Courtesy Daniel George, 2014.
How fast do you want to go?
It was a bummer when previously-announced launch title Driveclub was delayed until 2015. The crushing feelings deepened as the final release date was given, leaving a final delay of 11 months. Ultimately, after getting my hands racing with an Aston Martin, I’d argue that the delay was well worth it, especially to harness the power of the PS4’s technical capabilities.
My car-specific race took place is a mountainous region, full of lush greenery and trees along the side of the gorgeous rocky setting. The race actually starts at the crack of dawn, beginning the track in a dark setting lit only by the headlights of myself and other racers. Quite quickly the game brightens up, as the sun shines brightly through the cracks of foilage and through the clouds of dust kicked up on the track.
By sticking to closed courses, Sony and Evolution Studios can focus on creating a high fidelity racing experience in Driveclub that no other console offering can even come close to touching. Although, it comes at the expense of running at 30 FPS. To contrast with Forza Horizon 2, however, Driveclub is understandably a better visual product, but only because these two are entirely different racing beasts. Driveclub focuses more on advancing your club through races and progression through strict gameplay, while Forza Horizon 2 is more about exploration.
Something that I did notice, because of this, is how railroaded the Driveclub AI seemed to be. As much as your opponents’ goal is to finish the race in first, these AI racers did seem to drive in a very scripted manner, one that forcefully pushes you out of the way if you come into their intended path. While it’s been a staple of racing games for years, it was glaringly obtuse in this setting, and especially on a very tight track.
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This was the third racing game I got my hands on, and was the third game not to act like a racing sim. However, out of all entries tested, I felt like this was the closest in balance between an arcade title and a simulator. Driving at top speeds from a behind-the-car camera angle felt balanced, while a first person view kept up the feeling of pure speed. The Aston Martin’s handling required precise moves and the track involved sharp turns that requires delicate movements. The confines of the track meant it felt like a real race, as opposed to the blaze-through-the-fields sensibilities of the open world games.
Comparing The Three, Clinically
- In terms of pure graphical capabilities, Driveclub comes out dramatically on top because of its closed courses. Forza Horizon 2 looks a hell of a lot better than The Crew, although the latter has the hugest open world claim and is clearly sacrificing fidelity to pure data for the gaming platform to deal with.
- In terms of gameplay practicality, I appreciate what Forza Horizon 2 is aiming more just slightly more than Driveclub, just because of its openness. The Crew‘s demo didn’t give me enough opportunities to see its uniqueness in action from the get-go, which may be more of an issue with how the gameplay I got to see was presented.
- In terms of mechanics, I have to give it to Driveclub, followed by Forza Horizon 2, then The Crew.
- In terms of opponent AI, first place goes to The Crew, followed by Forza Horizon 2 then Driveclub.
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