The moment you know that Driver: San Francisco is a special game is when it asks you to finish first, second and third in the same single race. But, in truth, you'd probably already had a fair inkling of its greatness well before that point: you'd feel it in the precision drifts of your Dodge Challenger, or in the squat thud as you pound over one of the city's hills and land a graceful jump. Driver: San Francisco is a game that's incredibly easy to fall in love with.
"Make no mistake," said SEGA this week, "if one quarter of the people that usually pirate [Football Manager] switch to purchasing Football Manager 2012, the sales of the game worldwide would more than double." That was the eye-opening statistic used to justify Football Manager 2012 requiring Steam to play. In other words, more than 80 per cent of people playing Football Manager are doing so with a pirated copy.
Back in PlayStation 1 days, Driver was the height of gaming, a pioneer in the open world mission-based driving genre. And Newcastle-based developer Reflections was a power-house. But Driver 2 stalled and Driver 3 crashed. Driver: Parallel Lines was better.
It has begun - and what better way to celebrate the fact it's not silly season any more than the sight of Zumba Fitness descending the Top 10 rather than bouncing around the summit?
When people associated with long-running video game series tell you, "We've made some real changes this time around," they generally mean that they've added a crouch button. When one of the Ubisoft Reflections team said that to me last year, however, they really weren't kidding.
Driver used to be the game where you could get out of your car. Now it's the game where you can get out of your body. That said, you can't get out of your car anymore. Bloody life, eh?