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Driver: San Francisco Review

A reboot of a classic racing franchise offers more than just a rehash of the original

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Though the game is set in a modern setting, the presentation is full of influence from the 1970s. Immediately notable (and perhaps annoying to some players) is the camera filter, which adds a bit of grain to the screen and actually limits your field of view by blocking out the corners a bit. It takes a bit to get used to but after a while it isn’t an issue. There are collectible icons scattered throughout the world, which unlock special classic races from popular films. These chases and events amplify the camera filter, swap out the cars for the setting-appropriate models and let players re-live the experience. Sadly, unless you are familiar with the films from which these iconic races were recreated, you’re bound to be a bit indifferent to the experience, as the game doesn’t offer any background.

Much of the game’s story is told through cutscenes, which are very well done and look great. Perhaps more interesting is that the pre-rendered cutscenes are often seamlessly presented alongside with in-engine visuals. It is an unusual and rare choice, but works very well. There is exposition during the gameplay as well, but we only get to see the character models conversing in the car and it doesn’t look as good as the pre-rendered stuff. The engine overall looks a little dated, and you’d be hard pressed to find any overly impressive textures or visuals. However, without any loading screens as you roam or Shift around, the game’s visuals look on par with most recent titles. What Driver SF gets perfect is the smoke which results from burning out your tires – it looks simply fantastic, though it undermines the realism a bit as the game would have you believe that all cars are rear wheel drives.
 
Driver: San Francisco
 
Sound effects in the game are satisfactory but otherwise aren’t noteworthy, as for example it is difficult to tell the difference between engine noises of a Ford Taurus and a Volkswagen Beetle. The soundtrack, on the other hand, offers an excellent collection of licensed music tracks from the classic as well as modern eras. Character voice acting is well done; there is a ton of hilarious dialogue that’s well delivered. Unfortunately, not all of the writing is up to par, and as much as the voice actors can try, it’s difficult to work with very basic lines. Driver SF runs very well, without any bugs or glitches. Perhaps the most negative thing that can be said is that there are a few too many loading screens when jumping in/out of action and cutscenes.
 
Driver: San Francisco is quite simply a stellar reboot of a franchise. Delivering a unique and, most importantly, well executed Shift mechanic helps the game stand out alongside its peers. The arcade racing feels right, the open world is huge and littered with things to do, and though the AI could use some work, it’s nothing gamebreaking. Included online multiplayer options are varied and promise to provide many hours of entertainment. Arcade racing fans that are looking for some great action with a unique twist, an intriguing story, and robust multiplayer, should not miss Driver: San Francisco.

Our ratings for Driver: San Francisco on Xbox 360 out of 100 (Ratings FAQ)
Presentation
84
A slick 70s style is felt throughout the game, from the character designs to the classic soundtrack. Not everyone will appreciate the camera filter though.
Gameplay
82
The Shift mechanic is unique, it works well, and offers tons of freedom for a racing game. Cars handle well, and there is much fun to be had with drifting and jumps. AI is the most glaring problem with the overall experience.
Single Player
87
Campaign's plot is surprisingly involving, and the supernatural setting allows for some unique experiences. The main missions offer only about 8 hours of play, depending on skill level, but the side quests are in abundance.
Multiplayer
83
A ton of modes are offered and work great, though alot are needlessly locked away behind XP requirements.
Performance
87
The game runs very smoothly, particularly offline, though the quality of the visuals likely had to be sacrificed. No bugs or other technical problems.
Overall
85
With an open world, enjoyable racing mechanics, and robust online content, Driver: San Francisco is a very successful reboot of the series. Though not without a few faults, the overall experience is well worth a try for racing fans looking for something truly unique.
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#1 Sep 6, 2011 12:01:48 (Sep 6, 2011 12:01)

Nechrol
This should have been called "Mulholland Driver", but looks interesting. I'm not sure if I would be okay with purchasing Multiplayer within a system that already has me paying to go online in the first place. Unless perhaps it works separately with your 360 subscription. Also, I wished they would have included the unlock that allowed your car to travel on stilts. I also heard that maybe Call of Duty was going to try this tactic to squeeze more money out of people which I'm not too fond of.
 
 
Driver: San Francisco
Driver: San Francisco box art Platform:
Xbox 360
Our Review of Driver: San Francisco
85%
Great
The Verdict:
Game Ranking
Driver: San Francisco is ranked #163 out of 1521 total reviewed games. It is ranked #30 out of 112 games reviewed in 2011.
162. Driver: San Francisco
PlayStation 3
163. Driver: San Francisco
164. Snoopy Flying Ace
Xbox 360
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Screenshots

Driver: San Francisco
18 images added Aug 18, 2011 21:57
Videos
Driver: San Francisco - Story Trailer
Posted: Apr 29, 2011 00:22
NGN at E3 2011 - Driver SF gameplay
Posted: Jun 14, 2011 01:58
Driver: San Francisco - Meet the Cars
Posted: Jul 12, 2011 21:02
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