Driver: San Francisco and Call of Juarez: The Cartel Multiplayer Impressions

PC News Previews FPS Racing Playstation 3 Shooter Xbox 360 Ubisoft

Last night our good friends at Ubisoft invited a few of us over to check out some multilayer builds for Driver: San Francisco and Call of Juarez: The Cartel. They were offering burritos, chips and beer so we couldn’t refuse! After hanging out with our BFFs, Sam Fisher and King Kong, we stopped treating the Ubisoft office like a theme park and picked up some controllers and went head-to-head on Driver: San Francisco for the Playstation 3 and tried out the new co-opetition mode for Call of Juarez: The Cartel on Xbox 360. These are just my impressions on these multiplayer builds, you can see LinkageAx’s impressions here.

(Left to Right) Master Abbott, Matt Vella (thats me!), and LinkageAx up to our usual mischief.

Driver: San Francisco

Unfortunately I missed out on getting a hands-on preview of the single player last time we met up with Ubisoft, but from what hear, it’s pretty awesome. I can’t speak from personal experience with that section of the game, but I can say that multiplayer for Driver: San Francisco is extremely fun. Ubisoft have perfectly captured that chaos and frantic action the original game had when your trying to outrun the cops, and multiplied it by tenfold. In fact much of it feels like a throwback to the debut title. I didn’t see any guns at all and I couldn’t get out my car. Driver is Driver again, so its no longer a Shooter or a Walker, and it’s all for the better! Another new feature included that you may already know of if you’ve been following the game is the ‘Shift’ feature, which allows you to appear in place of another car, kinda like those uber cool agents in that Matrix movie. It’s a really smart idea to include, as if you completely suck and can’t catch up, you can use it to cheat your way ahead, and adds a lot to the chaos and keeps everyone in the game, ensuring everyone is always in the middle of the action and has fun.

Forget boring modes like time trials and that crap, Driver: San Francisco keeps it fresh and fun. We tried out each mode with four players.

Tag: ‘Tag’ is pretty much capture the flag but with cars, where your goal is to be ‘tagged’ for a certain amount of time while other players are trying to ram or hit them so they can steal the ‘flag’ to become the tagged player. The game concludes when a player has been tagged for a certain amount of time. This mode is insanely fun, as the tagged player can’t use the shift feature, so your trying to escape a bunch of dudes who can appear anywhere at anytime. On the other hand its fun simply trying to chase the tagged vehicle, but also a great deal of strategy is needed to predict the other players movements and decision making in order where to shift to intercept your opponent. Strategy in a driving game-I never thought I’d see that, but it works really well!

Trailblazer: In Trailblazer your competing for a high score. An AI controlled car races ahead while leaving behind a short trail of light following it. Players must compete with each other to tail the car closely, racking up points by staying in this ray of light. The car is faster than the other players, so your constantly competing with your opponents to catch up to it. It works out as your basic car chase, but with a twist. While in other modes your often chasing someone with the intention to attack them, your goal here is to simply follow them and get the other players as far away from it as possible. So you want to be closely behind the trailblazer and barging and nudging your enemies off coarse and into the oncoming traffic. Rather than shifting to a car ahead of the lead to intercept, players are encouraged to shift to a car closely behind the lead car that is going in the same direction. Its the only mode we played where all four players had the same goal, and also one of the most different, providing a nice variation in game play.

Takedown: This mode had one player as a criminal, while the other three played as cops. The bad guy got a health bar and the cops had unlimited health, and only the cops could use the shift ability. It pretty much played as a survival mode, as the robber had to survive for a particular amount of time, while the cops had to destroy the robbers’ car within the set time limit. It encouraged a lot of team work and turned out to be quite fun, especially when Ben (LinkageAX), and another player managed to pin down Phil (MasterAbbott) while I constantly reversed and sped up to ram him! This co-operative feel it had really enhanced the experience, and playing as the robber was awesome for the same reasons being tagged in tag was-it felt like the world was after you and the adrenaline rush from the escape was just awesome.

