The demo for Driver: San Francisco hit PS3 and Xbox 360 today, and it’s packing three missions; two of which show off Tanner’s new “Shift” ability. After playing through each mission twice, here are my impressions of the Driver: San Francisco demo.
The first mission listed is called Prove It, where you (as Tanner) have to Shift and take control of another driver and do a few stunts to try and convince your partner Tobias that you actually do have a power to enter other people’s bodies and take control. Before you get into the driving, you’re greeted with a cutscene of Tanner and Tobias talking, and it looks great. I always liked the cinematic feel of the original Driver, and this one definitely has that. The stunts you have to perform are fairly simple: Shift to the target and then jump a transport truck; Shift to the target again and then hit a cop car, and then lose the cops; and finally Shift to the target again and ram the back of a tow truck. This mission is quick, but serves as a nice tutorial to concept of Shift.
One thing that that I really liked about Shifting, is that you hear the conversation of whoever was in that car. Shifting itself isn’t as goofy as I thought it would be. Yes, the gimmick is silly, but it’s really simple and easy to do, and should make for some intense and fun moments in the full open world game.
The second mission is called Team Colors, and it represents a side mission from the game as well as introducing the player to the Rapid Shift ability. Here, you jump into a four car street race involving a father-daughter racing team, and you can instantly Shift between the two. The goal here is to get the father-daughter team to finish first and second. While you’re controlling one and getting it into first, maybe the other driver has fallen behind, and you’ll just Rapid Shift and almost instantly take control of that. Taking full advantage of this, you can easily keep the team first and second. This mission is quite fun.
The final mission is called Escape and it’s all about the driving, not Shifting. In this one, you’ll need to pick up someone working for Jericho and get him to his destination. You’ll have to escape a load of cops at two different points. It’s here that you can see how the driving shines. This mission feels like classic Driver, and that’s a very good thing.
The driving itself isn’t perfect. Turning can be extremely difficult, unless you slow way down before getting to the turn. Even the handbrake doesn’t help much at all for sharp turns, and sometimes you’ll definitely wish it did when you’re running from the police.
There are 120 real licensed cars in the game (and they all look great), and they all take damage. I don’t know how much damage they can take, but I know I gave the car in the final mission absolute hell (slamming into cars, buildings, jumping hills, etc.) and never managed to tear it up or get caught by the police. That could just be a demo thing, or heck maybe I didn’t wreck as bad and as often as I think I did.
I enjoyed the first Driver a lot, and the second one as well. I even liked the third one, even if it was less Driver and more Grand Theft Auto. This one sports the same name as the original, and it’s definitely a return to form for the franchise. I was a little worried when I first heard of the Shift ability months ago, and was thinking “why can’t they just make a Driver game like the original Driver?” Well, now that I’ve experienced the Shift, I really don’t mind it all. If anything, I actually see how this new feature can enhance the game and make for some really fun gameplay. The game, just judging from the demo, also sports a pretty nice soundtrack as well with tracks you can skip by using the D-pad.
Basically, the demo has made a believer out of me. I highly recommend checking it out and downloading the demo ASAP and become the wheelman once again. The full game hits store shelves on September 6th for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3.