It was at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in 2013 that I first tried DriveClub.
It was to have been one of the launch games for PlayStation 4. However, it has taken nearly a year from the launch of PS4 for DriveClub to drift into gamers' hands.
DriveClub probably has the most gorgeous graphics of any racing game. While none of the tracks in the game exists in real life, you wish they did. All these virtual tracks, from India to Norway, are breathtakingly beautiful and rendered with amazing details and smooth textures.
The lighting effects are just as sublime. You can see the glare of the sun slowly skimming your dashboard as you round a corner, while your competitors' paintwork basks in the glory of the sun's rays.
Each car is amazingly and intricately reproduced. The attention to detail goes all the way through the interior of each car with its unique steering wheel, dashboard, tachometer and other meters.
During a race, the cockpit view shows the tachometer's indicator moving when you rev, the speedometer's indicator swings frantically as you corner and your avatar's pinky twitches when you turn the steering wheel.
However, the uninspiring music soundtrack dampens this visual feast.
DriveClub sits between arcade racer and driving simulator. There is no racing line assist, no rewind feature, no tweaks to your car's suspensions and no changing gear differentials.
There is a good mix of about 50 cars - from the Volkswagen Beetle to the Aston Martin V12 Vantage S.
While you can feel the difference in handling between cars, all the cars tend to have too much grip and traction.
To unlock more cars, you need to gain credits during your races to level up. During a race, challenges will be dotted throughout the track. It could be executing a perfect drift or clocking the fastest speed against a friend's timing or a stranger's. Such challenges help you to earn credits.
You also gain credits by drifting, overtaking your competitors or taking a perfect driving line in races.
However, you will be penalised for vehicle impact, getting out of track or cutting corners. Herein lies the biggest problem with DriveClub.
In single-player mode, your competitors seem to have a knack of crashing into you even when you are holding your racing line. So, you get penalised nonetheless, even when it is not your fault. It is the same in multi-player mode.
Another disadvantage is that in some races, you will be driving in bright sunlight in one lap and in pitch darkness the next. It is rather disorientating.
Single-player mode provides plenty of tours, modes and challenges. However, DriveClub is about social interaction. You can start your own driving club and ask your friends to join you.
Some cars can be unlocked only by levelling up your club. Rewards are shared among members. Your individual achievements help your club to level up.
All this is well, unless the server crashes, then you can race only in single-player mode.
In addition, the challenges and driving can get repetitive and make you switch to Gran Turismo 6 instead.
- $69.90 (PlayStation 4 only)
- Driving simulation
This article was first published on Jan 07, 2015.
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