DRIVECLUB Review

Over the course of their fifteen years together, the good people at Evolution Studios have made nine racing games, including 2001’s WRC: World Rally Championship and its four sequels, and 2006’s MotorStorm, its two sequels, and a spin-off. Which is why it’s so odd that their latest, DRIVECLUB for the PlayStation 4, has such fundamental flaws that it seems like it was made by a studio with far less experience.

DRIVECLUB 01

In DRIVECLUB, you drive virtual versions of real cars on race tracks and closed off streets during multi-lap events, point-to-point races, time trials, and the occasional drifting contest. But while this is far removed from the sensitivity of Gran Turismo and other racing simulations, DRIVECLUB isn’t as forgiving as, say, a Need For Speed, and is thus far removed from the smoothness of a MotorStorm. Which means you not only can’t just let up on the gas and cruise through a corner, you have to hit the brakes, and sometimes hard.

This, annoyingly, isn’t the only way in which DRIVECLUB is oversensitive. In fact, it’s so stringent and unforgiving about driving correctly that it’s kind of annoying. Rub up against a guard rail ever so slightly? That’ll cost ya. Trade just a small swatch of paint with another car, even if it’s not your fault? That’ll cost ya, too. Go off the track for just a second? Yeah, I know. It’s like if my mother made a racing game.

While DRIVECLUB can be a bit of jerk, it can also be a bit of a taskmaster. When playing the career mode, every race has secondary objectives, which can include such goals as finishing in the top 3, finishing a lap in a certain amount of time, or finishing with a top speed in excess of a certain amount. All of which would make things more interesting…if they weren’t largely things you’d try to do anyway.

There is, of course, a point to these objectives in DRIVECLUB; for each one you do, you earn a gold star. And when you earn enough gold stars, you unlock the next group of events, which gives this a nice sense of progression.

It’s just too bad that this progress is derailed by a sudden spikes in difficulty as you go from one section to another. It’s like someone switched the difficulty in the options menu from “easy” to “expert” when you weren’t looking (which is kind of a neat trick consider this doesn’t have any difficulty settings). Which is why it feels like someone switched DRIVECLUB from “challenging” to “frustrating.”

DRIVECLUB 02

Then there’s the social aspects of DRIVECLUB. While this has the usual compliment of online races, it also encourages you to pair up with friends — or other random people you meet online — to form a club. Besides racing together, your club collectively levels up, unlocking club-only cars and paint jobs. Which might seem like a nice idea…until you realize that being in a club is only fun if all the members are online at the same time (good luck with that). It also doesn’t help that the exclusive cars you unlock aren’t any better than what’s already available, while the club-only paint jobs you get for every car are as fugly as the regular ones.

What’s a bit more interesting is that DRIVECLUB lets you issue challenges to both your friends and rival clubs, and vice versa. Which could give this game some extra life, assuming, of course, it does well and people get into the idea of sending challenges to their friends and rival clubs. Or you actually give a crap about proving yourself to complete strangers.

DRIVECLUB also has a problem so common these days that I now just cut and paste this paragraph into almost every game review I do (seriously, go check): some of the type is too small. Unless you sit really, really close to your TV — y’know, like your mama told you not to — you’ll have a hard time reading your mid-race standings, or the objectives for each race, or really most messages in the game.

The irony about the typography in DRIVECLUB being too small is that this is one of the few racing games where the graphical fidelity actually impacts the gameplay. While it usually doesn’t matter if the mountains in the background are picturesque, since you’re supposed to keep your eyes on the road, DRIVECLUB actually uses the light of the sun in interesting ways. Besides driving both day and nice races, there are also times when you’re racing during sundown, which sometimes means driving with the sun in your eyes. Which, if you’ve ever done, you know can be a bit disconcerting, since you can’t see four feet in front of you. But what’s unnerving in real life becomes a real challenge in DRIVECLUB, and a welcome one at that.

