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Driveclub Review

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Graphics:

 

9.3

Gameplay:

 

7.0

Sound:

 

8.5

Control:

 

7.2

Replay Value:

 

7.5

Online Gameplay:

 

8.0

Overall Rating:       7.6

 

 

Publisher:

SCEA

Developer:

Evolution Studios

Number Of Players:

1-4

Genre:

Racing

Release Date:

October 7, 2014

As I sat, enjoying the view and appreciating the blend of simulation and arcade, I kept asking myself: "Is this what Evolution wanted to produce? Is this what I wanted to play?" These are two very common questions any good critic asks before approaching a review, but I realized I had some difficulty with the answers. For the most part, developers always promise the world, so a game can frequently feel underwhelming based on that hype. But I should at least be able to answer the second question, right? Well, not quite...

First up, the graphics: These are undoubtedly some of the most impressive visuals you will ever see and quite frankly, they're the only aspect of Driveclub that is "next-gen" in my estimation. The cars and amazingly detailed, the backgrounds are meticulously and lovingly crafted, and the effects are spot-on. Sometimes I think they tried a little too hard, thereby creating an environment that looks kinda like an unreal photograph. But can I really dock a game for looking too good? The bottom line is that despite a few lackluster tracks (and occasionally boring track design), the graphics are excellent.

The sound is similarly impressive, although the audio lacks that pinpoint accuracy of a true simulator. Throughout my time with the game, I kept thinking of Need for Speed; the franchise is more arcade-y, but the games always excel in the sound category. Some of the engine sounds and crash effects are a bit sharper in Evolution's production, though. The soundtrack doesn't necessarily take center-stage - and it doesn't have to - but I suppose it could've been more inspired. It's not exceptionally well-orchestrated or implemented but it's plenty polished, like the rest of the game. Technically speaking, it's unlikely you'll find much fault.

As is the case with any racing game, it really comes down to control. Once you've established the type of racer, you start to evaluate the physics and dynamics. Here, we're talking about a hybrid experience that has the pick-up-and-play accessibility of an arcade-style racer, but some of the authentic touches you typically find in simulators. Sometimes, developers just can't get the balance right but in this case, I think it works. Evolution successfully mixes a relatively high fun-factor with the intricate details hardcore drivers will appreciate. I suppose the only question is whether or not it appeals to both arcade and sim fans...or if it appeals to neither.

Being used to Gran Turismo, I initially found the driving to be simplistic. But the more you play, the more you start to appreciate that accessible blend. High-powered rear-wheel drive cars are a little too easy to control around turns, and acceleration and turning is a shade over the line into fantasy. It's not Daytona USA, though, and most gamers won't have a problem with the unrealistic bent. Besides, there are times when you're too busy gawking at the graphics to dissect the control. Some areas aren't as finely honed as others, but there are glimpses of visual genius.

The interiors of the cars, for instance, are pretty darn special. From rear-facing cameras to custom door paneling and even visible windshield wiper marks, there's a lot to like about the cabin view. I'm aware that this is more of a visual analysis, but bear in mind that graphics play a significant role in any racer. If you want to feel fully immersed, you really have to believe just about every element of the presentation, and it helps if the interior of a car is picture-perfect. Yes, your attention is on the road, but having that incredible interior inevitably draws you further into the experience.

There are a total of 50 cars in the full version of the game, although it's important to note that you really need to like European cars. There's only one American car and there aren't any Japanese cars at all. This is beyond bizarre because you're supposed to be racing all over the world, so why are we restricted to cars from one region? Granted, Europe is a very large territory and literally hundreds of different cars are made in the European region, but we need variety. The only upside is that presumably, Evolution will add more cars in the future. Maybe they should start with a couple packs, one each for Japanese and American vehicles.

Now, there are no performance upgrades or any mechanical tweaking; it's all cosmetic. It's hard to say if this is a major downfall or not; again, it comes down to your expectations and what you want in a racing game. Some people couldn't possibly care less about altering gear ratios while others won't get behind the wheel unless they've attended to every possible detail. I think it would've been nice to have at least some mechanical modding, though. The only problem is that it's difficult to make such a feature optional because those who ignore it will undoubtedly be at a disadvantage. It's a development choice, that's all.

