Driveclub is not Gran Turismo. Despite sharing a genre and PlayStation exclusivity, Driveclub always feels like a clunkier, but competent, little brother. Like other “little brothers” of this world, Driveclub looks small when trying to compete in the same auto racing arena as its bigger counterpart. However, Driveclub Bikes, Driveclub’s motorbike racing expansion, changes the franchise’s dynamic in a positive way. All of the awkward controls that plague the automobile racing in the main game are absent in Driveclub Bikes, replaced with smooth and exciting racing.
Smooth really is the most important quality you can hope for within a racing game built around motorbikes. Bikes really hits the perfect mix of keeping the game realistic while delivering the most buttery bike controls that I’ve had the pleasure to use. The key component of these great controls is in the deceleration in the corners. Motorbikes have unique physics when taking corners, and the experience in this game is the most capable so far in combining realism with gaming challenge. The attention to detail is quite surprising for an expansion like this and many subtle feelings of bike racing are present in the game right down to the slight bounce of the front wheel on a stoppie.
With the smooth driving mechanics in play, Bikes both bolsters your ability to drive your own line in a race and gives the A.I. a more competitive edge. This is a combination that makes for very enjoyable racing. You don’t seem to be able to dominate the competition without earning it, and the game makes you feel more like just another competitor, looking to rise up. Many other racing titles seem to try to always give you the edge,but Bikes takes a very different approach to this — with great success. Every race is a challenge and provides excitement, and with more tight racing, each turn and straight is vitally important to success.
The game does kind of limit you in terms of new bikes and customization, which can lead to a bit of stagnation. The game provides you with a few starter bikes and you earn more very slowly. Completing more races with a single bike can give you added experience points and help to unlock more paint jobs or vehicles. These unlocks can come very slowly for the bike side of the game, and the single bike dynamic can limit you in stagnative ways. Coupled with a complete lack of customization options outside of the paint job, the game provides nothing in terms of really getting involved with the workings and internal design of your bike.
You are require to either have the full Driveclub game or the free PlayStation Plus version. Any progress you’ve made in the game will count towards the new Bikes portion, and any experience earned while racing motorcycles counts towards progression for the entire game. This can be helpful if you’re just starting out, and even more so if you’ve played the main game for a long time.
The game is built almost identically to Driveclub, with the same game modes, race types, challenges, and race tracks. It also employs the same mini-challenges that Driveclub uses, and this is a fantastic feature for measuring your ability and giving you a smaller challenges within each race. These are speed, cornering, and style sections for the most part, where you are tasked with besting the times and scores set by players around the world.
Driveclub Bikes is a nice departure for the Driveclub franchise. This is an expansion that actually expands the game from a relatively competent title, in my opinion, to nearly a must own for racing fans. Others may feel they are adding a whipped cream dollop to their already delicious Driveclub pie. The gameplay mechanics and competitive A.I. make for the most interesting and challenging player vs. CPU racing that I’ve experienced in a long time. Driveclub Bikes is a highly recommended pickup, particularly for PlayStation Plus members.