GT Interactive


Driver Review

By: John Doe

If you have any doubts about the popularity of this game just ask me why the review is so late. I couldn't get my hands on a copy anywhere until two days ago. No kidding. The first copy GT Interactive sent out went missing in action. When I tied renting a copy they laughed at me. I couldn't even buy a copy, unless I wanted to back order. When I finally did finagle a rented version, it was so badly damaged that it couldn't play past the ninth level and the audio skipped. Finally GT received more product and that great PR guy Lance at GT Interactive sent me a copy of my very own. Sniffle... So does anyone want to argue about the popularity of this game with me? I didn't think so. Let's begin, shall we?


Now that I've spent some major time with this puppy over the last couple of days I can tell you something you probably already know; Driver is a helluva great game. Sure it has its problem: tough missions, glitches and slowdown, but when the rest of the game shines like a diamond, you can't help but overlook the minuses. Almost every aspect of this game is a winner.

Driver has many games for you to try your hand at. The Undercover mode which is the meat of the game with 44 missions, puts you into the roll of Tanner, an undercover cop looking to infiltrate the seedy underworld in 4 separate cities. Then there is Pursuit mode (a high speed game of tag and the bad guy is always "it"), Getaway mode (Lose the cops and fast!), Cross Town Checkpoint (race through the city of your choice while trying to locate the various checkpoints), Trail Blazer (Hit the markers while you drive and you had better be quick about it), Survival (Kind of like vehicular suicide by cops, and these cops are psycho! Sheesh! What did your character do, eat the last donut in town? Whatever the reason, the boys in blue are reeeeeaallllllly pissed at you) and finally Dirt Track (Follow the cones through the desert, and beat the Glass car which is a ghost car representative of your best time through).

Before starting the Undercover mode, you'll have to prove you've got the driving skills necessary. Take a test in an underground parkade. If you pass, you get the job and start your term in the underbelly of society.. I have to say, I found the test tough at first. It was just a matter of getting used to the loosey-goosey steering controls. That stemmed from me spending too much time with Ridge Racer 4 which has a tighter feel to it. Excuses excuses.

Once you past the test, you'll go on to the first mission, which is entitled The Bank Job. Simply put, you're the getaway driver. The cops will be watching for you which won't make this any easier. The missions range in difficulty, but with practice and sheer determination you will eventually pass even the seemingly impossible ones. The 44 missions take place over 4 cities; Miami, San Francisco, LA and New York. If you are from any of these places then you'll be impressed. These cities are pretty much block by block reproductions of the real deal. GT Interactive points out in their press release that there are over 30 miles of road and an average of 150, 000 buildings in each city! For fun I counted as many buildings as I could in New York and I got up to 135, 856 but I had to stop when both of my eyes fell out. So please excuse any spelling mistakes because my seeing eye dog is typing this review. I hope he doesn't mess around and add in his own opinions. Bark Bark Bark Bark Woof. Bad dog! Ignore him folks, he's just jaded.

If driving around town doesn't impress you, then maybe a fully functioning traffic light system will. What an odd concept. Waiting at a virtual light. And yet, humans are so stupid that at a real light we can hardly keep ourselves from driving through it, but in this game we'll wait for the light to turn green because it's a cool thing to do. Go figure. I will admit I found it intriguing, but if you are waiting at a virtual light and using your virtual turn signal, then you are mentally ill and should be given the virtual finger.

Reflections, the development team who were responsible for the big PSX hits, Destruction Derby 1 & 2, have done a tremendous job when it comes to the real time damage inflicted on the cars. Hoods bend, hubcaps fly, motors burn and doors dent. It's a lot like when my wife drives. This is John Doe's wife Jane, and I'm telling you he's full of crap. I'm the superior driver in the house, and well I'm at it, I'm the better gamer too. - Jane Never trust anybody who writes in italics folks. They're shifty.

Graphically Driver looks very good, and maintains a decent framerate until you get a few cops on your tail. Then things start to slow down. It doesn't really detract that much from the game, but can yank away that feeling of speed pretty fast. The real time damage to the vehicles looks realistic and you'll know when the end of the line is near.

Musically Driver is sheer delight. A funky 70's soundtrack is just what the doctor ordered. When you are smashing through those boxes left mysteriously in the alleyway, right in the middle of the road, you need a horn section. So sayeth Quinn/Martin. The voice acting is over the top with a lot of African American and Mexican flavored actors utilized. Oh, it's no Kingpin for the PC but it will do.

Complaint Dept. Besides some brutal missions that bordered on impossible and the slow down the only major bones of contention were the frequent glitches and the map feature. Glitch-wise, a few times I ended up driving on the river, or driving on the tops of buildings and had to really try messing things up to get back. Don't get me wrong, the glitches in this game get your attention and are kinda cool. Try to find some. The map feature was frustrating because it forced you to stop the game all of the time to see where your next destination was. It would have been nice to incorporate more of the city map on the main playing screen. Of course, once you know the city (or have driven in all of them in real life or in this game) you'll get around very easy.

Some of the modes like Pursuit, Getaway or the insane Survival are just as much fun as the main game and you'll find yourself going for repeat attempts at them. Hey why not? They are the perfect release when you are stuck on a particular tough mission assignment. And if you want to familiarize yourself with the cities, simply play the Take A Ride game, choose your locale and learn the streets. The more cities you unlock in the Undercover mode, the more you'll have to choose from in Take A Ride.

Last but certainly not least is the Director mode, where you can edit the replay of your finest chases. Change cameras, put cameras in cars and edit to your hearts content and then play it back for your friends. This in itself is worth the price of admission. Make sure to get a lot of gratuitous cardboard box smashing in. Those never fail to entertain.

If you're still not convinced that Driver needs to be in your collection, either you can't read English or you own a N64. It's seriously fun, has tons of gaming options and is nice and lengthy with a healthy does of challenge attached to it. Major bang for your gaming dollar. I highly recommend this innovative title, that is, if you can find a copy.






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