Review: DRIVECLUB (PS4)

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Title: DRIVECLUB
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (16 GB)
Release Date: October 7, 2014 (US) / October 8, 2014 (EU)
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Evolution Studios
Original MSRP: $59.99
ESRB Rating: E
DRIVECLUB is exclusive to PlayStation 4.
The PlayStation 4 disc version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Audio Review:
The audio review for this game is available on Episode 392 of the podcast.

A true jaw-dropper when the PS4 was revealed, DRIVECLUB promised to utilize all of the upcoming social features offered by the new and shiny PlayStation. It was delayed a few months, and from the finished product, the delay was well worth it. I’d played an early version of the game at E3 and at PAX, and it wasn’t doing much for me. In a rare occurrence, we’ve actually had the finished game for over two weeks and it’s been my singular obsession since the day it arrived.

Gameplay:
A lot of people have asked which other racers that DRIVECLUB can be compared to and it’s definitely in a unique corner of the driving genre. I’d best describe it as an Action Racer rooted in realism… let me explain.

The realism aspect is vast, but not 100% of the game. Included in the game are fifty-five real cars, all accurately modeled visually inside and out, each sounding like the real world counterpart as well. None of the tracks actually exist but all are inspired by the five regions that are represented: Canada, Scotland, India, Norway, and Chile. There are twenty-five tracks, all with variants, making the total fifty-five. Also, there’s a mix of lap-based tracks and those where you drive from Point A to Point B.

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There are a total of fifty cars available to unlock, and all are real. five cars can be unlocked when you either create or join a club with unlocks happening when the club’s level increases. The other forty-five cars are unlocked when your driver’s level increases which happens by accumulating “fame” points. These points can be earned in various ways, including finishing races in the top three, meeting specific requirements in certain events, completing challenges from other racers that are integrated into races throughout the game, and challenges built into the races by the developers. If this sounds familiar, don’t forget that a good number of developers on DRIVECLUB worked on games like Project Gotham Racing and Metropolis Street Racer, so kudos to you if you noticed he similarity. Happily for me though, this points system isn’t as regimented as it was in those previous games because that was an aspect I didn’t like in them.

In terms of customization, only the paint jobs can be changed, either by preset paint jobs that are unlocked in races or, if you create/join a club you’ll be able to create a custom paint and decal scheme. Performance aspects cannot be adjusted at all. Because of this, DRIVECLUB retains specific conditions for balance in gameplay. Personally, I like not having to tweak my cars because it allows me to focus on the most important thing, racing!

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There are other things in the game to customize beside your club’s paint scheme.
As in multiplayer, which will be covered farther down in this review, you have the option to set up a Single Race event with customizations available like Time of Day, number of AI-controlled opponents (up to eleven), which track and variant, and even how quickly time passes so you can go through a sunset or sunrise during the race.

Depending on the car you choose, your opponents will be in similar cars from that same class. You have control over a good amount of options and it’s a lot of fun to play with the items. One thing though that’s not available yet is different weather conditions, which is being patched-in soon after launch.

For those asking, and there were many, yes, there’s a Single-Player aspect to the game and it’s substantial. A myriad of events are available right from the start in “Tour” mode, starting you with a Mini Cooper and taking you on a long and difficult journey from there. There are three race types available in DRIVECLUB: Race, Time Trial, and Drift. In the Tour, preset events take you throughout all five regions in all three of these race types, my least favorite being the Drift challenges (I’m not a Drift pro in any game.) There are groups of these events and after acquiring the needed amount of Stars to unlock the final event of each section you’ll be able to move to the next group.

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Stars are earned by meeting certain goals in each event and the really nice thing is that once you earn a specific star you don’t have to do so again if you replay the event to earn the others. Most of the time the requirements for these Stars are goals such as beating a certain lap time, to finish in the Top three or in first place, or to beat a built-in challenge for cornering or high speed in a specified zone, to name a few.

driveclub-review-ps-plus-sidebarSome races will challenge you with AI opponents while others pit you against a lap time and even though it looks thin on paper, the variety is good and keeps you engaged in the progression. For the first week that I had this game the servers weren’t even online so all I had to play was the Tour and I still haven’t gotten all the way through it (getting close though).

