclub can’t quite clear. The landscapes around the tracks, even in the meandering cut scenes that precede each event, are pretty enough in the broad view, but break down into a lot of fuzzy edges and overly dark vistas once the action begins. Cars themselves have been handled somewhat better in terms of rendering, it must be said, though still without the inch-over-inch perfection of the best competitive titles. You catch some of that in the gameplay footage below, but it’s more evident if you’ve just booted up Horizon 2 for comparison sake.
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