It is easy to pick out the things that DRIVECLUB is not; it isn't open world, it lacks tuning, it is Euro-centric. Sure these items would've been a great addition to the title, but I think it is better to point out what the title is; a bastard child of MotorStorm and Project Gotham Racing.
It has now become the norm to include the aforementioned items to make a "complete" racing experience, and in a lot of cases is true. DRIVECLUB released at a very odd time for a racing game; especially on the cusp of The Crew and Project: CARS releasing within the next two months, but it offers something that some racing fans from the 90's will enjoy. I have currently played about five to six hours since the Tuesday release, and while I have been juggling between this and Destiny, I have to say that it deserves the 7 it has been widely receiving. It isn't ground breaking as far as gameplay mechanics go, and the current server fiasco is definitely hindering the performance, but it has the possibility to shine once they get everything up and running. The ability to make an online club, customize your battle colors for your cars, and compete against rival clubs could prove to be a great cooperative race.
One question I have been hearing/reading a lot lately is what is DRIVECLUB, and more specifically, what does it compare to? I originally would reply with "Need for Speed before underground mixed with a bit of Evolution flair" because, in all honesty, that is a pretty spot on description of the game. Last night though, when I was completing my first series race for the Rookie Trophy cup, it dawned on me; P.G.R. The point system, the drifting/drafting bonus, the lack of real tuning, all comes back to Project Gotham... but in the mountains and desert.
In case some of you don't remember, Project Gotham (which is the spawn of Metropolis Street Racing from Dreamcast) was one of the few exclusive racing titles on the Original Xbox, and was the second best selling launch title at its release. These titles, while having sim-ish controls, was aimed more towards an arcade points system called "Kudos", and would help move you to the next race. The series ended after the release of its 4th entry in 2007, and Bizarre went to release Blur (which was an odd mix of Mario Kart and Midnight Club in my opinion). While it didn't tout the most realistic physics, or the ability to openly cruise the open roads, P.G.R. did bring us a few great things, including the Geometry Wars arcade.
And just like I stated before, it has that touch of Evolution in it. The scenery is beautifully rendered, and the back drops give it a vast world for you to enjoy while you are not being hounded by fellow players. While it shares the same awe with MotorStorm, Evolution dropped the eccentric settings for ones that are more realistic. They replaced the over the top plateaus of Monument Valley for the dusty dunes of Dubai, and exchanged the lush forest from Pacific Rift for the rolling jungles in Chile. While we still do not have weather effects at the moment, it will definitely add some challenge to the more winding tracks.
While DRIVECLUB is lacking in the current state it is in, I highly suggest picking it up if you miss the days when racing games were just about, well, racing. It isn't the next Gran Turismo or Forza, and it won't blow The Crew's open ended setting away (but possibly the gameplay), it is still a fun racer. I know I will hold onto it and eventually build up my club to take on those online, and keep it around even after purchasing Project: CARS this November. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to practice drifting in my Audi RS5...