Shifting is the main ability in Driver: San Francisco. It allows John Tanner to possess the driver of a vehicle, taking control of said vehicle. With this ability, Tanner can switch to any vehicle on the road, at any time.
After Tanner has learned the ability to shift, he can now shift to any car he can choose.
To enter Shift, players need to press a button in order to access the menu. They can view missions, dares, and garages around San Francisco.
As the player progresses through the story and more areas become unlocked, shifting levels up, adding more view to San Francisco.
- Level 2 - Complete the Prologue of the story.
- Level 3 - Complete the mission Eyes on the City.
- Level 4 - Complete the mission Collateral Damage.
Another variation of Shift, Rapid Shift, allows players to shift back and forth to another car marked. For example, if there are two cars chasing a felon, players can press a button to rapidly shift into the other one. It can also be used to cancel out Shift had the player not selected a car to shift into already.
In the final mission, Deja Vu, Tanner and Jericho change their shifting abilities, from swapping cars to throwing them to each other.
In local split-screen multiplayer, shift functions the same as its single player counterpart. In online multiplayer modes, Shift has extra exclusive abilities in addition to the normal single player abilities.
The multiplayer exclusive abilities are as follows:
- Swap: Change the vehicle you used shift on into any vehicle almost instantly
- Spawn: Spawn any owned vehicles from your garage on the spot
- Impulse Attack: Disrupt other players' vehicles, causing them to spin out of control
After Tanner's car was wrecked by a truck that led him into a coma, he discovers the ability to shift to other people, retaining the persona and the mind. He first shifts into an ambulance, unintentionally, then to his car again. He would then shift into various civilian cars, eventually getting the hang of his new ability.
After Tanner chases a Chevrolet El Camino seemingly driven by Jericho into an alleyway, he initially saw Jericho and tries to apprehend him, only for Jericho to leave the El Camino's driver's body. That was when Tanner realises that Jericho can also shift; his ability is stronger than Tanner's. He can shift into 2 or more cars to ram Tanner. In the climax, Jericho begins to throw cars at Tanner to impede with his chase, which leaves Tanner confused before he realizes he can do the same thing to Jericho.
Returning to reality, Tanner naturally loses his ability to shift into other vehicles as he was no longer dreaming.