It is totally unfair to compare Driveclub to Forza Horizon 2.
Sure, they’re both racing games that released within weeks of each other, but that’s where the similarities end. One (Driveclub) is an arcade racer that poses as as simulation title while the other (Forza Horizon 2) is an open-world simulation racer that appears to have arcade-y tendencies. Oh, and one is a launch title that released 11 months after its console debuted and the other showcases what is possible on new-generation hardware.
Spoiler alert: Driveclub is the launch title.
It only then seems fair that I compare it to other racing games that launched with new consoles last November. We’ll start with a head-to-head comparison of Driveclub and Forza Motorsport 5.
Forza 5 is the definition of a launch title, a game based more on premise and possibility than actual delivery. Driveclub absolutely dwarfs it in terms of scope and execution, offering a diverse selection of locales and tracks to play. Forza 5‘s misstep in this area is magnified by the fact that it’s been an issue that has plagued the Motorsport franchise for quite some time. Add in the fact that the track selection of Forza 5 is smaller than that of Forza 4 and it’s a recipe for disaster. Thankfully, Driveclub offers gamers a welcome alternative when it comes to their racing locales.
This is only magnified when you begin to consider Driveclub‘s impressive lighting system. As races go on, you’ll have to battle the elements in addition to your fellow drivers. The sun’s impact on a track is, at times, downright brutal, casting shadows and blinding your view at times. Surprisingly, this never feels like a bother, instead providing a unique challenge that hasn’t been seen often in the racing genre. What’s even more impressive is when day turns to night mid-race, adding a new dynamic to the track. While cars are able to illuminate the track via their headlights, things can still get incredibly dark, offering yet another challenge to each race.
It’s just a shame that Driveclub‘s handling is absolutely abysmal.
While Forza Motorsport 5 may be lacking in the features department, it is an incredibly technically sound game, offering optimal performance when it comes to not only tweaking your car, but also driving it. In fact, it runs circles around Driveclub, with the icing on the cake being the comparisons between AI drivers.
As you may recall from the months leading up to Forza 5‘s release, developer Turn 10 was introducing the concept of a Drivatar, an AI that takes on the personality of actual drivers based on their history in races. The concept delivered full front; we saw drivers being complete jerks, going off road, and giving no regard for a race’s “suggested line,” resulting in a more enjoyable single-player racing experience. Driveclub has no Drivatars. Instead, we have AI drivers that obey the suggested line by any means necessary, whether it’s pretending the player doesn’t exist on the track or rubber banding to the perfect line on a road faster than the laws of science allow.
While Driveclub may offer a change of pace in terms of its track selection compared to Forza Motorsport 5, I still find that Forza offers a better racing experience. With that being said, let’s look at the other launch racer Need for Speed Rivals, an arcade style and competitive oriented affair. Rivals is all about one thing: going fast and going over the top. Two things, then: going fast, going over the top, and avoiding the police/catching those pesky racers (Rivals‘ multiplayer is centered around car chases featuring cops and racers). Before turning this into a Spanish Inquisition sketch, I’ll sum up my feelings on Need for Speed Rivals: it was damn fun.
Driveclub is not ‘damn fun’. While offering a sense of speed and online races can be fun, there’s too much frustration to be found. Connecting to these online races is a hit-or-miss proposition and the decision by developer Evolution Studios to essentially call lobbies “Events” is beyond puzzling. The same could be said for the way they game has been showcased. I want to play it as a simulation style racer, but I feel like I’m punished for it. Instead, I opt for an arcade approach when it comes to playing and while I do well, there’s a disconnect felt between myself and the game.
There’s also this god-awful screeching sound from my tires that never stops and it makes me want to destroy anything in my sight.
Look, the bottom line is this: Driveclub feels like a launch game. It plays like a launch game. Compared to other launch games within the racing genre, it’s absolutely blown away. It feels like a game that should have ultimately cancelled, but due to its high profile view in the PS4’s launch, such an occurrence wouldn’t be possible.
At least we have the PS-Plus version to look forward to, whenever that might be.