Review by BGopher
"The long awaited sequel has arrived. Is it any good?"
: The first Driver was widely regarded as the best driving game of its time when it was released a year or so back. There were countless reasons it received such high praise. One reason was that it featured an unbelievable realistic physics engine. Your car behaved like it was a real car instead of a polygonal model in a video game. Another reason that the original Driver was praised greatly was that the cities featured in it were real cities such as New York and San Francisco. Not only that, they were accurately modeled from what they really looked like. Driver was one of the first video games to try and attempt to recreate locations in such detail. Another well-deserved reason that the original Driver soared to the top of the sales charts within one month of its release was that it contained some of the best AI in any game ever. The cops were relentless and unforgiving, setting up roadblocks on the fly. Above all this, Driver had some of the best thought out missions ever present in any game. From racing across to nab a speeding drug smuggler to the unbelievable last mission where you had to save the President of the United States, the missions were very well done. The only thing holding the game back was the drab and contrived plot that rarely made you look forward to the next story sequence.
Naturally, since the first Driver sold such big numbers a sequel was put into the works right away and was released just a few weeks ago right in the middle of the big shopping season by its new publisher Infrogrames. Why Infrogrames instead of GT Interactive? Well, Infrogrames, being the large company that it is, bought GT Interactive and along with it the rights to all of its games and properties. Well anyways, when I saw this game sitting in the case at Target I immediately got the clerk and purchased the game. Excited, I rushed home and popped it into my PSX expecting another grand experience. Did Driver 2 deliver? Well, read on to find out…
If you bought or rented this game you were more than likely disappointed with it like I am. First off, the gameplay is somehow worse than the first game. The chief problem with the gameplay is the slippery, imprecise control present. In any racing game control is a big factor and in a game like Driver 2 where you have to get to certain locations within a set amount of time or catch a speeding train bad control can ruin the game like it nearly did here. Some would argue that the control is the same as the original but it isn't. It seems to be a lot more slippery and unforgiving in the sequel. While the control when driving is pretty bad, when you are on foot, a new feature that allows for some diversity, the control manages to be worse. Your character can't seem to walk in a straight line and has the speed of an elephant. Combine those two problems and you have got really pathetic controls. Think that the controls are the only problem? Well, think again. The storyline can be a great part of a game if done right. I mean, look at Metal Gear Solid. Because of it's in depth and engaging storyline gamers the world over flocked to it and it ended up selling millions of copies. Does the storyline in Driver 2 do that? No, unfortunately it doesn't. It is basic and contrived, reminiscent of early car chase films. It just never pulled me in like Metal Gear's storyline did. Another problem related to gameplay was the insane difficulty of this game. It gets really frustrating when you can see the target location in sight and the unbelievably smart cops set up a roadblock that totals your car forcing you start all over again. How many times can you replay a mission before it becomes repetitive?
The first Driver had cool missions that made you feel like you were on the inside of a criminal operation. Yet again the sequel fails. While admittedly, some of the missions are very fun and innovative, the bulk of them feel like a been there done that add on mission. For example, there is a stretch of missions towards the beginning where you are asked to drive from one location to the other in a set amount of time. While the streets are different the basic structure remains the same for five straight missions. How boring is that? A related problem is the fact that one mission may have you tailing someone and the next might have you do something totally unrelated. That just does not make any sense. In the first game cars would always seem to cut in front of you at the most inopportune times. This is again present in the sequel. If a car does happen to cut in front of you while you are chasing someone you have no chance of completing the mission on that try forcing a retry. Another annoying quirk I found in the game is that when you exit a car and go on foot your felony meter will instantly go down to nothing. Even stranger is the fact that when you steal another car or get back into your original car your felony meter doesn't go back up again. If this was true in real life you have to wonder how many criminals would be out on the streets. (That aren't already after the jailbreak in Texas) A feature that should have been implemented is the opportunity to exit your car while being chased. It would be so cool to have a chase on foot with the cops but it just isn't possible in this game.
The first Driver had great physics that were the best part of the experience in my opinion and it is unfortunate that the sequel has such poor physics. For example, if you hit a small bump or go from a paved road to a dirt road your car will start spinning out wildly and sometimes even flip over instantly ending the mission. Another poor facet of Driver 2 is the dull multiplayer. You are forced to play in first person mode and you play a game of capture the flag with one other friend. The problems with this mode are the hard to follow map and the crappy viewpoint. The map always seems to mislead you; instead of guiding you to the location of the flag it sends you to a dead end. The viewpoint is bad because everything goes by in a flash making it hard to make turns and head in the right direction. Also worth mentioning are the tremendously long load times. They sometimes take up to ten seconds.
A good addition to the game was the curved road structure. It helps spruce up an otherwise relatively bland game. A second good feature is that the cities have tons of places to explore while you're taking a drive. You will continuously find new locations in the cities as you explore. Overall though this game is an obvious rush job trying to capitalize on the Christmas shopping season.
The graphics in this driving game are like a wolf in sheep's clothing: Too large for their own good. First off, this game has immense slowdown if more than two cars are present on the screen at once. The slowdown is so bad that sometimes the game freezes for a second to load. Let me tell you that the freezing seriously affects the flow of the game. Another problem is the fact that the cities pop up in front of you like magic. For example, you might be driving along thinking that the road continues the direction you're going but suddenly, a dead end pops in front of you and not having enough time to react, you go crashing into it causing major damage to your vehicle in the process. Another problem is the fact on some occasions your car will go right thorough objects. This quirk is how I completed some missions like the one where you have to escape a compound. I saw trucks that were supposed to be blocking a exit and crashed into them, flipped over and miraculously ended up on the other side. In cases like that, the graphics inhibit gameplay. Because of the quirk I was able to pass the mission in under one minute when it would have probably taken me at least ten minutes had I not gone through the trucks. The animation is also very bad. Tanner on foot walks like he is dazed and confused.
There are some good things about the graphics believe it or not. The cars have a very clean and sharp look to them with unmatched detail for a PlayStation game. The cars also show damage much better than the last game. Also, the cut scenes have greatly improved and are almost up to Squaresoft standards.
The sound present in this game is very much below average. The music is very cheesy, sounding like a Hawaiian dance mix. Not only that, it is very repetitive because all the songs sound alike. The sound effects are just average. The engine sounds are realistic enough and the other environmental effects are okay. The voicework is just average also. The characters are too dramatic and overbearing for my tastes. Unbelievably, the sound fares better than any other department as far as Driver 2 is concerned.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 01/11/01, Updated 01/11/01
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