As you progress though, things will obviously become more challenging because the cars get faster and your AI opponents get a lot more aggressive, with some even adapting to how you race. Honestly, the AI drivers can be real assholes sometimes and you’ll actually notice that it’s specific drivers every time. It’s not that they’re “cheap” though and in some cases they’ll get more aggressive if you bump into one of them or cut someone off. I guarantee though, that as you progress, you’ll be yelling at some of them like they’re real people.

So after all of that, how about I tell you how it actually plays? In a word, fantastic! Since the game is aimed more at the action of racing, the developers at Evolution Studios have set things up to specifically give each car more grip than in the real world, allowing you to brake later at a sharp turn, and at the same time nailed everything else. Controls are wonderful and responsive, and the sense of speed is better than most other racers that I’ve played.

At the same time, it definitely feels like you’re on the different surfaces you’ll encounter, even with the stick on the DualShock 4. It never feels like you’ll lose control or that you’re on glass, that is, if you drive correctly. The more exotic cars obviously have a lot more torque available, so if you mash the accelerator all the way on takeoff you’ll probably simply spin-out, which is what should happen.

In time-trial events, you might find yourself saying “just one more time” as you get within two-tenths of your goal, only to hit the wall because you’re concentrating too much on trying to drive that “perfect lap”. In the Drift events, you’ll have to do just that, try to drift through corners and gain enough drift points to move on. Unfortunately for me, I’m not very good at doing so. It’s not anything wrong with the game, it’s my problem, and I’m working through it (counseling may be required though). Honestly though, it’s the drift events that have held me back a bit in my progression, but at the same time, instead of trying to get these Drift points, it’s forced me to go back to previous events in an attempt to earn those stars that I missed in the past, in-turn, making me a better racer.

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That’s something that I appreciate about how the Tour is setup too, the fact that I’m not required to get all the stars in a section before I can move on, but also that I can go back in an attempt to earn those specific stars that I missed before, and that it keeps any of the stars that I already earned.

As many have found out, when DRIVECLUB hits, only steering wheels from Thrustmaster are compatible with the PS4, and therefore with this game. They’re even branding one of these wheels specifically for DRIVECLUB, the Thrustmaster T80. I picked up the T80 (not the branded one since they’re not available yet) for $99.99 and have taken the time to race a bunch with it. The wheel works very well in DRIVECLUB, and they even allow you to set controls separately for the DualShock 4, a wheel, and Remote Play, which I truly appreciate.

I’ll post a full review of the wheel at some point, but for this game, it does the job admirably. One thing though is that the T80 doesn’t offer true Force Feedback. Instead, it uses bungee cord inside to offer resistance when you turn the wheel. It works well enough, and honestly, sometimes full force feedback actually annoyed me somewhat. I do, like many others, wish that my Logitech wheel worked on the PS4, but that’s on Logitech.

The thing is, I played numerous hours without a wheel with really no issues, so if you personally don’t NEED a wheel you’ll be just fine without. The funny thing is since at least this wheel doesn’t have force feedback, I actually prefer the DualShock 4 since the rumble helps so much in feeling your way through the tracks.

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Visuals:
This is probably the best looking racing game that I’ve ever seen, bar none. Probably the only disappointment(?) is that it doesn’t run at 60FPS as originally planned, so instead you get a rock-solid 30FPS, with incredible detail and an even more incredible draw distance. Nothing, and I truly mean NOTHING pops in or out, not even in the rear view mirrors.

As mentioned before, there aren’t many games out there that offer the true sense of speed like DRIVECLUB does. Dust flies up and obscures your view for a split-second, headlights actually glow correctly in the shiny paint of the other cars and even appear in the rear view mirrors of the cars in front of you. I’ve honestly never seen anything like it.