To sum up my experience with Driver: San Francisco’s multiplayer, I have to say it’s big chunks of fun! The blend of destruction-derby styled assaults and high-energy car chases have been used to achieved this, being much more interesting than a standard car race. A nice mix of both co-operative and competitive really keeps players on their toes, and the shift feature guarantees anything can happen, and anyone can win regardless of the situation. The game feels fast and the destruction feels awesome. I imagine the racing aspect of multiplayer that is yet to be revealed will be good, but won’t be as exciting, however this new shift feature may change that. While we played on LAN, I believe online will be extremely rewarding, but most importantly I hear local split-screen will be available, which is PERFECT for a game like this. The ability to tell someone to ‘suck it’ to their face only amplifies the glory, and the laughs are plenty! Driver: San Francisco comes out on September, 1st 2011 and I highly recommend you give the multiplayer a go, because its a blast to play.

Oh yeah, and we had a Driver tournament and the winner got some tequila. Who won? I honestly don’t know or care. I stopped paying attention the second I lost, and jumped onto the Xbox 360 and checked out Call of Juarez: The Cartel!

Call of Juarez: The Cartel

In Call of Juarez: The Cartel plays in a more modern setting than it’s predecessors, however that classic cowboy/western theme has still been kept for the most part, creating an interesting mix of styles that have mashed well together. The game follows a task force with their own personal demons going after a mexican drug cartel, in the typical FPS fashion, and the two levels we played involved mostly hopping into a car, driving to a location to achieve an objective, kill some drug-dealing minorities along the way, and head back into the vehicle where you then head to the next location. Its simple but fun, and was presented nicely with some sweet graphics and very impressive voice acting.

We gave the new co-opetition mode a play, which works as your typical co-operative campaign for three players, but with a competitive twist- every now-and-then somebody will randomly get a phone call with a secret mission objective, and it kept things interesting and fresh, and it worked well. Helping out your team mates had a strong impact on the gameplay, so your encouraged to work as a team, and thus teamwork feels really rewarding. For example, players can preform a ‘Team Entry‘. When approaching a closed door, two players can stand either side and one can stand in the middle, and on command all three will barge into the room full of enemies, entering concentrate mode and allowing you to kill them all in glorious slow-motion. Epic! Also reviving a fallen player has a big part of gameplay, and it is done simply and swiftly so it doesn’t feel like a hassle, so helping your fallen ally doesn’t feel like a chore which is nice.

One particular level we played was based in some kind of forest, and I must say I really enjoyed the level design. The terrain was uneven and filled with slopes, trees and rocks which provided great cover. I found it helpful in flanking targets as well which was nice. Controls will seem very familiar to most gamers, so naturally they feel comfortable. Melee attacks feel particularly rewarding. Yeah sure its the usual ‘click the analogue stick and you hit a guy’ kind of thing, but a nice stream of blood flies from your victim accompanied by some sweet sound effects which make you feel like a total bad-ass. One of the biggest highlights in my opinion was the voice acting, it really sounds like this title has a high cost production going on, and the dialogue is mostly great, especially from your Mexican gangster enemies, showing how surprisingly fun it is to be threatened in a foreign language by a dude with a gun.

We were informed that the build we were playing was actually a ‘delicate’ and ‘fragile’ one, but for the most part the game ran pretty smoothly to me. Some graphics would flicker or seem out here and there, but that stuff is to be expected in a multiplayer build for incomplete game, and I’m sure this won’t be the case in the final product. On that note, the graphics do look really pretty and the world Ubisoft have show us here is full of character, and character design looks really superb as well. One of the ‘little things’ I appreciated was the compass directing you to your locations as this little white dot showing you where to go next. I found it really helpful, especially since it was easy at times to stray off the path and away from your mission. I heard in the final product the white dot will look like something else but still maintain the same job though.

I can’t really judge the entire game based on my short experience with Call of Juarez: The Cartel, but I can say it is shaping up very nicely. I’m sure it’s design and presentation will help separate it from the rest of the cliche FPS pack, and it being accompanied with good voice acting and dialogue shows much promise for the single-player campaign. Furthermore, the idea of co-opitition is pretty cleaver and works well and is a blast to play. I look forward to seeing more of this game soon! Call of Juarez: The Cartel hits stores July 21 in all of it’s modernized western cowboy FPS glory.

I’d like to take the chance to thank Ubisoft again for inviting us for the night and giving us a hands on sneak peak of what we can expect from these titles. Both games are shaping up nicely and are both looking and feeling great! Keep an eye on our website their reviews in the near future!

Matt Vella. Capsule Computers' Community Manager. I say 'Laters' a lot.

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