DriveClub has become a kind of PlayStation 4 comfort food for this reviewer. With the troubles of its launch firmly planted in its rear view mirror, Evolution Studios deserves credit for maintaining the relevancy of its arcade racer over a year removed from its original release. This new motorcycle expansion – available as both an add-on for the main game and as a standalone download – aims to keep you on the road even longer, and while it doesn't make any sweeping changes to the outing's core formula, it's a timely reminder that the title's still very much in top gear.
So, what does your ridiculously reasonable £15.99/$19.99 get you? The main attractions are the 12 superbikes themselves – beastly contraptions from manufacturers such as Kawasaki and Yamaha, eager to throb purposefully between your thighs. The motorcycles are as meticulously rendered as you'd expect, but it's the audio that's the real standout here: exhausts pop, engines roar, and tyres make love to the tarmac as you caress it at staggering speeds. Away from the thinly disguised sexual innuendo, there's one thing that really you need to know: these machines are fast – really fast.
There was much condemnation of DriveClub's decision to opt for 30 frames-per-second prior to release, but we reckon that the Runcorn-based developer's proved its critics wrong. While the game certainly would be better with a swifter refresh rate, the sense of speed in this add-on borders on overbearing – it rivals racers like WipEout at its most intense. And that sense of speed can be frightening, as you chop a hairpin bend on the gloomy Scottish highlands with rain lashing your helmet and lightning lapping the not-so distant skyline.
It's these almost random variations in precipitation, cloud cover, and lighting that have helped give the game its longevity; there are 78 tracks in total, but climate changes bolster that number by giving you an almost infinite number of challenges to contend with. These can be minor – like a tiny crack in cloud cover – but when you're moving at over 150mph, a single stray sunray can be the difference between a clean lap and crashing into a wall. Sure, it can be frustrating when you come up against the unexpected – but it forces you to learn the tracks that you're trying to conquer.
That's not to say that the release is impenetrable. There's a full Tour campaign here which takes you through the various locales from the main game, and it gently eases you in with the "slower" bikes to begin with. The handling model, as with the cars, sits somewhere between arcade and simulation, requiring much more finesse than a Super Hang-On but never going too far like a Tourist Trophy. The bikes are twitchy but responsive, and you can really feel the power of the machines when you accelerate down straights or pull out of a tight corner.
The one disappointment is that there are no crash animations, which seems to have influenced the way that the vehicles control; turning a little too sharply into a slippy bend at high speed should, in theory, force the wheels to give way, but Evolution Studios seems to have really increased the traction to prevent it from having to contend with such situations. In fact, it's quite hard to crash in general: bumping into a wall will slow you down but will generally keep you upright – and when you do fall off, you'll be restarted without witnessing any of the drama of your collision.
To be fair, though, this is DriveClub not CrashClub, and the game's built around mastering the intricacies of each event rather than playing bumper bikes. Much of the content is the same – you'll engage in races or time trials with three tier objectives – but a new game type sees you performing wheelies, stoppies, and all of that good stuff in order to accrue points. It's also worth mentioning the sprints, which take teensy portions of track and tempt you to master them – a great fit for the title's lightning fast load times and social features.
Speaking of which, all of that functionality works as intended now. Mini-objectives pop up while you're on the road, and pit you against friends or total strangers. You can also create and tackle challenges, then forward them on to your buddies to complete. Throughout all of this you'll be accruing fame points, which you'll not only use to increase your own level, but also that of your six person club. There are leaderboards integrated into practically every facet of the title, and online multiplayer is also available – though the events only appear to include team races at the moment and no time trials.
With a generous slate of content, DriveClub has managed the transition to two wheels with gusto. The game's come on leaps and bounds since its launch last year, and with the addition of bikes, there's never been a better time to give it a try. The motorcycles aren't especially realistic, but the sublime sense of speed and challenging tracks mean that there's much more depth here than your average arcade racer. For fans of the main game, this add-on is nigh on essential – and for everyone else, it deserves your attention at the very least.
can't wait to check them out
@viciousarcanum Vroom, vroom!
I loved the game but I had to delete it from my hardrive to make room for other games. Since I deleted it I keep debating if I want to upgrade my PS + version.
Great review Sammy. The bikes addition to Driveclub was a great surprise and a hoot to play.
I've been a follower of Push Square for some time and can't believe that I hadn't registered to comment before now. Just wanted to say that your reviews are well written and extremely balanced for a Sony specific site. Keep up the good work!
Great to see bikes getting some love. Tempted to pick this up at some point. I see it has a platinum trophy as well of its own, might be fun to hunt down.
but does the game still reprimand you whenever something goes a little wrong?
I shan't be buying this, however it would be nice if they added local split screen multiplayer.
@Scubafinch Thanks for reading!
@chiptoon No, they rebalanced that. You still do get collision penalties and corner cutting penalties, but they're much less frequent than they were at launch.
Great review @get2sammyb! I'm loving this addition to the main game and am finding the speed of the bikes easier to handle than with the faster cars. Not got all the way through the tour yet but am slowly working my way towards Canada. DriveClub is going to see me through till GT Sport arrives pretty nicely. It's the one game I keep coming back to. VR support would be amazing for this game.
Very tempted, already have the season pass and love the game
Isn't this a first? Cant think of any driving game that added a riding game or vice versa, absolutely brilliant idea and especially to one with weather as good as Driveclub. Will definitely be getting this at some point.
@Jambo4170 Tourist Trophy was basically a standalone expansion for Gran Turismo 4 that added bikes.
Is there any way to try this out like the ps+ version? Id like to see what the handling is like first
When I downloaded it is loved it. But haven't touched it in days now because not being given able to Lowside or highside a motorcycle is a deal breaker. The sheer fact that you can go full throttle through a hairpin is ridiculous. Even burnout bikes was better!
Back to ride for me.... those of you who disagree think like this cars on driveclub how would you feel if they removed d
All the weight transfers
"Honda way up" He he
thanks so much for your reply - you got me to go back and give it another go - and I'm loving it!
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