The different tracks are great but they don't boast the best track design I've ever seen. Still, they're so wonderfully constructed in terms of graphical presentation that you almost don't care. I can't wait to see more exotic locations in the future, along with more cars. As such, I almost want to treat Driveclub as a starting point rather than a finished product (ala Destiny), but this really isn't an MMO, despite its social angle. I'm aware that more can be added as time goes on and in one year's time, this could end up being a much more comprehensive and fulfilling experience. Just bear that in mind when driving around, going, "Cool, but is this it?"

The racing itself is well done, although I was surprised at the blatantly aggressive nature of the AI. This leads to perhaps the biggest flaw, which is the implementation of a speed-slowing penalty. This occurs when you trade some serious paint with another racer but there are two problems: Firstly, even if you're the one who got hit, you suffer the penalty (the AI never gets the penalty), and second, it's just plain inaccurate. There are times when a hard smash won't result in the penalty, but a love-tap will incur the speed-slowing. It's not a deal-breaking problem but it is noticeable.

What's even more noticeable is the lack of single-player involvement. Yes, there's a progression system in place and that involves races, time trials and drift events. And I've always enjoyed the inclusion of the social aspect that has you trying to beat a friend's time (or score). The best part is that you receive valuable experience based on where you are on the leaderboard, which means you'll be receiving a constant stream of XP even when you're not racing. Cool, huh? But while all of this is attractive, I can't help but notice that if you just want to play solo - no times or scores to beat, nobody to race against, etc. - the experience feels too light. It won't take long for you to unlock all 50 cars and as far as the campaign aspect is concerned, that's about it.

That being said, you can't discount the attractive social and multiplayer elements. You can join or create your own online racing team, and rewards are shared among members of the club. You can level up the entire club, but this requires an active group of racers who...well, don't suck. Each member can attempt individual challenges and help the club along, and it feels like an engaged, robust feature. It's absolutely critical, too, because once the solo content dries up, you're going to be counting on these social aspects. As time goes on, they'll get better and deeper, so the game's future is actually pretty bright. Maybe we just need to be patient.

Driveclub isn't exactly a triumph but it's a polished, very entertaining game that delivers an adrenaline-filled good time. The fun factor remains high throughout, the amazing detail - in both the background and the cars themselves - is a definite accomplishment of note, and the social features are extremely attractive. The solo content doesn't quite cut it, though, and the AI is occasionally too aggressive. You've also got a car list that is almost exclusively European, which is more than a little surprising. In short, I can't say I'm disappointed with the end result, as I had plenty of fun and the refinement is obvious. It just needed to be fleshed out more.

The Good: Excellent graphics and intricate detail. Solid audio and sound design. Well-developed blend of accurate and arcade-y physics. Cool social and multiplayer features. Accessible and fun. Lots of future potential.

The Bad: Not enough single-player content. Collision/penalty system is flawed. Car list is almost entirely European. Overall experience feels a little light.

The Ugly: "Almost too pretty for any semblance of ugly."

10/9/2014 Ben Dutka

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New Comment System


Legacy Comment System (35 posts)


Corvo
Thursday, October 09, 2014 @ 10:26:02 PM
Reply

...Ben...are you racist?

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, October 10, 2014 @ 1:06:49 AM

...what?

Agree with this comment 3 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

startazz
Sunday, October 12, 2014 @ 4:40:44 PM

Why would you say that? you can't really say that with out saying why,i still think you mean Biased instead of Racist,but unless you answer the WHY comment then we will never know i guess.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, October 09, 2014 @ 10:29:34 PM
Reply

This might actually be for me. I just want to cruise and chill.

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daus26
Thursday, October 09, 2014 @ 10:32:40 PM

I think the crew would suit better for that. Not much feel of cruising n chilling here. You'd be too busy with live challenges, mission objectives n aggressive AI during race.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, October 09, 2014 @ 10:42:34 PM

Can I turn races off? I don't wanna race.

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Solid Fantasy
Thursday, October 09, 2014 @ 11:06:40 PM

That would be nice, but it may be worth it to wait for a new Burnout. The kind of game where you can hold down the turbo and close your eyes. Then count to see how long you can last before your car crumbles in slow motion.

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Temjin001
Friday, October 10, 2014 @ 1:56:19 AM

world, its an arcade racer with events to be won and added conditions in races to be met. there's no joy riding or cruising ive seen unless youre okay doing nothing the game is asking you to do. but as daus said, something like the crew or even gta may do you well.

