E3 2010: Driver: San Francisco adds coma-induced super-carjacking

The problem with most driving games, whether simple racers or mission-based open world games, is that it takes too long to switch vehicles. Even if you can just steal whatever you like, who has time to get out, walk around, open doors … it’s all nonsense. Turns out, being tied to your corporeal body is the real problem. Once you can detach your soul from your body, as you can in Driver: San Francisco, gameplay opens right up.

Confused? Read on. John Tanner, the main character from the very first Driver game, has returned in the latest game. Unfortunately, so has his arch-enemy, Jericho. And very early on in the game, Tanner has a disastrous accident that puts him in a coma. However, thanks to the wonder of video games and plot-convenient selective memory, Tanner doesn’t actually realize he’s in a coma. Now sure, there are probably many real-world coma victims who don’t know they’re laid up. But Tanner is uniquely, almost historically dense – he doesn’t realize something is up even though he seems to have gained a new SUPER POWER, called “Shift”, after his brush with death.

Shift is the big twist in Driver: San Francisco – you’re playing an open world, similar to a Grand Theft Auto game, and you can take command of any vehicle at any time. And by this, we don’t mean he stands in front of some poor schlub’s ride, waits for them to stop, and yanks them out of the driver’s seat. No, we mean you zoom out to a bird’s eye view of the entire cityscape and can insta-snap into any other vehicle you like (except for the one you’re chasing, we’d gather) just like the Agents in that car chase from the second Matrix movie.

Gimmick with a ridiculous premise or not, our first reaction? This. Is. AWESOME. For example, if you’re sitting in your muscle car and some perp drives by, pursued by a police cruiser, you can commandeer the cop’s car and take up the chase. And if your quarry dodges down a narrow side street but there’s a semi truck coming toward him from the other direction, you can shift into the cab, slam the wheel sideways and send 18 wheels of jackknifed big rig shooting down the street right toward him, three lanes wide. And that’s just a side mission you could make up for yourself. Imagine what opportunities await in the actual plot-related missions.

We’ll have more on Driver: San Francisco and Tanner’s questionable capacity for logic as it develops. This look legitimately exciting.

June 14, 2010