Whilst there is absolutely no story involved in this racing simulator/arcade mix, I will take the opportunity to explain a little bit about this expansion and its back-story. The initial Driveclub released roughly 12 months ago facing a rocky start, exclusively featuring cars that you unlocked once you joined a club to earn fame as a form of experience to rank up your personal standing and your clubs.
Driveclub Bikes is available as either an expansion if you bought the original Driveclub or can be purchased individually for that fraction extra.This games strong suit is its presentation. Every intricate detail of the track glistens as the sun strikes the bikes panels, the dew from that morning gives a vast reflection of the world it mirrors, the rain hitting your windscreen falls and runs in the appropriate direction as you lean in and out of your corners. Even every chain and gear movement can be seen as you accelerate faster and faster. This game just looks good. I am not a car/bike buff never will be but even I can appreciate every detail that this game throws at you from inside the track.Weather patterns look amazing and force you to adjust your gameplay accordingly. The daylight system is the same; just like in real life driving into the sun is never ever fun. Only here there is no sun visor or sunglasses to take advantage of. The only plus side of not being able to see the road is that when you eventually collide into a barricade you can see the real damage of your vehicle accumulate.Although I mentioned everything on the track looked good. There is a wealth of things to be seen off the track. You drive around vast lakes with waves crashing, snow covered mountaintops with blizzards blowing and dry hot landscapes. The landscapes are amazing and there a few things to be seen on the side such as people, flags or what have you but when you are boosting past these things at 250KM/H it doesn’t really matter. You are just focusing on the road.I did find though that there was next to no decent soundtrack during my time with the game. Yes, the volumes were up but there was nothing that even got my head bobbing or foot tapping. Some people just like the roar of the engines but I don’t. There is always room for improvement though I guess. I feel like I should make a special mention of the lighting strikes when the weather decides, these strikes are everything any game has ever tried to recreate.I found this game to be ridiculously brutal on the track. Obviously flying into a barrier on your bike will cause anyone to fall off and I understand that, that’s fine. What I am not comfortable with is that even lightly breathing on a pebble on the outside as you go by is enough to knock you off. Ok it wasn’t a pebble but there were times when I was nowhere near the boundary and I got knocked off. On that note too I would like to mention that I felt the AI was incredibly dated, it kind of felt like I was racing in Mario 64 still. The AI competition would always be considerably condensed as you race never getting too far ahead but as soon as you were to over take and put in some solid distance it felt as if they all would instantly catch up and sit right on your bumper. The same can be said for if you crashed, the AI would slow down and almost wait for you. Speed up as you caught up and then hit super speed just to sit on your ass again for the remainder of the race.This is why I prefer the solo racing. It also gave me a better opportunity to tinker with the bikes in a variety of different corners, speeds and weather effects. Like any sim/arcade you need to manage your corners well with the right speeds and angles but adjusting to the weather was a great little challenge that kept me on my toes. Just like the original game you can form or join a club and rank up through completing events. During your race in game challenges appear again such as best top speed, highest average speed and follow the racing lines. All fame goes towards unlocking more rewards, bike/rider customizations and challenges.
The bikes expansion introduces a total of 12 bikes to the fray from different brands KTM, Yamaha, Kawasaki and Ducati to name a few. I sampled a good few but mostly found them to be the much the same once you adapt to the acceleration and speed differences. So really it just depends on what your favorite label is.Match making is the same as before, you can choose from laps, point to point with or without friends. It’s all up to you. The best thing hands down in terms of gameplay however is the monos or “wheelies” however you want to say it.I’m not a huge fan of the racing simulator genre, I can enjoy it for short bursts here and there no matter the game and at times I’ve felt this may be an unfair approach but for Driveclub Bikes, this approach might just be right on the money.
It has enough gameplay interests to sit down after work and fly through a few challenges or have a few quick races against your friends while you wait for dinner or you partner to get ready for dinner or whatever. But I feel it is also flawed and uninteresting enough to warrant anyone’s disinterest after a few hour long sit down sessions. With the dated AI and the rather chaotic boundary system, I could keep feeling myself getting pulled out of the experience and reminded that this is just a game. Even if the visuals are that impressive that you should think otherwise.
This game is certainly going to suit any diehard racing or bike fan but for general consumption it don’t think it will quite fit the bill.