As with previous entries, you’re John Tanner, ex-race car driver and undercover cop. After the events of Driver 3, your nemesis Jericho is behind bars. Tanner and his buddy cop partner, Tobias Jones, have volunteered to escort the motorcade with Jericho to his trial. Jericho manages to hijack the prison truck transporting him all thanks to a rocket launcher, beautiful assassin, and a news chopper watching overheard. The chase that follows is reminiscent of old 1970’s detective movies with very well done chase cinematics. The unfortunate end of this chase leaves Tanner in a coma. No I didn’t just spoil the game for you; Ubisoft Reflections made it very apparent in the early game that this is all in Tanner’s head. The fun comes in watching the story progress and witnesses Tanner discover this on his own. Tanner immediately realizes he has some sort of psychic abilities that he can use to posses other drivers in the city. The story is engaging and stars a cast that gives a top notch performance with a fantastic cinematics. The whole buddy cop and 70’s car chase film are really felt throughout the game and gives the game some personality. Tanner’s ability to shift is quite the change for the racing genre and an experience that’s a whole lot more entertaining than previous entries in this series.
The game is open-world and you can hop into any car you find. If you hop into a car with a passenger, expect to be greeted with some witty lines, sometimes. I remember jumping into a cop car and the female driver said something along the lines of, “and I used to be a man. Please don’t tell anyone.” Boy did that catch me and her partner off guard. The main game is filled with various missions needed to complete to unlock new bits of the story. Everyone in San Francisco has some problem, and super Tanner is here to help. Take for example two Asian brothers racing their way to pay for college or keeping a bus over 50 miles per hour before it blows. Or hey, how about them crazy bomb disarming missions that require you to drive under tractor trailers. There is just a wide variety of things to do.
The driving is solid and the cars handle fairly well. It feels like a mix of simulation and a blend of arcade drifting. Overall it made the driving very fun; just remember you have to brake before turns. One of the old racing mantras still stands here, slow is fast. Except in the dirt, nothing is fast or drivable on dirt, ever. Physics wise, things stay true to the real world; front wheel drive vehicles understeer and rear wheel drive vehicles oversteer. Each vehicle has its own unique performance and they all feel like they should drive, I mean, an Aston Martin Cygnet isn’t going be flying around the city the same way a Ford GT would.
The attention to detail for all the cars is welcomed. Interiors are highly accurate, sounds are believable, and this game has some of the best burnout smoke I’ve ever witnessed. The amount of effort put into the small details won’t go unnoticed by the car guys and gals. The assortment of cars is some of the best I’ve seen in a racing game. Sure it’s not the same amount as your Forzas or Gran Turismos, but they have your everyday cars that give this city a feeling of believability. You’ll find Impalas, Beetles, Tauruses, Towncars, Neons, and an assortment of Audis just to name a few. The game doesn’t forget performance cars either so if you want to weave in and out of traffic in a McLaren F1 or Bugatti Veyron, by all means hop in one.
There are some pretty wacky multiplayer modes to choose from like follow the leader and tag. In follow the leader, you and five other players are following in the coat tails of a DeLorean. Stay behind it the longest and you win. In Tag you try to run away from the other players trying to tag you. The players can Shift between cars to try and catch the lead car off guard. The plain old point A to point B racing is represented as well but the crazy times are to be had in the other modes.
So doctor, will Driver be ok? Son, Ubisoft Reflections has done a miracle here today and has revived the almost dead Driver series.