‘Driveclub Bikes’ Review
Platform PlayStation 4 Genre Racing
Developer Evolution Studios Publisher Sony Computer Entertainment
Driveclub Bikes adds to the growing number of next generation motorcycle options on PlayStation 4 consoles. Driveclub Bikes is a standalone DLC expansion for Sony’s latest racing franchise, focusing on its two wheeled brethren. Though Driveclub Bikes still doesn’t create the ultimate motorcycle racing experience bike enthusiasts deserve, it provides a challenging, fun and visually beautiful option for PlayStation 4 gamers.
Driveclub Bikes main feature is its Tour Mode, this isn’t an overarching season or championship, but instead a selection of challenges segregated into six different tiers. Those looking for an extended Season Mode won’t find it here, which is a little unfortunate. There are six challenges in each tier that ultimately culminate in a mini-championship of three races, before opening up the next tier. In order to gain access to each tier players must defeat challenges and earn Gold Stars. Fortunately earning enough Gold Stars to unlock each tier is not too challenging, but if you are a player looking to earn every Gold Star available and win every mini-championship – you are in for one challenging ride.
During the latter tiers of Tour Mode the AI will ride with a viciousness that few racing games produce, aggressively slamming into your bike in order to gain positions. Thankfully the AI is as vicious with you as they are with one another, which is something I greatly appreciated. Few racing games have AI that will continue to push for victory when the player is not involved, but Driveclub Bikes has AI craving victory and their challenging nature adds a fresh element of difficulty.
Driveclub Bikes avoids showcasing actual crashes, which becomes a frustrating issue due to its inconsistent nature. Instead of showcasing the crash, if your bike becomes slightly close to the edge of the track you will experience a flash of white light and be reset on track. These “crashing” moments are completely unreliable and a small deviation from the track can easily mean your race is finished because of the untrustworthy crashing detection. These moments cost me more than a dozen races, due to the unreliable crash detections.
Aside from Tour Mode players can also experience typical racing modes such as Time Trial, Sprint and Single Race. My personal favourite mode is called Skill, which delivers bite sized sections of tracks where players must utilise wheelies, stoppies and speed in order to showcase their skill. Skill events are over fast, which allowed me to rapidly restart my attempts in order to increase my overall score – almost like a less frustrating version of Trials.
Driveclub Bikes rewards you for almost every single thing you do, whether racing on a certain track, utilising a certain manufacturer or simply racing a clean sector. This is all connected into your overall Driveclub level, which is carried over from the original Driveclub; meaning you will always be earning towards your overall level no matter which version of Driveclub you play.
There is a downside to this however – if Driveclub Bikes is your first attempt in the franchise you won’t be earning rewards you can actually use. Yes, leveling up your Driveclub profile in Driveclub Bikes doesn’t alter which vehicles you unlock, which means you will constantly unlock vehicle after vehicle that cannot be used unless you have the base game. I couldn’t help but be disappointed that after reaching Level 30 on my Driveclub profile I had compiled a huge selection of vehicles, all of which could not actually be used unless I purchased the base game. I wish Evolution Studios had found a way to equally reward those who may only have purchased Driveclub Bikes, rather than constantly being told to purchase another game in order to use the content you unlocked. The lack of alternate reward structures to Driveclub Bikes players is disappointing and instead felt like a constant carrot being dangled in front of me in order to temp me into buying another game.
In terms of bike related content, Driveclub Bikes is serious lacking. Even though it may only be a standalone DLC expansion there are only 12 different bikes on offer, with little to no customisation options – performance or visual wise. Bikes can be leveled up with constant usage, but I’ve yet to see these levels offer any performance enhancements. Even the visual customisations options of both your ride and rider are very slim, with only colours, different paint styles and very minor differences in your rider’s appearance offered. Having experienced the customisation options available in both Ride and MotoGP 15, the lack of customisation options in Driveclub Bikes is very noticeable.
Driveclub Bikes is easily one of the most beautiful racing games I have ever played. Compared to most entries in the motorcycle genre, Driveclub Bikes steps away from the typical race track location to provide unique settings with beautiful vistas. From the snowy Norway mountain tracks, the gorgeous cherry blossom filled events in Japan, and the forest-based Canadian tracks – Driveclub Bikes produces unique and impressively detailed racing locations. Races themselves also look breathtaking as the time of day and weather effects can change dynamically. Though it may be a little weird to see some races cycle through a 24 hour time span within one race, it still looks visually amazing. Driving through the quaint country side of Scotland during the pitch black of night is a sight to behold, and the beautiful weather effects further emphasise how stunning Driveclub Bikes really is. Driveclub Bikes delivers motorcycle enthusiasts the visual spectacle that they deserve, something many other entries in the genre fail to produce.
Driveclub Bikes offers two different forms of multiplayer. Firstly, the socially asynchronous multiplayer features. Driveclub Bikes provides a socially connected experience that always made me feel like I was competing against others – even when I was racing alone. Incorporating these social elements feels natural and always provided me with another challenge. Even if I was not succeeding in my current race I could always put extra effort into producing fast times in the array of social Face-Offs found in each race. These multiplayer elements succeed at providing a social experience, even for those who don’t want to competitively compete online.
The second online multiplayer option is the typical competitive selection of online racing. I found finding a race online to be an extremely extensive process, as the number of online players is terribly low. When I did find a race the connection was stable and enjoyable, but due to the length of time it takes to find a race it’s hard to recommend the competitive online experience. The lack of online players only further emphasised my love of asynchronous multiplayer options that allowed for social elements without the need of players to be online all at once.
Driveclub Bikes is a great first step into producing an excellent foray into the motorcycle genre, a genre that is unfortunately overlooked in comparison to its four wheeled siblings. Driveclub Bikes is easily the best looking entry in the genre, but as much as these visuals do astound, Driveclub Bikes does lack in overall biking options when compared to other entries in the market. Due to the standalone expansion nature of Driveclub Bikes this can be excused – as Driveclub Bikes offers a fast, gorgeous and socially superior experience while it lasts.
Hopefully Evolution Studios decides to take Driveclub Bikes for a second lap in the future, as I’d love to see what this talented studio can produce when creating a fully realised motorcycle inspired sequel.
One of the best looking racing games available.
Excellent socially connected multiplayer.
Unreliable crash detection.
Constant reminders to buy the original Driveclub.
Lacking customisation options.