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The GoodFirst of all, lemme tell you, this review might be a bit biased, simply 'cuz I'm mad about 60's - 70's american muscle cars! So, having that said I'll leave it up to you to decide if you'll get on reading, you dig?
San Fracisco, sometime in the 70's (can't remember now, it's been a loooooong time). My black '71 Plymouth GTX purrs on idle as I'm about to push the pedal to the medal and become a screaming fury out in the streets. The thug's orders on the phone just a minute ago where clear "Yo driver! I've got a little job for ya. Git yourself down and pick up our friend cause he needs a little ride". I didnt' answer, but they knew I accepted the job. After all, they were my talents that got me the inside all this. Driver. I pushed the monster out and my rear wheels started spinning and screaming, eating sunny tarmac. The driver's loose baby! Big time!
That's what I loved in the whole game! The atmosphere! Driver really puts you in the seat of an undercover police officer x-racing driver, who's mission is to witness the deeds of some mafia circuit and bring them to justice.
In the game apart from being able to drive all sorts of nice and cosy vehicles (and wreck'em to pieces) you'll get the chance to get in contact with the creme de la creme of the crime scene. What's good in that? I hear you say. Well 2 things basically, first it dresses the whole game with the crimey atmosphere veil it was mented to have and secondly if you're not American (like myself, I'm Greek) and never lived to the U.S. it's good for your English learning 'cause you can pick up some badass slang, you dig cowboy? I know there are hundreds of games that are doing that too, but as I said this is review is biased!
Ok, seriously now, Driver wouldn't be as good without the crime storyline. Also the playing worlds, which are mapped after the real cities are quite big.
On the driving aspect now, the game enables you to do a few tricks, that you wouldn't be able to in a real situation! Let's face it; How many times have you passed a police car in the middle of your town by oversteering though corners? And how many times have you passed a red traffic light, did a 360 spin in the middle of the crossroad and then driven away only driving on the wrong side going against the traffic. Well, that's an idea of what you can do in Driver, or to put it right: that's what you need to do in Driver in order to survive.
Gameplay wise, there is a strong storyline which keeps the game together. The good news is that you have many options to choose from on which mission you're going to follow. You see cowboy, if your wheels ain't good for driving me downtown, how about taking this little package to my friend? On the beggining of each drving session you're at your apartment where there's an answering machine (it's vintage style too! yes) where the creme de la creme leave messages for jobs you have to do. You don't have to drive each one of them, just one will do the job and get your status to the next level. The crimes that you'll get involved in are of various types like: your everyday bankrobbery, your everyday getaway, your everyday nasty delivery, your everyday get a girl who's just ODed to the hospital and finally your everyday presidential assasination, to name just a few. All of them requires driving your monster through the hostile city environment and get away from cops.
The vehicles handling is arcadey to say the least. Ofcourse this helps the game excitement levels and you soon forget that. After all this is not a simulation.
The chasing cops AI is relatively good. They get easily on your tail, but with a few tricks you'll be able to lose them. It's not easy, but you'll get it.
The music's cool too! Strummin boogies and funk, what else suits best your enormous collars, fly-shape shades and bad wheels?
The BadThe bad and the ugly is that the majority of vehicles you get to drive are nowhere near the famous and fabulous sportscars (or sports editions)of the era. Most of the cars at your disposal are everyday simple versions. One explanation to that could be, that a sportscar would get more easily noticed (oh yeah! as if the way you're gonna drive on this game won'get you noticed at all). If somebody could explain me though how come all of the cars you get to drive have burnout abilities (which means biiiig horsepower) and they only get to top speeds of about 110mph (i think). So forget the camaros, forget the hemicudas, the corvettes and the firebirds too... :(((((
Also could somebody explain me what is this Wrangler Jeep is doing to one of the later levels???!!! Way out of date cowboy!!! The wranglers begun to be produced in the late 80's, not the 70's. Maybe they couldn't find a photo of the Renegade Jeep, Wrangler's predecessor.
Graphics-wise, the game will never be noted for it's outstanding graphics. I dare say that it's graphics are nuff and dull and boring in the end. The cars models are nothing too spectacular, nor the world that you will encounter on your driving ventures. Detail is kept to a minimum, something that applies to models and textures too.
On the sound department, things aren't spectacular either. The engines sound all the same, the engine sound tries to immitate the sound of a real V6, comes close but fails in my opinion (needs more bass!!!). The rest of the sounds are ok, but nothing too special.
The Bottom LineLet's face it! It's the storyline and the whole concept behind it that holds the player and not the gimmicks. And that's a success for a game, i believe.
It's a big success for a game that doesn't boast superior graphics and sound. Yes, you'll be coming back for more and more, especially if you like old American cars and exciting driving.
If you don't then maybe it's the 70's concept the one that will get into you, but I'm afraid that you'll get bored with Driver quite easily, cause it's not just a 70's lifestyle game. It's lifestyle, crime and cars above all. You like all these, you're in for Driver, you don't you can still have a try cause it's addictive.