Serious driving games all have that moment. The moment when you spin out, or misjudge a corner. You careen into a barrier like a clumsy ice skater and your first instinct is to push the start button. Bugger it, my lap time is ruined. Might as well start again. Drive Club doesn’t want you to do that. Just keep playing, it says. Go on. Might as well. But the really cool thing about Drive Club is that it gives you half decent reason to do so.
And that reason comes in the form of unique in game challenges — try and follow this race line, or try and drift at this point in the map. On their own these are pretty rubbish reasons to keep playing, but Drive Club appeals to the competitor in you. As the challenge pops up onscreen, it displays the score of another player — it could be someone on your friends list, or someone from a rival ‘club’ — and the point is to beat that score. It’s rewarding, it’s compelling. It’s satisfying if you win, but not to disappointing if you lose. After all, the next challenge is (literally) just around the corner.
Drive Club doesn’t look great. At least, not as good as I was expecting. You might argue that Gran Turismo 6, running on last-gen hardware, looks a little better. But it was still relatively compelling because of these challenges. Racing purists may not like how it feels, they may not like the look, but they’ll like the challenge. And that might end up being more important.