When stepping into Sony's booth at E3, my eyes darted to one empty game kiosk. Sony reps invited me to play a popular racing game that I was certain would take me back to the days where I'd pass hours of time fine-tuning my vehicle to beat my best records by seconds.
The game being offered was Gran Turismo 6 for PS3. Within seconds of starting the demo, I attempted to follow a blue line on the road and immediately hit a wall. I never totally gained confidence behind the wheel, and constantly went off-course. Even though I played games such as Test Drive 4 and Gran Turismo for dozens of hours on the PlayStation, my lack of time on the road in recent years left me in the dust.
Afterwards, I picked up a DualShock 4 controller and played a brief track in Driveclub. Again, I spun out almost immediately, but quickly picked up the controls and stayed course, finishing the race with a not-so-terrible record. Accessibility was a driving point impressed upon me by Technical Art Director Alex Perkins, and I saw it firsthand. I rarely felt like I was over-steering on tight turns, despite the powerful car I was driving. With simple gas, brake and handbrake controls, the pick-up-and-play nature of Driveclub instilled more confidence in me than Gran Turismo 6 could in its first few moments.
That level of accessibility, along with the fact that Driveclub won't feature some of the flashy, RPG-like upgradeable elements such as customizable car parts, indicates that Driveclub is an arcade-style racer. It makes sense, too: Perkins noted that when you unlock cars in the game, you receive the "best version of that car." As the developer wondered: what more could you want?
Driveclub makes its case as a simulation game based on its visuals alone. Coming to a complete stop, I started to pick out stones in the pavement, or blades of grass lining the road. It wasn't amazingly different than other high-fidelity simulation racers, and the likes of next-gen racing giants such as Forza 5 may look even better than Driveclub. Still, when taken in conjunction with the near-realistic skies and crisp, shiny car I was driving, the visual elements of Driveclub couldn't be taken as less than impressive.
Stripping out some of the car customization options while maintaining a gorgeous, simulation racer-like feel in Driveclub might make for a welcome entry point to the PlayStation 4 lineup. Evolution Studios is gearing up to make their racer a launch title for the system, and it's shaping up to be one worth taking out for a spin later this year.