Update: I was unfortunately not aware of Shamus Young's severe criticism of Fallout 3 available here to link in the original piece and I regret that. It dovetails rather nicely with what I've written and it's much better executed than my piece. I strongly recommend anyone...
It's true. Simulation racing games and I don't get along. Put me behind the wheel of a Gran Turismo or Forza Motorsport and I'm likely to manage a real-life car accident. You'd find me on the side of the road. "I left you alone with my PS2 for an hour! How'd you wrap my car around a tree?" You asked me to play a racing game, and I suck at racing games. I told you already.
Regardless, my lust for PlayStation 4 experiences led me into Sony's massive E3 2013 booth. I've never seen a bigger space at the biggest expo in gaming, and plenty of next-gen kits were ready for the energetic gamers and writers. I saddled up to a DriveClub demo and truly entered the next-generation of racing games.
DriveClub makes for an interesting community experience, challenging you in different ways on different parts of every track. The devleoper pointed out these challenges as I raced through them: drift around this corner, reach a top speed on this straight away, set a fast lap time. An opponent popped up on my screen, along with their score and a sort of holographic outline, letting me know the area I had to improve in each category.
A line on the track let me know that where the drift challenge started and stopped, so I wasted no time jamming on the left trigger to start a drift. The PS4's DualShock 4 controller met me with just enough resistance, but my lead foot was too eager and I spun out. Keeping those realistic physics in mind, I sped off to explore the rest of the track and decided to play more conservatively.
Apparently I hadn't learned my lesson yet, because I repeated the same mistake that put me off-road earlier. In trying to correct, I oversteered and rammed the steel barrier nearly head-on, and then the next-generation hit me. I'm not saying this has never happened in a video game. Maybe it's out there in a game I haven't played, but I've never seen this in a game.
The barrier bent as I flew into it at high-speed in my Audi. As detailed as the car's damage modeling looked, it wasn't nearly as impactful as the way even scenary reacted. How many times have you rammed your high-end vehicle into the environment and never seen a reaction? How many times has the world remained unreactive and uncaring?
I was amazed by the fidelity of it all and even as a new IP and an admittedly generic one at that, DriveClub probably won't sell anyone on the PlayStation 4, but it will be absolutely necessary to your online, next-generation experience on day 1. DriveClub seems to capture the socially addictive nature inherent in a long-term online experience, but more importantly, it's a next-gen title ready for launch. Oh, and PlayStation Plus gamers can play the game for free from the beginning of the PS4 launch. You won't get as many cars or tracks, but there's a guaranteed community full of competitive next-gen gamers waiting for you.