Last edited by Temjin001 on 10/10/2014 1:58:33 AM

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berserk
Friday, October 10, 2014 @ 6:33:14 AM

Ya , the crew is the game for you .Saw a stream where they only did an hour long roadtrip and it was mostly in a strait line :)

You could just cruise and get lost for hours going where the wind takes you .

Last edited by berserk on 10/10/2014 6:34:54 AM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, October 10, 2014 @ 8:51:54 AM

The Crew huh? Thanks guys. Actually yes I'm cool not doing anything the game wants me to unless I want to earn money to buy new car stuff. It saves me gas money and I might want to drive under the influence (with my wheel of course for authenticity).

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daus26
Thursday, October 09, 2014 @ 10:30:02 PM
Reply

Pretty much agree with everything. Good review.

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SaiyanSenpai
Thursday, October 09, 2014 @ 11:33:12 PM
Reply

Great review, Ben! Thorough and spot on.

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FAREEZ
Thursday, October 09, 2014 @ 11:47:58 PM
Reply

Knack fail
Killzone sf fail
Infamous 2nd son good
Driveclub fail
Spider-Man 2 2014 movie fail
Good job Sony, can't wait for 2015...

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sawao_yamanaka
Thursday, October 09, 2014 @ 11:53:49 PM

FAREEZ trolling fail.

Can't wait for next year when we have better commenters on here than these trolls.

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Gamer46
Friday, October 10, 2014 @ 12:47:42 AM

I don't see any trolling. Outside of inFamous and MLB The Show, Sony's first party showing has been pathetic.

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sawao_yamanaka
Friday, October 10, 2014 @ 10:09:48 AM

No, it is a trolling attempt. Instead of stating as to why they were bad, of he actually played them, he just posts an idiotic comment with no substance. That is trolling 101.

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Beamboom
Friday, October 10, 2014 @ 11:23:25 AM

Sawao, he were a troll only to fanboys. For the rest of us the list seem fair enough. If you need reasons why, go read the reviews.


Last edited by Beamboom on 10/10/2014 11:28:25 AM

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Fabi
Friday, October 10, 2014 @ 11:59:56 AM

I kinda agree. While Killzone and Infamous didn't suck by any means, they were far from being killer. A big trend I'm seeing now is previews hyping up games like crazy and then when you see the review from the same site, they knock it for things they were going bat shit insane for.

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wiiplay [Administrator]
Friday, October 10, 2014 @ 5:09:20 PM

I agree with Knack, but that's it.
I love Killzone Shadow Fall, and even liked the newest Spider-Man movie. In fact, I'd say the newest Spider-Man was one of the best movies I've seen so far this year.

I really liked Second Son, but it got old really fast, and had no replayability.
I can't comment on Drive club, but I have a feeling I'll like this game, too.

The only fail for me was Knack. I sold that after a day. It was just horrid.

Otherwise, Sony's doing pretty well for themselves.

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DemonNeno
Thursday, October 09, 2014 @ 11:56:17 PM
Reply

Well done, Ben! A competent review worthy of the read (and the score)!

I'm thinking about this game a lot. Despite my defensive nature of developers running into horrendous luck/circumstances, I'm not quite sure what to make of the game.

I'm thinking that's a good thing, though. It's like buying a car that's new to you, yet old to the world. Every blemish seems like a challenge worthy of claiming a victorious win. Every nod you get feels special for some odd reason, because it may have blemishes, but someone REALLY cared about taking pride in the energy put into it.

I'm not sure how much meaningful fun the game will ultimately have in a year from now. However, Evolution really seems set on sending the car polish to you, free of charge, to remind you how much it CAN shine.

I kinda like that. A virtual hangout for Gearheads who are too busy to tinker around with settings for hours, days, or weeks.

