DriveClub Hands-On: Lacks finesse but there's potential [E3 2013]

By Ural Garrett , Updated Jun 12, 2013 09:01 AM EDT

Instead of matching Microsoft's Forza Motorsport 5 and moving its Gran Turismo series to Playstation 4 for a launch title, Sony's first next-gen racer is set to be the Evolution Studios-developed DriveClub. From the looks of things demonstrated from its E3 demo, DriveClub may be Sony's answer to Project Gotham Racing as Forza Motorsport was Microsoft's answer to Gran Turismo

The demo started by selecting from cars like Hennessy's Venom GT and McLaren's F1 to race on a track based in Kinloch, Scotland. Then a head shot is taken with Sony's camera peripheral before the race starts. 

DriveClub's most touted feature is its team racing element that was put to interesting use during the demo. Essentially a four-on-four time trial, the goal was to outrace and outperform the other team.  These are done by completing seamlessly placed objectives around the track through "Fame" points besides trying to get the best lap-time. Fame points work almost like Project Gotham Racing's Kudos system. During the team time trial, one section of the track had players getting the highest top speed while another turned into a quick drift contest before being judged on how perfect an S-curve was driven through. 

This was all in one lap. 

There was a sense that each racer in the team contributed to the score system leading to a feeling of camaraderie normally never seen in a racer.  

Vehicle handling feels a lot like Project Gotham Racing with its blend of arcade and sim-like handling. This is more prevalent in corners where drifting had a weight grounded in reality yet, there was a slight ease in performing the technique. 

Representatives for Evolution commented that the current DriveClub build is only 35 percent complete and the visuals lend to it. DriveClub doesn't look all that great at just 30fps, especially considering Forza 5 and Need for Speed Rivals. There's an impressive draw distance and the lighting does lend to a believability of being an afternoon drive but everything else is lacking at the moment. Gran Turismo 6's Playstation 3 car models look better than DriveClub's which doesn't make much sense. 

Outside of visuals, DriveClub feels like a fun experience from what was played. The team aspect may be worth the price (free to Playstation Plus members at launch) of admission if expanded upon correctly. Looks like the team behind Motorstorm can perform on-road as well as it can off-road.

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