Since the release of Driver: Parallel Lanes in 2006, gamers have been eager to become immersed in the sandbox driving series once again. One point which was somewhat lacking in Parallel Lanes was the lack of multiplayer action. Thankfully, for those who enjoy playing with others as well as themselves, Driver: San Francisco has gone to some effort to introduce a multiplayer element. Recently PALGN was able to get a hands-on feel for some of the multiplayer modes in Driver: San Francisco. Needless to say, much rubber was burned and many a car was smashed up in the process.
There are many multiplayer options in Driver: San Francisco, but our own playtest mainly focused on three of the more unconventional set-ups. The first of these was the tag mode, which plays out very much like the games of schoolyard tag that you may have played as a kid. In tag mode, one car starts off as the target and is lit up in red, and it's up to all of the other players to try and ram their car into them to make themselves 'it.' The tagged car has a counter on it which accumulates over time, and the first car to get a total of 100 will win the game. Those who are chasing the tagged car have the ability to switch cars at will. By pressing and holding the right shoulder button, you will get a fix on the tagged car's location, wherever it may be on the map. While holding the right trigger, you can use the left analogue stick to swivel your target around to find the right car for you, and to choose it is a matter of releasing the right trigger. What's particularly impressive about this is the sheer variety of cars that you can switch into, all with their own advantages and disadvantages. There are of course your standard sedans, minivans and sports cars, but there's also a chance to acquire things with a bit more grunt like four wheel drives, trucks and even a fire engine. We ended up enjoying ourselves quite a lot on this one - the unpredictability of the cars that could be chosen and the thrill of evading as the tagged car for as long as possible were both qualities that really drew us in. There was also quite a bit of simple lunacy when we had a few four-car pileups that made the tagged car switch at dizzying speeds.
The second mode that we had a good and proper slog at was Takedown mode. In this set-up, one player is selected as a perp and remains so for the duration of the game. All of the other players take on the role of police, whose job it is to continually ram the perp's car until it breaks down and explodes. The police have the option of switching cars in a similar way to tag mode, and any car that is switched to ends up instantly transforming into a cop car, complete with the right shaped chassis, paint job and lights. Switching around is a luxury that the perp car doesn't have, however, and they must remain in their form for as long as the game lasts, which ends when either the time runs out or the perp car is destroyed. Out of all of the modes that we tried, this one will likely prove to be the most divisive for players. The perp car can be at a real disadvantage when it has four others hunting it down at every turn, but at the same time a win by someone in the perp car is possibly one of the most gratifying online wins that one could hope for. It requires a lot of skill on the part of the perp car to evade and hopefully find some areas that aren't replete with cars that the police can switch into to give you a proper pounding.
Last of the modes that we were able to log some solid time with was Trailblazer mode. Within Trailblazer mode, your task is to follow the light streams of a computer-controlled car for as long as possible. However, some players will be pleased to know that the car that you are following is not some ordinary car but is in fact a DeLorean, which makes the Trailblazer mode a bit of a humble tribute to the Back to the Future films. The Delorean itself glows as it drives around the streets, and the streams change colours whenever a car is able to come into contact with one or both of them. The streams can extend for a considerable length until a car is able to come into contact with one of them, which causes the stream to extend only between the DeLorean and your own car. The trick here is that streams won't extend behind your car and any car that is able to come in front of you can come into contact with the streams, so it's best to be as close to the rear of the DeLorean as possible. Similar to Tag mode, a meter will fill up to gauge how long you've been able to stick on the path of the DeLorean, and extra points are granted if you are able to stay on the path of both streams at once. Players also have the ability to switch out to different vehicles, so you can expect a lot of players to swap over to fire engines to try and ram you off the path of the streams so they can take their own place right behind the DeLorean. From the modes we played, this is probably the most even of them all. The fact that the DeLorean is computer controller gives a much more level playing field and it's far easier to keep track of and switch to cars surrounding just one car.
Though we only got a small sample of what's on offer, we really did like what we saw from the multiplayer modes of Driver: San Francisco. It's something a little bit different to what we're used to from a Driver game and it's clear that the developers have gone some way to make the experience as smooth as possible. All of the modes are polished in every which way possible, and it looks like it will be a blast for both local and online play.