Last edited by DemonNeno on 10/9/2014 11:57:12 PM

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Temjin001
Friday, October 10, 2014 @ 2:50:52 AM
Reply

I'm really REALLY impressed by the graphics on this one. I feel like they set the bar so high that GT may have a hard time matching it at a 60fps standard. I could just go on explaining why but I wont.
I just wish Codemasters handled the arcade style physics. For me an arcade racer needs a good drift mechanic and this one has the cars feeling too heavy and too grip'ish too often. Like some of the cars with higher drift specs still get caught under their own weight too soon, like just past mid way through what would look like the start of a good drift.
It's no Grid 2 to me but it's still good. I feel it falls short of greatness because of the lack of car variety. Yea, I know a Ford Mustang is a big tank but I still want one for the sport grade races. I really do like the track variety both in how varied the courses feel and many of the track designs. But even then, I feel like it's missing rural inner city driving. Those city center tracks with more flats and and hairpins and less slopes/chicanes and undulations (something this game does very well with).
the music is just awful. occasionally there's an okay track but most of the time it just blows. It's good they turned it off by default. But why no custom soundtrack option?
I still can't get the game online because the servers are always down for me in the northwest.
Anyway, the graphical showcase for me is enough to make me feel happy and contented with it, especially for the fact it was a tax-free $50.

I just hope Evolution takes this graphics engine and applies it to a Motorstorm. That's a sort of racer we don't get enough of where Drive Club feels like an answer to a question nobody asked. In that I don't think it filled any gaps on this side of the racing venue.


Last edited by Temjin001 on 10/10/2014 2:52:48 AM

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daus26
Friday, October 10, 2014 @ 6:06:16 AM

GT6 runs 1440x1080p at 60fps (although some drops here n there), with a rendering method known as adaptive tesselation, while being able to support 16 premium cars (many of which are more detailed than Driveclub's cars) in a single race, with added weather and time change as well as thousands of calculation per second from it's advance physics..... all running on the PS3. Let's just say I have high hopes for it.

While Driveclub may have more detailed environments in the far distance, I think GT will triumph Driveclub in overall visuals.

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sawao_yamanaka
Friday, October 10, 2014 @ 10:11:15 AM

Except that weather and lighting is more baked on in gta 5 and 6. It isn't a realistic simulation like in driveclub. You can play thousands of races and never see the same weather in driveclub.

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Temjin001
Friday, October 10, 2014 @ 3:36:47 PM

that's all well and good Daus, but can you tell me why my Z-axis rotation won't work on this transform I'm doing in OpenGL?

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Temjin001
Friday, October 10, 2014 @ 3:55:23 PM

TOO LATE! HAHA FIGURED IT OUT! YES. YES OH YES. PLATINUM TROPHY FOR ME!

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daus26
Friday, October 10, 2014 @ 4:22:29 PM

Sawao are you forgetting we'e comparing a PS3 game to a ps4? Of course Driveclub will have the edge in lighting n weather algorithm. My point is that PD achieved what other devs like evolution studios can only dream of last generation in technical prowess, so imagine what happens if they had the ps4 to work with. It's like naughty dog transferring their skills and assets from PS3 to ps4. Which would you expect more, a game like the next uncharted or a game like order 1886? Both look great visually but I believe uncharted will have the edge overall in terms of pushing the console.

Driveclub will have advantages over GT when it arrives, and gt will have advantage over Driveclub as well, but OVERALL I simply think GT will look and feel better as you're playing it based on their past experience. Their focus n priority will be different but I believe id prefers pds prioritazion over DC. To achieve 60fps in GT7, obviously some sacrifices have to be made if evolution has a hard time reaching it at Driveclubs current state. but this all depends on what they prioritize on the details they want to achieve. I'm NOT saying pd can just copy n paste the current Driveclub n make it 60fps lol. I simply think pd has more talent than evo.

Why boast about your 3d modeling knowledge? How can you ask me a question that's so bland anyway? Do you have full understanding of PDs capability n GT6 as well as what DC is running vs GT6 to predict what GT7 is going to be exactly like? All I know is what I've read from digital foundry's analyzation n personal knowledge of under the hood specs of GT6. The only z axis rotation I can understand is from my calculus lV class, sorry.

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Temjin001
Friday, October 10, 2014 @ 5:17:44 PM

I just hope PD stays realistic with their resolution target. I don't want to hear anything about them shooting for a 4K target with GT7.
I feel like they sacrificed too much by shooting for such a high res last gen. For example, GT6 rarely actually hits 60fps. Any realtime monitoring I've seen has the game fluctuating from about 45-55 FPS as soon as either one or two cars are within closer proximity.
I love Evolution's unwielding standard. I can get like 10 cars in front of me with all sorts of chaos going on and the FPS doesn't flinch, also while doing higher detailed mirror reflections. For me, consistency is usually king.

EDIT: ha and Duas I'm not boasting of nothing. I was literally working on a project at the time. How would matrix transforms even relate to the discussion here?

