Photo Mode in Driveclub
Towards the beginning of the year, I whipped out the virtual camera within the video game Grand Theft Auto 5. The results were startlingly great, considering I was taking photos inside of a world programmed entirely by game developers. A few weeks ago, I was blown away yet again with the photography mode in an otherwise mediocre racing game: Driveclub.
Don't get me wrong -- Driveclub is hands-down the more gorgeous racing game I've ever seen. The detail crammed into each car borders on the obsessive; visually, it's the most faithful recreation of driving cars you and I can only dream of owning. To this day, though, that's the only aspect that carries this game for me. The handling is too arcade-y and floaty, engine sounds are too dry and processed, the AI is aggravating, and the gameplay is relatively shallow. Quite frankly, I lost interest in this game a week after buying it a year ago, despite its incredibly-rendered cars. I suppose I just play too many racing simulators to truly enjoy what this game has to offer.
On a whim, I Google'd "Driveclub photo mode" a few weeks back. Within five minutes, I was digging through my game discs so that I could use it myself. Simply put, the photo mode in Driveclub is second-to-none. It's (almost) all here: shutter speed (mostly for blur), aperture, exposure compensation, camera modes, filters -- buried within this beautiful-but-flawed game is a genuinely rewarding photography experience. That's no hyperbole -- this tool can actually help photographers learn how to shoot cars.
Admittedly, it's not perfect, like the rest of the game. There's no true manual exposure here, so if you shoot into the sun or have a bright background, the exposure compensation dial may not be enough to drag the car into the midtones. Most of these images are actually two of the same image: one exposed for the car, another exposed for the background. I loaded the shots into Photoshop and used layer masking to simulate a graduated ND filter as best I could, rather than risk a really crappy attempt at HDR using JPEG images. A white balance tweak would have been lovely as well, since JPEG's cannot be adjusted for this and the game's guesswork is sometimes off.
It's hard to rectify my racing-sim snobbishness with this game; it's not overly fun for me to drive and there isn't much incentive in its single-player mode. Where it falls off in pure gameplay, however, it redeems itself highly in the neat images it can produce. They're exported in full 1920x1080, which makes them good candidates for computer monitor backgrounds.
This is, without a doubt, a game I'll be revisiting periodically. Shooting Mustangs and Subarus is fun, but until I can score photoshoots with Ferraris or GTR's, I definitely see myself honing my craft within this game. I'm actually sort of sorry that I forgot about it so quickly.