Written by  :  Dave Schenet (138)
Written on  :  Oct 19, 2002
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars

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A good story, and great fun, if a bit short

The Good

The best thing about this game, in my opinion, was the storyline. The characters were extremely well-developed, and the voice acting was excellent. As a driving simulator, it's not half-bad either.

The flow of the missions was very smooth. With a couple of exceptions (detailed in the next section), nothing was too challenging or frustrating, although some missions were a tad on the easy side.

As for the actual driving part, it's a blast. The physics engine has a couple of issues, but on the whole, driving a 1930's era car actually feels like.... driving a 1930's era car. They're sluggish, and handle like tugboats, but later on in the game, you can pick up some real high performance cars.

The Free Ride mode is a fun diversion, it's sortof like GTA3-Lite. You can drive people around in taxicabs and kill gangsters for money. Unfortunately, aside from driving around and exploring, that's all you can do in Free Ride, but it's fun to see how long you can last against the cops in a high-performance sportscar.

The city is also persistent - if you abandon a car on a street somewhere, and then come back hours later (at least, in Free Ride mode), your car will still be there, in the middle of the road. (In addition to about eight million other cars piled up behind it.) So, if you so desire, you can make use of some of numerous empty parking lots in the game to store cars in, when playing in Free Ride mode.

As an added bonus, once you complete the game, you unlock "Free Ride Extreme". There are a number of missions in this mode, and each one rewards you with a special, unique car. These cars can be used in the basic Free Ride mode.

The Bad

As mentioned earlier, some missions are very difficult, compared with other missions. Most noteably, "That Friggin' Race Mission". Completing this mission with keyboard controls is, at first blush, nigh-impossible, and caused no end of frustration. There is also one other mission where it's not really clear what you should be doing; I had to consult a walkthrough for this one.

While the music was well-done, it got repetative very quickly. I mean, very quickly. When toolin' around in Free Ride mode, I try to avoid Little Italy altogether, just because of its ambient music.

Do doot doot do de do...
Do doot doot do de do...
Do doot doot do de do...
Doot do doot doot do!
Do doot doot do de do...
Do doot doot do de do...

I mentioned the physics system earlier; it has one fault. At times, it's possible to knock your car on its side. No matter what you do, you'll never get it back on its wheels again. Ramming it with another car just pushes it around, instead of flipping it back over. Hope you weren't too attatched to that car...

There is one bug I've found with the AI, and it's actually almost a good thing, due to the humor it invokes. Check this out:

I got pulled over by the cops for speeding. I got out of my car, and paid the fine. The two cops went back to their policecar, and one of them got in the passenger side. The second cop opened the door, hauled the first cop out of the car, and climbed in. The first cop got back up, opened the door, hauled the second cop back out, and then SHOT HIM. The surviving cop then walked around to the driver's side, and drove off.

I'm still laughing about that one.

The only other drawback is that the actual storyline was over too quickly. I managed to complete this game in about a week, and it usually takes me forever to complete any game.

The Bottom Line

Fans of GTA3 may like this game. Even though it's not as freeform, it seems to be a lot more realistic, and the city feels a lot more "real". The excellent story more than makes up for the driving simulator's few shortcomings.