Behind the Wheel of Driver: San Francisco • Page 3

How Reflections is steering the series back on course.

There's nuance too: shift into one of Driver: San Francisco's front-wheel-drive cars and the difference is clear, with the rear much more reluctant to flick out. Nothing new, but not what you'd expect to find in a game that's often pinned down as having arcade sensibilities.

"The approach we use is real physics with one or two helpers - but not too many," reveals Edmonson, "Most driving games - if you extract Forza and Gran Turismo - they are almost pure arcade driving mechanics. It's a personal choice whether you like it or not.

"What we do is take a quite deep physics simulation base and apply some little helpers. It's a bit like putting traction control or ABS on a real car, we add these little software tweaks on this physics bed to make the car respond in a predictable way, but crucially to allow you as a player to experiment with it and discover new levels of depth."

It helps, too, that Driver: San Francisco is one of the fabled few that runs at a clean 60fps that only rarely dips. The frame-rate lends a butter-smooth fidelity to the handling, and it's another reminder of how sad it is that so few games have aspired to the same standard this generation.

More on Driver: San Francisco

"Remember, this is what the old arcade games used to run in - the Defenders through to the 3D things like Daytona and SEGA Rally - they all run at 60 fps and it was this accepted norm," says Edmonson, "Now we have all this power - and it's ridiculously more powerful than the old Model 2 boards - and everything runs at 30. You have some notable exceptions like Gran Turismo, Burnout or Modern Warfare, and for me it transforms the experience."

Reflections' return looks set to be triumphant then, and it's got a game that does the studio's heritage proud with its patina of innovation. But with a hostile climate facing racing games outside of Forza, Need for Speed and Gran Turismo, it'll need all that and more if it's going to succeed.

With the full support of Ubisoft behind the studio, it's unlikely that Reflections will go the way of either Black Rock or Bizarre, but their demise and the declining appetite for racing games is still a concern.

"What it does show is that innovation is not always rewarded," Edmonson says of the failure of both Split/Second and Blur, "and that's slightly worrying. Here we are with another thing that's difficult to sell, because people tend to want a slightly better version of what they already have. You try and go down the track of doing something slightly different and it has to be acknowledged that you're taking a big risk."

It's a big risk, but it's one that will hopefully pay off - for the sake of the genre, for the sake of the sadly diminishing British racing game scene and for the sake of a once-brilliant series that looks like it's recaptured its mojo.

Comments (57)

Comments for this article are now closed, but please feel free to continue chatting on the forum!