Review by INoble

"Road Rage!"

Introduction.

Never has the phrase 'stuck in traffic' held so much meaning for me. I spent most of this game in a state of tooth gnashing rage as I tried to accomplish the various missions in the face of endless (and in my humble opinion unfair) obstacles.

This is number 4 in the Driver series and I had high hopes that it would recover from the disaster that was number 3. Unfortunately this was not the case.

Naturally players will compare this to Grand Theft Auto (and find it wanting) but even in comparison to all the other drive/shoot/commit felonies titles out there it falls short.

Story.

The story is standard fare for this type of game. Back in the 1960's a young driver (known a The Kid or TK for short) begins to work his way up the criminal ladder. Just as he is beginning to go places he is made to take the fall by his supposed partners and ends up in jail for 20 years.

Cut to the present day and an older and embittered TK is released and goes about exacting revenge.

Gameplay

The game takes place in a realistic (well I assume it is realistic as I live the UK) model of New York.
Now I am sure the game also gives a realistic picture of traffic conditions in the big apple - basically gridlock! Any attempt to drive at the speeds required to complete the missions results in an endless series of head-on collisions which do nothing for the TK's health or the condition of his vehicle.

Taking to the sidewalk just gives a whole new set of obstacles in the form of pedestrians and lampstands.

Taking a shortcut through an alley has you bouncing off dumpsters.

Try to sneak down the side of a traffic queue and you start hitting the cars parked at the kerb at regular intervals.

Also this is the BIG apple, so getting anywhere to start a mission takes a long time. This gives TK plenty of chances to run foul of the ever vigilant police. The slightest traffic infringement gets you into a full scale episode of worlds scariest police chases.

These same police are strangely absent during many of the missions when you are involved in all sorts of driving and shooting mayhem and could do with a litle law and order.

So the usual scenario for a mission is - locate distant spot on map, start to head towards spot, encounter endless streams of traffic stalled at traffic lights, jump red light, get chased and shot at by cops, escape cops in smoking car full of bullet holes, repeat.

I am not saying that the streets should be totally empty or that there should be no police presence.
However GTA managed to get the traffic and police just right, Driver fails.

The main story missions (when you get around to doing them) are pretty varied and use a variety of vehicles (including motor bikes, prison vans, trucks etc.) There is a good range of vehicles in the game (reflecting the two time periods as well.) You can customize the looks and performance of the cars in
your garages although whatever car I used always seemed to end up as a smoking wreck which had to be repaired at considerable cost.

To get money to pay for repairs, ammo and car improvements you can do side missions such as hitman, steal to order, loan shark etc. These are graded easy, medium and hard with consequent rewards. Usually some violence and fast driving is involved. The most fun way of earning money is to destroy a donut stand and get the cops really angry before making your escape!

You can also compete in street races and circuit races at various difficulty levels to earn more cash.
Just don't expect your opponents to drive fair!

You gain access to a wide range of weapons during the course of the game. Completing more missions increases the power of the weapons so you end up using things like rocket launchers and assault rifles.
You can use this arsenal on foot or shooting from your car (providing you can keep an eye on the traffic, the map and your target at the same time.)

The controls are complex and I had a hard job mastering all the button
combinations for actions whilst driving/walking/shooting etc.

Graphics/Sound.

The cut scenes are excellent using the same techniques as NFSU. In game graphics are OK and don't suffer from pop-up or slow down.

The language is strong (hence the 18 certificate) but the voice acting is good.

There is a sound track of 'driving' pop music which I turned off very quickly.

Play Time/Replayability

It should not take much longer than a typical rental period to complete the main missions. If you want to try to do all the side missions and races it will take longer. For my own part I just wanted to get the game over with as quickly as possible.

Final Recommendation

This is just another is a long stream of forgettable titles with a guy and a gun and a car. It has nothing new to offer and I can't recommend it as an enjoyable gaming experience.


Reviewer's Score: 5/10 | Originally Posted: 06/20/06


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