Console Corner: Pure, brilliant arcade racing

My customised (West Ham influenced) Marussia on Driveclub

My customised (West Ham influenced) Marussia on Driveclub

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Ridge Racer, Wipeout, Need for Speed, Project Gotham... these are the racing games we remember, the games that gave us so much joy, the games we played over and over with our friends.

When someone asks me what is my favourite racing game, Gran Turismo, Forza and the like – as brilliant as they are in their own right – are way down the list.

To me they need their own category, role playing racing games or something that hints at how pedantic and boring they could be sometimes.

If I’m sat playing my computer (with a control pad in my hand) I want to race, on beautiful tracks with cool cars against mates. I want to beat challenges, unlock cars and tracks and bonus stuff.

I don’t want to race for days to earn enough credit to buy a brake caliper or a new suspension kit and worry about the fine tuning of my car.

We’re not actually driving a Porsche, so I couldn’t give a flying Fiat what induction filter I’ve got!

Driveclub takes the good things from all those classics like PGR and Ridge Racer – you know the bloodthumping racing, the raw simplicity of racing lines and great tracks.

It gives it the gloss of and beauty of a Gran Turismo or Forza (as you’d expect on a console with the power of the Playstation 4) and adds a whole new social element.

At the time of writing I have only had limited time playing online in Driveclub due to server issues that have somewhat spoiled its opening weekend.

But you can make a club of six people, customise your paint jobs and badges etc and earn rewards and points for your club even when racing alone.

The game isn’t perfect mind. Damage doesn’t hurt the car’s driving performance which takes a slight edge off and the handling is a bit samey for a lot of the cars.

But it keeps you coming back and I found it so hard to put down. Setting challenges on tracks is a brilliant social function and the driver level system is simple and well engineered.

Driveclub brings arcade racing back to our consoles with a vengeance. But anyone expecting an ultra-involved racing sim should look elsewhere. Verdict: 8/10

Driveclub was released last Friday exclusively on PS4.

UPDATE: Server problems that blighted opening weekend continue to minimise the online playing experience. Evolution Studios claim the pre-launch server testing proved the game was ready for launch but blamed a number of bugs for the issues and say they are working on fixes.