Last edited by Temjin001 on 10/10/2014 5:21:03 PM

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Beamboom
Friday, October 10, 2014 @ 12:47:20 PM
Reply

I just want Burnout Paradise 2.

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Nestore
Friday, October 10, 2014 @ 3:26:32 PM
Reply

DriveClub Summary: The draw is the tracks. They are *beautiful*. Both at a techie level and at an art design level. All the tracks are just fun to drive with beautiful scenery. The game is pretty simple beyond that. But I'm having a ton of fun with it. I prefer really great tracks to race rather than open world, but I can understand that others disagree. I just want to enjoy the race and turn the game off, I don't want to just meander around a fake world looking for things to do.

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Temjin001
Friday, October 10, 2014 @ 5:23:31 PM

the tracks, cars, and the lighting and shader work are the stars. in other words, all of it's visuals.

I do agree that many of the tracks are well varied and test you to be very attentive.

Last edited by Temjin001 on 10/10/2014 5:24:31 PM

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Axe99
Friday, October 10, 2014 @ 6:20:12 PM
Reply

Cheers for the review :). I wasn't sure how I'd find DriveClub myself, but I'm really enjoying the half-way house (well, not quite half-way ;)) between arcade and sim - enough sim that you're encouraged to drive sensibly, but enough arcade that you don't need to focus too much while racing and can just blast along. For my mind, it does a great job of capturing what Evolution said they were aiming for back when it was unveiled in Feb last year - racing hot cars through great locations with friends (well, once the servers are up).

Anyways, colour me pleasantly surprised - Driveclub will be my go-to racer for a good while, at least into 2015, and maybe longer depending on how Project Cars turns out. Oh, and to anyone calling DriveClub a 'fail' - remember, just because it's not for you, doesn't mean it's bad - DC is great at what it does, but it's _not_ GT/Forza/Forza Horizon/NFS and expecting that will lead to disappointment - it's DriveClub, and strangely enough in a world of overhyping and misleading advertising, people getting into it for the things Evolution said it will be, will have a great time :).

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Temjin001
Friday, October 10, 2014 @ 8:02:49 PM
Reply

I need someone to tell me how the penalty speed cap thing works.
From what I can tell there's 3 levels of penalty.
A minor tap results in nothing.
A medium vehicle or track crash results in a red warning and point deduction (still no speed cap enforced).

And then there's the corner cut which incurs a level 3 penalty that flashes red on your screen and a beeping sound happens. It's during this beeping sound time when the speed cap gets enforced. You literally see your RPM and speed meter being affected (flashing red too)
A major collision impact (and I mean MAJOR) will result in a level 3 warning as well and cap your speed, but you really kinda gotta be drunk to have that happen.
I always am doing "love taps" and the game doesn't so much as even go to a level 2 warning. Maybe a patch has happened or something because I am getting consistent results and it's a very minor thing. Really, if you're cutting corners you should be nailed for that. I feel major collisions are pretty much self punishing as they are but maybe it's to keep online play cleaner.

Last edited by Temjin001 on 10/10/2014 8:14:57 PM

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Axe99
Saturday, October 11, 2014 @ 7:56:50 PM

Aye, that seems to be the way. I've only had one major collision with a speed penality in over three hours of playing (and I'm a pretty dodgy driver) so it's not a biggy if you're half competent. My biggest bugbear is the AI cars going up your date on the straight.

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startazz
Sunday, October 12, 2014 @ 4:38:34 PM
Reply

I was looking at the first comment and thought what,why would he say that? then i thought to myself did he get the words mixed up and instead of being racist do you think he might of meant biased? well that's all i can come up with looking at this website from someone who might be a Xbox fanboy lol.

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Rachet_JC_FTW
Tuesday, October 14, 2014 @ 6:11:32 PM
Reply

i can see what u say personally i don't care too much about the cars things cos i like a bit of everything and there are plenty of euro carsi like so thats not really a problem for e but across the board not a good thing and no ben is not being racist hes merely say that there should be cars from makers of coutries other than euro.

but i can see ur gripe with the speed penatly things that is anoiying and i can already see its going to anoiy me and my bros at home

but other than that sounds alright to me and sounds more lore less like what i was expecting but maybe a lil on the lower side as a few more cars would have been nice but any who

happy gaming

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