Along those same lines, all of the lighting in DRIVECLUB is in real time and it’s flawless. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING is lit correctly in accordance to where the sun is in the sky or because of headlights and environmental lighting at night. You can even change the position of the sun when you’re building your club’s custom paint job, so that you can see how it looks in whatever time of day. Light even reflects correctly off the metallic flakes in the paint of the cars.

If you like to drive from the cockpit view, be ready to be amazed. Not only are the consoles recreated exactly, but yet again lighting takes a front seat. Everything is shadowed accurately and when the light hits the windshield just right you’ll see things like streaks where someone wiped it down, or even a rainbow effect. Even the different elements on the dashboard reflect correctly on the inside of the windshield. It’s just stunning when you see it all in action.

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Quite frankly, the lack of full 60FPS means nothing when you see what they’ve done. The tracks and environments are alive with activity, including flags waving in the breeze, or fog rolling-in over the hillsides, it’s just another aspect of the complete package that pulls you into the experience. Hopefully the included images will help relate what I’m trying to describe.

Audio:
Let’s get the soundtrack out of the way first. To me, it’s what you would expect to hear at one of those festivals like they had in Motorstorm. It’s not bad at all, it’s just not my type of music. What’s appreciated though, is that by default, music is turned off when driving. You can definitely turn the music on if it’s to your taste or you can even use Music Unlimited if you have it.

The weird part is that I always listen to music when I’m driving, but I found myself not doing so in DRIVECLUB, and I think it’s because the audio design is just that good. As mentioned above, all of the cars in the game have been recorded physically and applied in-game, so every car sounds like it should. Tire noise also, is impressive, especially on all of the different surfaces throughout the regions.

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Online/Multiplayer:
From the tweets and emails that we receive about this game, it’s pretty obvious that many think that DRIVECLUB is exclusively multiplayer, and while that’s not the case, it’s obviously a big chunk of what the game is all about.

You’ll have a couple of different options in how you want to handle things but since races only last a few minutes, simply joining a race that your friend is in isn’t really feasible. Instead, you can party-up in a multiplayer session, easily accessed with the Triangle button.

In your Social Hub you can see which of your friends is in the game and either join their session (if it doesn’t require an invite) or you can invite friends into your session. From there, you can create your own race events, allowing you to set conditions such as which track, time of day, how fast time passes during the race, type of race, and even weather conditions (full weather like rain and snow are being patched-in by the end of the year).

If you just want to pursue random races, the game lobbies appear at certain intervals all with a timer showing how long you have to register for the race. Matchmaking seems good so far and getting into a race is simple as long as there are others that want to race in the same event. So you’re not going to be able to join a race in-progress and that makes total sense. These sessions that you join aren’t simply single races either, but instead are setup as playlists like you’d encounter in other online games like Killzone: Shadow Fall and the Call of Duty series. It’s a nice way to do things so you’re not constantly searching for new matches after a race.

Online play so far has been fantastic too. I haven’t seen even a lick of teleporting or other issues that are common in racing games. I’m not saying that it won’t happen, but so far, it seems that DRIVECLUB is going to perform very well online. Voice chat is available without the need to use the party system, and the quality has been good so far.

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Conclusion:
DRIVECLUB is legit in so many ways. I do wish that it had race replays (which may or may not be patched-in at some point), and the content on the horizon in the form of new cars, locales, and events only excites me more because I’ll have even more reason to keep playing it.

Everything about this game screams quality and it shows even more what we can expect on PS4 in the future. One key item that I neglected to mention too, is the fact that there’s only about a ten second load time from the point that you get into your car. After playing some other racing games recently, you’d be surprised how much of a difference that makes.

The strong integration with the social aspects of the PS4’s ecosystem are in full effect, and actually fulfill what was promised over a year and a half ago on that stage in New York City. Online play is excellent and robust, with no tangible issues (so far at least). Obviously the amount of people playing pre-launch is minuscule compared to the flood of opponents that will tax the servers on launch day, so you never know.

Let’s not forget that they’re offering a considerable amount of content to PlayStation Plus subscribers with a section of the full game. It’s not just a “glorified demo” especially considering that you can achieve the coveted Platinum Trophy with just that version. It’s a great thing to be able to figure out if you like the game or not, and if you do, you even get a $10 discount on the full game.

