Before I started playing Driver: San Francisco I had flashbacks of the many times I tried to complete the last level of the first Driver. Tom finally persuaded me to un-curl from the fetal position and pop the disc into the Xbox. The latest offering in the Driver series is brought to us by Ubisoft and the first thing I noticed upon firing up the game is that it likes to talk to the Ubisoft servers, a lot.
The online aspects of the game require a valid UPlay code to unlock. This code is provided in the box but can only be redeemed once, you need to set up a UPlay account and then redeem the code against it. This means that people buying the game second-hand will have to purchase a UPlay code from Ubisoft to unlock the multiplayer. This comes in at 800 Microsoft Points on the Xbox 360.
The single player focuses on Detective John Tanner who is out with his partner to witness crime boss Charles Jericho being escorted to his trial. Inevitably the unthinkable happens and Jericho is freed from his transport with the aid of some well concealed acid and a woman in a helicopter with a rocket launcher. Tanner sets off in pursuit but quickly finds himself being pushed into oncoming traffic by his arch nemesis. After the crash Tanner finds he has the ability to jump into the bodies of other people driving about in San Fransisco and he sets about using this new gift to track down Jericho to bring him to justice.
After thinking about it, I couldn’t care less what story they had to put in place to justify the core mechanic of jumping from the car to the aerial view. It opens up so many game play possibilities including a mission type where you deliberately crash cars head first into racers to try to trash their cars before they can finish the race.
There is plenty to do in single player in between story missions. Aside from the races, stunts and police chases there are also garages which can be purchased and used to buy new cars and upgrades. There are 140 vehicles to unlock and buy my favorite being the Nissan GT-R.
There are various multiplayer race types including Tag and Trailblaze. Tag is the one I like best where if you wish to be “it”, you have to crash into whoever is currently tagged and then try to keep “it” for as long as possible. As you compete in multiplayer matches you gain experience points to unlock more game modes and cars.
Driver: San Francisco has taken the best bits from recent open world driving games while maintaining the frantic action and sometimes crazy physics associated with a Driver title.
8 head on collisions out of 10