Despite the seemingly superficial nature of the plot, Driver: San Francisco does go places much deeper than an episode of Starsky & Hutch might go. Driver: San Francisco may have those elements, but it is not about them. Instead, it is an exploration of a police detective's psyche.
Driver: San Francisco is so out of the normal wheelhouse of what we consider driving games to be, I hesitate to classify it as such. It goes beyond mere genre classification and entered the realm of a true masterpiece. Do not be fooled, though, for Driver’s surface is deceiving.
Driver: San Francisco begins with a by-the-numbers cops and robbers set up. There’s a prison transfer of a dangerous convict named Charles Jericho. He escapes, takes control of the prison van, and runs the game’s protagonist, Detective John Tanner, straight into the path of an oncoming truck. You, as Tanner, are down for the count, and this is when the game really begins. The premise is that you are in a coma and the events that take place for nearly the entire game are the product of Tanner’s imagination, as his subconscious tries to make sense of the news reports he hears from a television in his hospital room. Jericho goes on a crime spree stealing tanker trucks, precious metals, and kidnapping a chemist. In an effort to satisfy his own desire for justice, Tanner inserts himself into these events as his mind tried to come to grips with his own trauma.