Review

DriveClub

Chasing That Familiar Feeling
by Matthew Kato on Oct 07, 2014 at 03:00 AM
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Evolution Studios
Release:
Rating: Everyone
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4

You shouldn't need a lot of impetus in a racing game. The objective is to go as fast as you dare and come in first place. That being said, many racing games (DriveClub included) have found ways to make it so that even the not-so-great racers can get something for their effort.

Building out a good feature set and enticing players to keep doing essentially the same thing over and over again is the task of all racing games. DriveClub's answer to this problem is to rely heavily on online features designed to pump out user-created challenges and encourage you to join a car club in order to give further meaning to your race-in, race-out activities. This setup taps into the competitive spirit, but only sustains for so long.

The single-player activities contain a basic progression of races that unlocks as you earn more stars based on your lap times, what place you come in, etc. There's nothing that distinguishes it other than how it's tied to online play; in fact, if you don't have an online connection I would not recommend DriveClub at all. Your lap times and other achievements in single-player can be used to create challenges for others via the event history log.

All the races (including the 12-car multiplayer) feature face-offs. These require you to beat someone else's score in average speed, correct racing line, or drifting over a discrete portion of the track. Face-offs are DriveClub's distinguishing feature that keeps things fresh by offering a race-within-the-race. They change from lap to lap and are populated via matchmaking, so they keep you invested even when things aren't going well, since winning face-offs helps you increase your driver rank.

I like face-offs more than the challenge system – which isn't bad, but is pretty straightforward. Put down a good lap, race, or drift score and you can make it a challenge for everyone else, select friends, or other clubs. While completing challenges contributes to Driver Rank, I found them engaging only when I joined a club. Clubs are fairly passive, since they don't interfere with your activities. Joining one simply means that whatever you do is contributing to the overall club XP kitty. However, I developed a strange pride in trying to be the one who posted a good finish for the club on a challenge leaderboard.

Despite being a central feature of the game, clubs are surprisingly underutilized. There are no co-op challenges with club members, and no acknowledgment for the achievements of individual members. If I'm busting my hump advancing the club (there are five exclusive cars for clubs to unlock together), I'd like to get some recognition. Tabbing who has drifted the longest or put in the most hours would not only spur other club members and further the sense of accomplishment, but these and other club stats would also create more of an identity when stacked against other clubs.

DriveClub works as advertised, and despite the seamlessness of its single-player and online features, the game's not wildly more captivating than most other racers out there. It captures the spur of competitive racing, but this is due more to the fact that its racing fundamentals (which are more sim than arcade) give it a good foundation rather than some groundbreaking feature set. Drive it fast and drive it hard, but don't expect a miracle.

7.75
i
Game Informer's Review System
Concept Prove that a predominately online racing title doesn’t just have to be about PvP racing to be fun
Graphics The lighting in particular makes DriveClub look great, and elements in the environment like smoke or confetti are great touches that prevent the world from being sterile
Sound I actually really enjoy the engine sounds from the cars themselves, which is something that I don’t usually care about
Playability The game is slightly more sim than arcade, and it feels really good
Entertainment DriveClub doesn’t revolutionize online play, but offers solid driving and just enough features to keep it engaging
Replay Moderately High