To clarify: I didn’t buy Driveclub before it was (almost) finished, a good while after release and even then it was second-hand. That Sony have so far made no money from me directly for Driveclub feels the correct response to their ineptitude with the game upon release. The launch was an utter mess, and the useless communications they offered did as much damage as the useless server code. There are so many things Sony need to learn from this, but they probably won’t. It was, frankly, a disgrace. Combined with Halo: Master Chief Collection and Assassin’s Creed Unity, 2014 was the year publishers realised gamers will buy stuff regardless. A real low point in the history of the medium.
With all that in mind: I bloody love Driveclub.
Its preposterously pretty, of course. The effect when the rain pours in Scotland is convincing enough for us to have not worried if they’d taken their independence. The handling manages to convey the feeling of these being real, and different, cars without becoming at all bogged down in simulation. Whilst the AI is one step down from firing green shells, the time trials are all-but perfect. Well designed tracks combined with the handling give the feeling you can and the feeling that you can truly get better.
Thinking back I don’t think a racing game has been my pick of the year since Sega Rally appeared on the Saturn. Like that game, and despite what the promotion for Driveclub said, this isn’t an epic. It’s small, focused and frankly old fashioned. Shaving off microseconds is enough to make me ignore the racing entirely, clubs becoming a reason for doing specific time trials and for that alone, it’s my game of the year. Graphically this is the start of this generation really showing us what it can do and the combination makes Driveclub truly magnificent.
(When the servers work.)