DriveClub VR PlayStation VR Review
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Developer: Evolution Studios
Genre: Racing Players: 1-8 Age Rating: 3+ Other console/handheld formats: N/A
With immensely detailed cars, lighting and weather, DriveClub is one of the most beautiful games that money can buy. DriveClub VR, on the other hand, is the ugly duckling of the DriveClub family, but if you can get past the disappointing visuals, it’s still a racer that is well worth playing.
Of course developer Evolution Studios’ major barrier with the visuals was the processing power of the PS4 as well as the PlayStation VR headset’s screen. I do feel rather unkind to say this, but in comparison to the original game, DriveClub VR is an ugly mess. Firstly, there are only 8 competitors on the track as opposed to 12, which is one compromise I can easily deal with. The major drop in environmental detail and the rather blurry visuals, however, are a bit more difficult to swallow, and it really is so in-your-face obvious that it’s difficult to not feel disappointed; racing at night can be particularly difficult at times due to the blurry image projected in the headset. While by and large, I have been able to see far enough ahead to spot where corners are when speeding along, I must admit that vision is too limited at certain points when racing on particular tracks at night. The amazing weather effects which were eventually added to the original game are also obvious in their absence.
Saying that, the visuals aren’t all bad though. There’s some excellent lighting, the interiors of the cars, while blurry and lacking window reflections, are lovingly detailed, and there’s also a nice 3D effect when things such as leaves, confetti and carrier bags blow towards your windscreen. Also, DriveClub VR is the first DriveClub game that runs at a smooth 60fps (converted to 120fps in the headset), so the drop in visual quality hasn’t resulted in a complete disaster.
Another way in which the game avoids disaster is just how immersive of a racing experience that the game offers, and it’s made even more so if you play it with a racing wheel. Even with the massively stripped down visuals, it really does feel as if you are inside each of the game’s 80 cars. Being able to look around to see where your opponents are, making use of your mirrors, and having more scope to judge corners and overtaking manoeuvres really does add so much to the experience and, even with the poor visuals, it’s all enough to make you forget about everything else going on in the world outside your headset. Well, that’s if the game doesn’t make you feel sick that is. I’m lucky in the way that I’m able to play any game in VR without being affected in any way, although I realise that some people haven’t been so lucky.
Elsewhere, with its handling being arcade crossed with simulation, this is the DriveClub that you may know really well. The loading times are still very brisk, and you can also join online clubs in the same way that you could in the original game. There’s online multiplayer as well, for when you want to take on the world.
Face off Challenges still appear on the tracks in which you are tasked with beating another player’s drift, cornering or top speed through certain sections, and all the wonderful tracks from the original game are also in here. If you are wondering, the game also features 5 brand new tracks, which have also now been added to the beautiful original game in a very generous final update. The new tracks are urban-based, and are memorable enough, even with all the blurriness.
The Tour mode also works in the same way as the original game, although it’s a more condensed version of the mode. You still unlock race, time trial and drift events by earning stars, with each race having their own challenges, such as beating a certain driver, finishing 1st, and so on, with completing these challenges earning you those aforementioned stars. With 160 gold stars to earn in the entire mode, you’ll most likely be forced to retry a lot of races if you are aiming for perfection. The easy mode, which was added to the original game, is also an option if you are struggling with certain events.
To get DriveClub running so smoothly on PlayStation VR, Evolution Studios’ really were forced to make some compromises. While these compromises have resulted in a significant visual downgrade, DriveClub VR is still an absorbing racing game. While it’s difficult to not play the game without wishing that it had been possible for it to carry the same visual splendour as the gorgeous original game, the trade-off is still mostly worthwhile for what is a racing game in the early days of console VR.