Driver: San Francisco Multiplayer Preview

By Darryl Kaye on July 24, 2011, 2:53PM EDT

Last time we checked out Driver: San Francisco, the multiplayer component was still quite mysterious. We knew one existed and roughly what it would entail, but that's about it. Instead, when we last saw the game, we were able to sample how the Shifting mechanic works in relation to the single-player experience. But that's all changed now, following a second play-session with Ubisoft Reflections' latest installment into the Driver franchise.

The mode on show was called Tag and after taking it for a whirl, it's safe to say that it's one hell of a joy ride.

The basic concept is that one driver is "tagged" and the others have to try and ram them in order to become tagged themselves. While "tagged", you accumulate points, and once you've got to a specified number, you're the winner. Simple, right? Wrong.

This is where the Shifting mechanic really shines. And if you aren't familiar with what this entails, here's a brief rundown. Due to the story in the single-player campaign, where the protagonist is in a coma, you're able to jump from your current car, to theoretically any car in the city. In the Tag mode, this means you can reek havoc at the touch of a button.

Now, if you've been tagged, you won't want to be Shifting, but if you're in pursuit it's a whole different game. Let's say the person you're chasing has a faster car than you. Unless you're a superior driver, you have no chance of catching up to them. In Driver: San Francisco though, you can Shift to another car that's either faster, or in a tactically beneficial position.

What this means, is that you can take over cars that are just in front - used to either suddenly ram them, or cause a head-on collision. Or, you can try to predict where they will head and take over a car with the objective of colliding at an intersection. The possibilities are endless. And when you have up to five people thinking about this all at the same time, it's manic - both from the perspective of the person trying to escape, and those trying to hunt them down.

It's difficult to explain how much fun you can have with this mode without actually having it in your own hands, but trust me when I say that even the more reserved people were getting heavily invested while playing. There comes a sense of satisfaction when you're able to shake off your pursuers, but you know it's only for a brief period of time. And you know that if you make one simple mistake, all of your pursuers will be on you in a flash.

Needles to say, it's not a mode for the feint of heart.

Driver: San Francisco is out at the beginning of September on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC. And if the other modes are anything like Tag, it could be one of the stand-out titles in what looks like a stellar end of the year for gaming in general.

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