The game Driver: San Francisco takes place from the perspective of John Tanner with his partner Tobias Jones. After a semi-truck hits the driver’s side of your car, you survive but are placed into a coma. The game, for the most part, takes place in Tanner’s coma dream state at the hospital. What makes the game special is the way the game works. The whole idea of teleporting into a person’s vehicle is almost unheard of, and I haven’t found any other car game using these mechanics.
There are over 141 different vehicles in the entire game to choose from, but some of these vehicles are unfortunately only available in either the story or special missions. Although most of the vehicle companies are real, there are a few that are fictional ones, those being ASYM, Caisson, Dykemann, Camion and YARE.
The storyline of the game is done in chapters with cutscenes in between each chapter. Also as the game progresses you’ll gain more challenges with can give you either a vehicle to unlock or the game currency to buy other vehicles. Each chapter has missions within them, usually being race, chase and stunt missions, with a story mission becoming unlocked once you complete all the others. A simple way to signify this was a bold yellow outline around the missions. As the story progresses, Tanner gets new abilities, the first of which being ‘Shift’. This ability is sort of self-explanatory, for you shift between vehicles at any given time. The second power you’d get during the story would be ‘Boost’, which, like the name implies, gives you a boost. However, one thing that comes with this ability is that there is a metre to stop you from having unlimited boosting power. If you use all this metre up, you’ll naturally have to wait for it to recharge. The third and final ability you get is ‘Ram’, which, like boost, comes with its own set of rules. The first rule it has is that this also uses the ability metre. The second rule is that if you miss the vehicle that you were trying to ram, your own vehicle loses about half the speed you once had. That is the only downside to the ‘Ram’ ability.
When Driver was released on September 1st, 2011, it came out to great reviews, with most likely the reason being from the whole ‘Shift’ ability, and I would agree that its understandable. The thought of stealing a car became pointless, but in circumstances like where you’re being chased by cops teleporting into another car didn’t make you escape the cops; it instead continued the chase in your new vehicle, and that made me enjoy the game when I got it. Another thing that I enjoyed about the game was the movie missions that you could do, but the only downside was that you had to collect 130 movie tokens, and they don’t appear on the map, so you would either how to watch a video on all the locations or you just look for them yourself.
Naturally, something that comes with all games are glitches/bugs, and these glitches range from expected to whacky. One of my favourites is the “Weather Glitch”, as dubbed by the community. The way you do this glitch is you go into a challenge (you choose whichever one you like to do the glitch on). First thing you want to do is start the challenge and rapidly open and close the menu until the sound disappears completely from your car. Then, open the menu one more time and press restart. After all that, you then press cancel, and the glitch should work. Over the years, I have encountered glitches, from car textures glitching out unlimited health to stuff like your character driving in invisible vehicles. But I’m just going on a tangent.
Now we move onto something a bit more disheartening about this game, and its rather disappointing to begin with, especially when it’s a game like this. In 2016 the game was taken off store shelves and was delisted from digital storefronts like Steam and a few others on December 9th the same year. Once this happened, the game was made virtually impossible to buy and play on (no pun intended). This is quite disappointing since now the only way of obtaining this game is either buying a copy off eBay, Amazon and other websites or downloading a folder off some sketchy website. What makes this even worse is that on the 1st of September this year, they turned off the online servers, the second horrible thing done to this game.
But there is some hope for the Driver series to continue. Although the idea is a weird one, it does have the potential. The idea is a live-action series supposedly coming out Binge, probably featuring the duo Tanner and Jones. Even though it is far off from what the community wanted, I personally think it’s got the ability to prevail under the right circumstances. And the people making this series, you might ask? Well, no one other than Ubisoft, and what’s surprising is that even though they’re making this live-action series based around one of the games, it has been 11 years since any main series game came out. I think that although most fans of the franchise are annoyed about a live-action series instead of another game being done, we should cherish this for as long as we can because this might be the last chance for the franchise to stay around.