Driver – Second Opinion

I wasn't yearning for this game as much as Chi but I was looking forward to it for about a year. I first saw it previewed in an article in Next Generation Magazine and it caught my interest. Reflections was one of the first developers to use Sony's "Performance Analyzer," a device that helped developers make use of the PlayStation's processing power at all times to maximize graphics and mathematic computations. With an unparalleled quality of graphics and realism, Driver was supposed to be a marquee release for the PlayStation and extend its life into the next millenium. Unfortunately, Driver fails miserably short of expectations. The graphics are pixelated and everything in the game is a low-resolution mess. In this regard it's a total disappointment from such an accomplished developer.

I guess Driver's fault is that it's just a tease. It raised my hopes and never delivered. A good example is the game's opening. As bad as the FMV sequences were (and they were truly awful) Driver did deliver early on. It's during the intro that we see Tanner (at least I think it's him) silently breaking into a car in a dark, empty parking garage. And just as he slowly drivers away, a patrol car spots him and Tanner takes off with the cops in hot pursuit. It's a great chase as Tanner quickly maneuvers around sharp turns and around moving cars within the maze-like garage. Finally he catapults out the entrance just ahead of an oncoming vehicle that totals the patrol car that was following close behind. Understandably, after this I was eager to play and further experience that kind of thrill, but there was never a sense that any of the parts of this game was ever conceived to go together.

Want proof? Let's look at some of Driver's options. One of them, the replay system, lets me control all the camera angles like a movie director. It was a breeze to set up camera angles anywhere along the path of the car and capture the most dramatic or action-oriented shots that would have made William Friedkin proud. The problem was that it was never any fun to actually drive the car to begin with so I got little joy getting into the replay mode. Once I got there, I wasn't too keen on watching this game in action again. Other modes (called driving games) like Pursuit, Getaway, Cross-town Checkpoint, Trail Blazer, Survival, and Dirt Track would be welcome additions to any racing game. Here, they are no more fun to play than the actual game itself. All that was left was an incomplete game that lacks in too many areas to escape my wrath. Chi and I watched Blues Brothers and French Connection again to get into a better frame of mind when playing this game (we were hoping to recreate our favorite car chase scenes from these movies while playing). But once behind the wheel of Driver, it's turns out it would be better to just pick up the movies and leave Driver on the shelf. Rating: 5.0 out of 10