There’s not much to complain about here, and that makes me very happy. It’s become increasingly rare for a game with such lofty claims to actually meet and/or exceed those when it’s finally released, but in my mind, DRIVECLUB has in spades. If you like racing, and you don’t hold yourself only to “simulations”, DRIVECLUB is definitely for you.

Score:
9.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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Written by Glenn Percival

Glenn Percival

Just a guy that loves games, movies, Golf, Football, and Baseball.

Podcast Co-Host, Editor-in-Chief, Video Producer, and whipping-boy

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  • thecman25

    Not bad cant wait to pick this up

    • тнe ғιgнтer

      It seems to be the problem most Sony exclusives are having.

      Killzone Shadowfall: Ok shooter with great graphics

      Infamous Second Son: Ok sandbox with great graphics

      Driveclub: From reviews sounds like an ok racer with great graphics

      The Order1886: From all the previews I’ve read it sounds like an ok shooter with great graphics

      They need to start focusing on games that have more than just graphics.

      Bloodborne looks like a great first step

  • Lifendz

    A very thorough and detailed review of the game. Score aside, you guys once again have put other reviewers to shame with the amount of info in your review.

  • starscream1180

    every sony site has come to the rescue of this trash game …. gamestops going to be flooded w trade ins.

    • Matt Berial

      You haven’t even played the game. And a lot of games get traded into Gamestop.

      • starscream1180

        i was part of the cupcake beta mate … do people just assume on everything ?..

        • Matt Berial

          I’m sure you have. “Every Sony site has come to the rescue of this trash game” yeah, because people can take you seriously when you say dumb things like that.

          • starscream1180

            i can talk all the crap i want when someone doesnt deliver ona great gaming exp…. sorry. i can careless who takes me serioiusly and who does not im not here for a 3rd parties approval of my opinions and comments , if you then hey thats your perogative.

          • Matt Berial

            Of course you can, but don’t be surprised when people talk back and act offended.

          • starscream1180

            im not surprised at people being offended , i think its humerous…. shows how weak a person is to words and others opinion.

          • Matt Berial

            Well, i don’t know if it’s being weak. But i think it’s a waste of time to be offended what people say or think.

          • starscream1180

            i fully agree

          • Serc

            I played this at EGX London and was really underwhelmed it feels bad to drive :(, shame really so yeah I agree with Starscream I disagree with the score of this and Destiny. But each person feels different and PSN site always seems positive about everything that comes out, love the podcast but my opinion differs with the site so much I’m not sure why I come back.

            Great article though very well written.

    • mrguru

      The PSNation guys actually went back and played other racers to get a feel for how this game should play and actually realize that the videogame racing genre is very nuanced and every game is different in its approach. The main factor that someone should be reviewing a racing game starts and ends with how well does it purely race and handle and then build on there. Some reviews get that others just wanna compare racer apple to racer orange and then base their review on a preference to their style of what they think a racer should be.

    • Soul Less

      ?? Game has 36 reviews, 26 are 8 and above…your an idiot.

      • starscream1180

        10 – reviews = 70/75 score

        8 – reviews = 60 and under score

        the rest are 80/90…..

        if youre going to comment at least be accurate.

        and like i said half of the 80/90 scores are sony fan sites … (dualshockers, psu , sixthaxis) … you dont have to agree with me ..but the game is far from an 80/100 …

        • A Beta does not a full game opinion create. Here endeth gaming lesson 101.

          • Guest

            DriveClub is boring because all it is is racing beautifully rendered cars with great handling in exquisite locations. Oh, OK. Sounds horrible.

        • Jahonius

          I thought PSNation is supposed to be a PlayStation Fan site, not a “Sony Site”. Game reviews getting a certain score does not resonate with you – I get it. But please put on some grown up pants and stop offending people who come here by saying things that obviously upset a lot of people. If you hate the game so much, just don’t play it. Don’t preach

      • A review is one person’s subjective opinion. If they were all the same, they needed exist.