DRIVECLUB 03

What’s ultimately annoying about DRIVECLUB, though, is that there’s a good racing game struggling to get out. The tracks are twisty and nicely varied, it does some interesting tricks with the sunlight, while the structure of the career mode makes you feel like you’ve actually accomplished something. But all of that is negated by the game’s annoying spike in difficulty, its prickly controls, and its dickish attitude. Which is why I have to take back what I said about my mom earlier. Because if she made a racing game, it would be a lot more fun than this.

SCORE: 3.0

 


26 thoughts on “DRIVECLUB Review

  1. I agree wholeheartedly with this review. Some of the challenges (particularly the lap times and average speed ones) are bordering on fantasy. Add to thd fact that any car above sports and even thinking about turning sends you into a wild 4 wheel drift, when in contrast, trying to do the actual drift events has nothing counted unless youre practically doing a doughnut. Needs a lot of work IMO

    • Thanks. I especially agree with the “Needs a lot of work” line. Which is what makes it so disappointing; it could’ve been so much better with a bit more work.

  2. How can one wholeheartedly agree and disagree with you at the same time…but I do! Yup, I feel like I have accomplished something when I earn enough stars to progress. But, when the game has annoyed the hell out of me (for many of the same reasons that you outlined) and I don’t play it often, then I can support your score. I never really feel connected to the road (as connected as one can feel to a virtual road, that is) and that too is my biggest issue with this game.

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  4. Ridiculous review. As said above, a 3/10 game is a game that’s nearly functional. And if what you say is true (writing for 20 years, for multiple official publications) then there’s something terribly, terribly wrong with gaming journalism.

    Oh btw, your mom jokes make you look incredibly immature, congrats!

    • Well, I don’t agree, obviously. I’ve never played a game that wasn’t functional, even at a preview event, so saying that a game that’s only functional should be a 5/10 seems silly.

      Also, why do the jokes about my mom make me look “incredibly immature”? This doesn’t make any sense.

      But then, the anger this review has inspired doesn’t make any sense either.

  5. Do people even know what a 3/10 game is? a 3/10 game is one that doesn’t function correctly, a game that has full of bugs, little to no presentation, terrible production costs or otherwise won’t work. Sonic 06 is a 3/10 game (1/10 would mean the game is unplayable or unbeatable due to poor level design, Sonic 06 is AT LEAST beatable). I understand that this review is trying to be controversial in order to get views on there websites, but you only make your website look stupid and unprofessional when you do shit like this, and this applies to all the people who gave Destiny a 3/10 too.

    I’m also willing to bet this website didn’t get a review copy based on how unprofessional it is, which mean they literally bought the game today, played it for about an hour and rushed a review just to get that click-bait, its absolutely pathetic…

  6. “You not only can’t just let up on the gas and cruise through a corner, you have to hit the brakes, and sometimes hard.”

    Yeah, I too hate hitting the brakes on a corner while going at 100 MPH

    What an absolute twat.. I can understand why you’re not still working for those video game magazines

    • Actually, I still write regularly for EGM, Walmart GameCenter, and GamesBeat. As for the others I’m “not still working for,” both Official PlayStation Magazine and G4TV.com aren’t around anymore.

    • Uh, no, no it does not. I just double checked (triple checked, really), and there is no way to change the difficulty.

      There are areas of different difficulty, which is where the spike comes in, but there is nowhere in the game where you can change the difficulty from, say, “easy” to “hard.”

        • Where? Like I said, I checked the settings and saw nothing. What you’re talking about are the levels of difficulty, not the settings. Once you play through the rookie races, you move on to amateur. And that’s where the difficulty spiked, so much so that it made the game frustrating.

  7. this is the STUPIDEST review ive ever read…. SERIOUSLY ofcouuuurrseee your little shitty no named website was going to give this game a poor review to get yourself the hits… but honestly you make some stupid ass points! just honestly quit while you’re behind! ¬__¬

    • Uh, you are aware that I’ve been writing about games for 20 years and have worked for many video game magazines and websites — including Electronic Gaming Monthly, G4TV.com, Official PlayStation Magazine, and others — right?

  8. 3 out of what?

    You make some good points, by the way.

    “What’s ultimately annoying about DRIVECLUB, though, is that there’s a good racing game struggling to get out.” << Truth

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