Just a bit player in the 1999's mission-based racing title Driver, the City by the Bay takes on the title role as gamers once again assume control of race car driver-turned-detective John Tanner as he continues to hunt crime boss Charles Jericho in Driver: San Francisco. However, the developers at Ubisoft Reflections have included a plot twist that throws the series on its ear: the entire game takes place in the fevered dreams of a comatose John Tanner.
The resulting freedom of movement allows for the aptly named "Shift" mechanic, which lets players exit their current vehicle, float above the scene, and switch to other cars in real time. Gamers can use this feature for any number of purposes, such as jumping from a pursuit vehicle into an oncoming car to cause a head-on collision, or making a 90-degree turn at full speed by simply shifting into a car heading in a perpendicular direction.
Driver: San Francisco makes several more departures from series tradition, beginning with the inclusion of more than 100 licensed vehicles inspired by classic Hollywood films like Bullitt and Vanishing Point. Gamers can speed around more than 200 miles of Bay-area streets in Alfa Romeos, Aston Martins, and even DeLoreans, but they can't get out of the car and run along the road, as was the case in some previous entries in the series.
And for the first time in a Driver game, players can head online for nine different modes of multiplayer competition. Driver: San Francisco also supports local split-screen multiplayer action, and the "Movie Maker" mode returns, allowing gamers to record car chases with Hollywood-style visual effects, and then upload them online.