At E3 2010, Ubisoft officially revealed Driver: San Francisco, the fifth iteration in the long running driving series. San Francisco mixes things up in the Driver series by introducing the "Shift" mechanic that allows players to seamlessly teleport into any car in the city. After playing the game, we followed up with Driver: San Francisco's Art Director, Jack Couvela, to learn more. Check out our hands-on preview for an overview of the game's mechanics.
Gaming Union: How does Tanner perceive the world after his accident? Is he in a sort of dream world?
Jack Couvela: Well, in a way. [Tanner] doesn't realize he's in a coma, to him everything is exactly the way it was except that he's got this ability, [the shift mechanic]. So, in tone it's a little bit like shows such as Lost or Heroes where it's a real world, real consequences, but there's something else going on. I don't want to give anything away, but as it unfolds Tanner will learn more about what's going on, maybe things in the coma are reflected in the real world or vise versa.
GU: When Tanner shifts into anther person's car he can view their memories and initiate a mission. Is that how all Driver's missions unfold? How does the mission structure work?
Jack: Yeah, pretty much. You come back to Tanner throughout the story, so it branches out. You can select [those memories] as missions throughout the city, but you keep coming back to Tanner. You learn more about the story by playing Tanner as these other characters, but the story is grounded by Tanner's chase with Jericho.
GU: What's the scope of the shift mechanic? When you can use it and how far can it reach?
Jack: Well, quite early on players unlock the whole city. We progress them through different sections, but within the first couple of hours you can [shift through] the entire city. From that point, you can shift right across the city, into any life, any car, doing all sorts of different things. That's the sense of freedom that you have.
GU: Shifting kind of reminded me of the agents in the Matrix.
Jack: A little bit, yes. That's the feeling you get in multiplayer, when you're driving along and all of the sudden a car becomes an enemy.
GU: On that note, what can you do after completing the story mode?
Jack: Massive multiplayer. So, there's nine modes, up to six players online, but also two player splitscreen. In addition, there's Film Director, which lets you edit your film, replay it, and upload your replays to share with your friends. There are challenges that aren't part of campaign mode, there's tons of replay value.
GU: What racing games, or games in general inspired Driver: San Francisco?
Jack: To be honest, what really inspires Driver is movies more than any other game. We feel there's no other game that recreates the feel of a classic, Hollywood car chase. It's movies like Bullet, The French Connection, Vanishing Point, and the original Gone in 60 Seconds - amazing films with real feeling physics, real cars, that's what we're trying to recreate.
GU: Thanks, Jack.
Driver: San Francisco is currently slated for a fall 2010 release in North America.