    • Soul Less

      Game has 37 reviews…27 are 8 and above……

  • Arnold Stallone

    lol
    @ the fabulous 3 : ign, gamespot and polygon

    gamespot, 5/10
    come on guys… a 5/10 game, is a game that is FLAWED, HAS BUGS every 2 seconds, IS UNPLAYABLE, FREEZES or REBOOTS the CONSOLE, HAS TEARING all the time, HAS HUGE TEXTURE LOADING PROBLEMS, HAS UGLY COMPRESSED TEXTURES like a ps1 game, is a game that CAN BE FINISHED in 1 hour, a game WITH THE ONLINE FEATURES TOTALLY MISSING OR BROKEN, WHERE ONLINE gaming disconnects us every minute, WHERE IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO JOIN AN ONLINE GAME, a game with HUGE FRAMEDROPS (like xbox one dead rising 3, 16-24fps), a HIDEOUS UGLY GAME, a game WITH ZERO REPLAY VALUE, etc etc.

    THIS ABOVE is a 5/10 game.

    driveclub isn’t a 5/10 game. any website that gives driveclub a 5/10 score, is a true joke.

    driveclub is just a victim of the old combat between consoles:
    -driveclub or gran turismo MUST NOT SCORE better than a FORZA game
    -a killzone game or any other sony exclusive MUST NOT SCORE better than HALO
    -the order 1886 or same genre MUST NOT SCORE better than gears of war

    it started in 2006, and will continue until 2030. these 3 websites will always give a better score to forza, halo, gears.

    5/10 , gamespot ??? does this mean i should pick any stupid iphone game, like kim kardashian game, because it had a higher score, we should rather get it, instead of driveclub ?

    i feel you guys at gamespot must have a bonner… specially the guy who has reviewed driveclub.

    but you know what ? driveclub will be like killzone shadow fall: even with ultra low scores from xbox fans, the game sold incredibly well.

    and the 10-11 million ps4 owners, 90% don’t give a fukk about reviews, and when people will go to their stores, and will see driveclub running on a 4k tv, people will go home with a copy of driveclub.

    so gamespot, why not a 3/10 ? or a 2/10 ?

  • Alright everybody needs to just calm down a bit here. It’s just a game and it’s just people’s opinions, it’s not life or death.

    • Guest

      Honestly reviews these days are silly for all games. I prefer GAF reviews and opinions. Look forward to reading them in the OT over the next few weeks.

      Hope everyone that has it has fun 🙂

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  • A really well written and thorough review Glenn. Thank you , I cannot wait to play this game.

  • Guest

    The problem here is the editor. A good editor should work with the reviewer to make sure the text and score match.

    That could mean changing the score or the text – but questioning and helping the reviewer ensure she or he is getting the best out of work. It usually doesn’t take much work, just getting the tone of the text and balance with positive/negative to match how much the reviewer rates it, or

    Personally I prefer to just get rid of scores. I was a writer/editor for over a decade, mostly in games, but other things too. I don’t do it anymore. My last job I did for over six years and was mostly commissioning and editing reviews, and we did go back to scores with the writer to make sure they were happy that things matched. More often than not they value the input of the editor to help them express their feelings correctly.

  • Guest

    What annoys me is that they continue to ignore it. The least they could do is acknowledge there’s been a delay and that they’re working on it. Its almost as if they think no one would notice.

  • HobbitHubby

    Is the free with Plus version live on the sony store yet? I haven’t been able to find it.

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  • Really?

    It would be really great if this review would be updated to show off all the bugs this game has had since launch. I respect Glenn, but when you review a game ahead of the general public and massive issues happen, it should be mentioned. A 9.0 is a score that should be reserved with a game that has a couple flaws. I would like to see how we are dealing with a 60 dollar broken game and psnation seems to show none of those issues on the review. Most sites are now waiting till the game is out for a couple days to post reviews. Maybe psnation should look into that. Thanks

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  • mike williams

    The thing I find with this game one minute u can c everything next it goes in to a blackout . Don’t knw why can’t see a thing plus the cars handle like a boat seriously needs sorting

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