In the original PlayStation days, Driver was a well-respected and popular name. The first two installments were very well received by both critics and gamers, but the series went downhill since then and never reclaimed that initial glory. Therefore, maybe we should call Driver: San Francisco a reboot, even though it acts as a sequel to DRIV3R : story-wise, protagonist Tanner has finally caught his arch nemesis, Jericho. But the latter escapes authorities and in the wake of his deadly dash, Tanner is left in a car accident that somehow leaves him with supernatural powers… Okay, that part can be considered a “reboot,” just ‘cuz it’s so far removed from the standard formula. And this feature is bound to be a highlight.
Basically, Tanner can leave his body and fly around the city, seeking out a new “host.” That host is any driver of a vehicle and considering the sheer size of the city (over 200 miles of road), this could be quite the interesting endeavor. We have learned that Tanner’s unique skill will get more powerful over time, so while early on he won’t be able to stay outside his body for long, he’ll soon have the entire town at his ghostly disposal. In fact, he’ll be able to leap from one part of the city to another, which means Ubisoft Reflections will have to make this mechanic work perfectly . To assist in this difficult task, they’ve passed on using any middleware and opted to build their own slick tech. And remember, they need to recreate San Francisco.
Well, this environment was inspired by the city by the bay, so while the virtual incarnation isn’t an exact replica, it should still boast plenty of recognizable elements. But really, swapping driver bodies is a focal point: apparently, it really doesn’t matter who we carjack from the safety of our invulnerable spirit form, and the studio has generated a whole lot of drivers and cars. The missions will vary widely and don’t think for a second that we’re going all realistic and authentic; in fact, one mission has us satisfying a television crew that wants to capture the biggest daredevils on camera. So you’re off, leaping between drivers, executing ridiculous stunts, and leaping free of the doomed body before everything goes up in flames. The better you do, the more willpower you will earn.
Willpower acts as the game’s currency and can be used to purchase new cars and other special items. As for the basic structure, it appears to be similar to other open-ended, sandbox racing games like the recently released Test Drive Unlimited 2 . Lastly, as far as driving physics and mechanics are concerned, you should expect a blend between arcade-style and simulation, with the feel of the action leaning towards a Burnout or classic Need for Speed style. There will be a total of over 140 licensed cars and yes, multiplayer will be included. We don’t have all the details on that just yet, but we imagine more info will be coming our way well before Driver: San Francisco arrives. It’s slated to hit the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC and Mac on August 30.