Coin: Evolution Studios
It’s unlikely that I’ll ever get the chance to design a driving game. But if I did, there would be a list of criteria I would insist upon. It’s quite a negative list, if I’m to be perfectly honest – and one that flies in the face of a lot of commonly accepted wisdom about what makes a ‘progressive’ racer. But that’s kind of the point. Racing games should focus on just that: racing. Everything else that we’ve bolted on over the last two decades is window-dressing to the main event.
So here it is. The list.
In no particular order, an ideal driving game should have:
1. No plot
2. No announcer
3. No chart music
4. No real-world tracks
5. No long load times
6. No load times on a restart
7. No car upgrades
8. No car set-up options
9. No cars I can afford
10. No open-world
The last truly great racer that I played, Project Gotham Racing 2, ticked all of the above boxes. In fact it’s the reason this list exists. OK, there were a few real-world tracks in there – but the plethora of thoroughly exciting original ones more than made up for the rigid, uninspiring sense that comes from developers just going out to a track with a tape measure and getting all anal about re-creating reality, corner by corner. You only have to look at the Wipeout series to see how much more fun can be had with a blank canvas.
And there was me thinking that lightening wouldn’t strike twice #PGR
There’s been a hell of a lot of driving games since PGR2, but none to my mind that stay true to the list. In fact, when you think about it, most driving games since have tried their damnedest to do the exact opposite by either: a) pretending that they’re bringing something new to the table; b) covering-up technological deficiencies or c) satisfying the lust of their somewhat egotistical developers at the expense of the end-user experience.
Even games that have come pretty close – say the Grid and Dirt series – have committed at least three of the deadly sins. And don’t get me started on the frankly repulsive street-fest-open-world-orgies that are Horizon and Need For Speed. Don’t get me wrong: there’s some fun to be had with these titles, but they’re gaudy facsimiles of the driving experience, nothing more.
Which brings us to Driveclub. Which ticks all of the above boxes. Whilst throwing in some of the most drop-dead-mind-blowing graphics that I’ve ever seen on a console. And is, as such, one of the most consistently thrilling driving games that I have ever played.
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Husband. Parent. Gamer. Go figure.