DriveClub doesn't look like it's going to be the game I had been hoping for. After all the talk of authenticity and meticulously detailed leather seats, I had been expecting Evolution's latest racer to lean more towards the likes of Gran Turismo or Forza in the simulation stakes - to offer a sense of what it's really like to sit in the driving seat of a McLaren 12C, and deliver the true exhilaration of flooring the accelerator in a Hennessey Venom GT.
Instead, though, DriveClub leans fairly heavily towards games like GRID and Need For Speed: Shift. Evolution says that the game is being designed to be picked up and played by anybody - not just those with a fetish for car seats - and it soon becomes fairly evident that DriveClub straddles into arcade racer-territory far more than previously advertised, with less demanding vehicle handling and supercars ordered by their difficulty, rather than their horsepower.
But when you consider the context of the rest of the game, it works. DriveClub is built around the concept of one-upmanship; out-racing and out-drifting your peers to propel your club to the top of the leaderboard. While each event has a basic overall objective (the E3 demo saw players competing for the fastest time over two laps at Kinloch, Scotland), DriveClub also sees players competing against other clubs for 'Fame'.
Fame is essentially DriveClub's equivalent to PGR's Kudos, and can be earned by drifting around corners, performing clean sectors and maintaining a high speed, or - alternatively - by beating rivals within dynamic mid-race challenges. Known as 'Face-Off' events, these side-challenges crop up at various points throughout the race and challenge players to beat a rival club member at mastering the racing line or beating their average speed throughout specific sections. If the demo is representative of the final game, they don't appear to be anything particularly exciting or original - similar types of challenges and social leaderboard-tracking have been present in a heap of other racers - but they help add a sense of social competition beyond simply competing for lap times.
And while it's difficult to comment on the game's performance given its state in development (Evolution claims that the build on show is only 35% complete), it's perhaps worth noting that - at the moment, at least - DriveClub doesn't look quite how it does in the trailer. The pre-alpha build on display at E3 is quite rough around the edges, running at 30FPS with fairly flat, low-res environmental textures and underwhelming lighting. Little touches like the dashboard reflecting on the windscreen are neat, but the pixelated shadows and awkward driver animations are disappointing blights on the game's otherwise impressive cockpit view. It's something that becomes especially noticeable when you wander over to the clean, fluid and considerably more polished Gran Turismo 6 demo on display behind it - a game running on seven year old hardware, lest we forget.
Nevertheless, there's plenty of time to go until DriveClub races into stores alongside PS4 this Christmas, and while it's hard to see it escaping from the shadow of Gran Turismo 6, if you're prepared for something a little less grounded in reality, DriveClub looks like it could be a great little runner.