E3 2014: DRIVECLUB Preview: A warm welcome to hardcore racing
The same veterans, and the highly competitive among PlayStation Universe readers, will appreciate that Evolution recognizes the competitive consequences behind its absurd attention to detail. For example, sunlight is accurately diluted and refracted by voluminous clouds--every one is rendered in three dimensions. Consequently, on a sunny day, the exact lighting at ground level, and the resulting dashboard glare and track visibility, will change with random cloud configurations. As such, when challenging a friend’s time, their racing conditions will be replicated exactly.
This all starts to sound hyper-technical, and I’d wager the majority of PlayStation gamers don’t want to spend more time thinking about their racer instead of just enjoying the feeling of tearing through exotic locales in the world’s most powerful cars. The racing meta-game certainly doesn’t interest me, which is why I’m pleased to no end by how fun and accessible DRIVECLUB remains for the jump-in-and-play types. The learning curve flattens quickly, but straight ahead, a mountain of technical detail and resulting unpredictability awaits for those who venture to conquer it.
Jaw-dropping detail extends to the game’s visual fidelity. Earlier, I called DRIVECLUB “Evolution’s PS4 showcase.” Much like the handling and satisfying feeling of driving, the game’s visuals have come miles since my demo at E3 2013. It looked good then, but now, it’s nothing short of being PS4’s most photorealistic game, topped only in cinematic beauty by perhaps The Order: 1886. Literal thousands of trees adorn sweeping ravines and mountains in the distance. Striations in window tint are visible in direct sunlight. Cars offer up constant, warped reflections of their immediate surroundings. Every pebble, tar line, and asphalt crack is individually placed, without any repeating textures or patterns. It’s a sight to behold, simultaneously validating Evolution’s decision to delay the planned PS4 launch title to October 2014 and exciting the imagination at what’s going to be possible on PS4 down the line.
Count me among the legions of casual, even disinterested, racing gamers--I’m still extremely excited for DRIVECLUB. Racing games are either hardcore simulators or inviting to casual players--you can’t have both. But DRIVECLUB shatters conventional thought and serves up a mechanically tight, visually striking experience that should appeal to Gran Turismo diehards and the last few Crash Team Racing players alike.----
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