Driver stars Tanner, a cop who is going undercover to because of his impressive driving skills. He must gain the trust of the mafia bosses by dealing with increasingly difficult missions ranging from bank jobs to car smash & grabs & everything in between. The game is set across 4 cities (Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco & New York City) which are all open to exploration but don’t bear any real resemblance to the real cities.
I was initially disappointed when Driver was first released as I had hoped for a 3D Grand Theft Auto & the lack of being able to exit your car & get into another was major issue for me. Once I did play it though I found myself enjoying it.
The game looks as good as you would expect from a PS1 game. The cars look great & impact damage shows bits of metal & paint flying off. The cars will show visible damage once impact as been made & the higher the damage meter is the more wrecked your car will look. Perhaps more time could have been taken with backgrounds as once you are up close to shop fronts & buildings it turns into a blurry mess.
Each mission sees you starting in a car expected to drive somewhere to either progress a mission or end one. Along the way obstacles will have to be avoided or overcome such as traffic, police or rival gangs. Your car has a damage meter & once that is full the mission is failed. Driving carefully will keep it down but as most of your jobs are the criminal kind you will attract attention from the police. The 2nd meter on the screen shows the police interest in you, the higher it is the more attention they will show you.
Keeping the police meter low is very important if you are to complete missions successfully. The police will try to ram you off the road which just increases your damage meter resulting in failed missions. As well as the challenge of keeping the meters low most missions have a timer that you need to finish within & some of them are very tight.
The cities are pretty large considering & the difference between each is impressive. Driving down San Francisco’s hills or through LA’s grim nights means areas never really get the chance to become stale.
I like that they tried new things with Driver such as the way in which you select a mission. After each job you will be back in an apartment where you can look around at pre-determined objects that allow you to go to the options menu, main menu etc. One of the objects is an answering machine where you can play messages that offer you jobs. Sometimes there are as many as 3 available so there is plenty of replay-ability.
The biggest problem the game suffers from is that after a while too many missions are repeated. Picking someone up & driving them somewhere else or having to get to a pre-determined point really doesn’t have that much variation in the end. I think this could have been helped had there been more variation in the cars you drive as in the end there are but a handful & they all handle pretty much the same.
The campaign is lengthy & there are number of added on features to keep you coming back for more. Such as the film director mode where a mission or run can be replayed with cameras chosen by the player. This gives a great opportunity to create some film like replays especially if you do it in my favourite additional mode, Survival that sees the cops doing everything they can to destroy your car.
Other modes include Pursuit, Getaway, Cross Town Checkpoint, Trail Blazer & Dirt Track. The aim is simple, set the highest score you can. Ultimately a game such as this is about driving & should you just want to explore the cities you have unlocked then that option is available as well.
Plenty to keep you coming back…
Lastly the music is excellent & fits perfectly. It seems to be taken straight from the era the game is set & when in a high speed getaway or chase it gets the adrenaline pumping.
Driver is a solid title that has a lot going for it. The story while simple will have you wanting to see what comes next. With plenty of missions & driving games there is a lot of content. The games is mostly let down by the repetitive nature of the main game & the lack of more varied cars. I can’t help but think they held a lot back for the much improved sequel.
The Final Score - 7/10
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