Driver San Francisco is one of 2011's most surprisingly successful video games, with entertaining chase action and a barmy but endearing gameplay twist,
Whoever said silly couldn't be smart? It would have been tough to predict that one of 2011's more inspired video games would be a cross betweenQuantum Leap and the Dukes of Hazzard, where the main premise was a man that could supernaturally inhabit the driver of any car on the road of San Francisco. But here we are.
Ubisoft Reflections has taken a hare-brained premise and ran with it. Delivered with wit and panache, Driver San Francisco works because it's daft, rather than in spite of it. And if it proves anything, it's that having conviction in your ideas --any ideas-- can bring a refreshing new twist to an ailing series and genre.
You are speed demon/supercop John Tanner; long-term, long-suffering hero of the Driver series. At the beginning of the game, Tanner is walloped into a coma by arch-nemesis Charles Jericho and his big truck. A lack of consciousness is not enough to stop our John, however, with the dedicated cop supernaturally vacating his hospital-bed-ridden body and spiralling high into the air above the city. Floating over the sprawl of San Fran's hilly highways, Tanner can focus on a car --any car-- and possess the driver within. Often with hilarious results.
Initially 'Shifting', as the game calls it, is a nifty way of swapping cars and navigating the map. Driver San Francisco is reticent to give you the keys to the city from the get go, herding you through a clutch of laboured tutorials as you and Tanner come to terms with his new magical powers. Once you are let loose, however, Driver San Francisco thunders along at a ferocious speed, and the smart twists that Shift brings to the game begin to shine through