One of the first things I did (after the hours of updates) when I bought my Playstation 4 last October was to pre-order Driveclub from the PSN store. Evolution has a great track record when it came to driving games and from all the videos and photos I had seen of the game, it quite simply looked beautiful, and the social aspect of the game sounded really interesting as well.
Forward a week and my digital copy of Driveclub was pre-installed and ready for me to play. 12am arrived on October 10 and I immediately started loading the game. Anticipation levels were quite high, so to be faced with an error message popping up right after the title screen, I have to admit I was a little disappointed. Sadly this was only to get worse, a friend of mine was trying in vain to form a club and after around an hour or so and countless server error messages, he finally managed to create a club, but my attempts to join it seemed impossible that night.
These sort of problems more or less summed up just how bad the launch of Driveclub was. Server issues continued to dog this title for many weeks, and players of the game like myself soon got used to the red text appearing on the screen when driving, informing us that Driveclub’s servers were once again down and things like times, ghost data and club progress would not be saved.
The game was receiving by now an awful lot of negative press and forums were full of people complaining and demanding some form of compensation for the mess the online and social aspects of Driveclub were in. What made it worse, the actual game was bloody good. Okay it may not have looked quite as good as the pre-release videos had made it look, but my God was it good fun to play and with a sense of speed I believe is up there with the best of any videogame there has ever been. We here at Gamestyle originally reviewed it a few weeks after its release and were impressed with it, but bemoaned the server issues that were still plaguing it.
Four months after its release, playing Driveclub now is almost a completely different experience. Evolution Studios really have to take a lot of credit and praise for turning it around and saving a game which was the biggest exclusive the PS4 had over the recent Christmas period. Introducing new features like the simply quite stunning dynamic weather, which has to make Driveclub the best looking console game I have ever seen. The free tracks and cars they gave away as a form of apology for all the server troubles, and lastly just making all the features the game was supposed to launch with work, including the addictive challenge mode which has has me staying up many a night to trying, and usually failing, to beat my friends times over the nice varied track selection this game can now boast.
Driveclub, after it’s initial problems is now simply one of the most fun and thrilling driving games I have ever played. Sure there a still a few things wrong with it, for example there is still no option for private lobbies when playing online and the forthcoming replay feature will hopefully arrive soon, to further allow me to admire the sheer beauty of this game, but overall the current state of the game is now a million miles away to how it was when it first launched.
But to put it simply playing Driveclub now is a joyous experience, hardly a day passes by, where I don’t load it up, even if it is just to play a single time trial on one of my favorite tracks (for which there are loads of them). This is helped by the arcade structure of the game, unlike for example Forza Horizon 2 with its open world take on the driving game, in Driveclub you are only eight button presses(and very little loading time) away from getting on the road and driving along some of the most beautiful vistas a video game has ever rendered. It’s arcade nature also means its handling is lot less po faced and more accessible than other games, which means almost any gamer can grab their controller and be driving a beast like the Pagani Huayra with very little practice.
Maybe it feels like I am heaping just too much praise on a game that was in such a bad state when it launched, but honestly, I really feel it is all very much deserved. I know this may be blasphemous to some people, but I am happy to say now almost all of it’s issues have be ironed out, I would rank Driveclub alongside Project Gotham Racing 2 as the best driving game of its kind.
Evolution Studios and Sony were quite rightly pilloried for the debacle that surrounded Driveclub when it launched and their slow response when it came to fixing the servers. But equally now, they should also be praised for listening to all the complaints, and with a lot of hard, and I expect many, long nights, they now have a game they can really be proud of. I personally believe they have been a shining example of a developer that has listened to their customers and have given gamers, after a little time, what we originally wanted from Driveclub. A bloody great driving game, that is now one of the jewels in the PS4’s crown.