Review: Driver (Playstation)

By Drew Wilson

Perhaps one of the most recognizable series ever introduced on the Playstation that involves driving is probably the game called “Driver”. We take a look at this driving action game years later and look at whether or not this game is still a great game to play.

The game was released in 1999 to the Playstation. Since then, it has had numerous spinoffs and sequels.

The premise is fairly simple. You play the character of Tanner, a police officer. You are to go undercover and infiltrate a crime syndicate by being a wheel man for them. Sometimes, you taxi someone, other times, you race through town to a meeting. Sometimes, you have to smash or chase another vehicle. One mission even forces you to catch a sky train.

The game play is varied, but typically straight forward. Perform the task and avoid getting the car damaged as well as the police. You have two meters – a felony meter (which indicates how aggressive the police will be in trying to stop you) and a damage meter. You’ll also have a map that you use to go from one point of the city to another. Typically, you’ll find yourself following a shadow to the source. You’ll have to use your best driving skills because you’ll typically find yourself weaving in and out of traffic in a multitude of conditions.

You are also given choices between missions from time to time through an answering machine. When the answering machine says you have more than one message, your figurative mission tree forks. briefly and you choose which chain of missions you’ll want to perform next (with the caveat of only knowing what the first mission entails). Some missions have multiple stages. So, if your car is heavily damaged on one stage, that damage will carry through to the next round as well and you have whatever that’s left in your damage meter to get the last stage or two completed. So, try to keep your damage meter as low as possible if you can help it even if you make it to the end.

I thought the general gameplay was really good. Weaving in and out of traffic and breaking every law in the book while getting chased by police has a certain thrill to it in a virtual setting. You’ll always get that moment where you make one bad turn and look like an idiot when you plow into something like an oncoming car or the side of a building. One particularly entertaining level was scaring the passenger in the taxi car. Pulling various manoeuvres to just scare him half to death made that level somewhat amusing to me.

This game isn’t without pitfalls though. I found that the training level at the beginning before you take on missions was a little more difficult than it needed to be. It took me several attempts before I could pass that initial level. Once I passed that level, I don’t think levels were that hard until the last city or two. In any event, it’s questionable if it should have been in the game in the first place under any mandatory capacity – let alone having it so difficult in the first place.

There were occasional glitches I found when playing the game. There were things like sliding down the street on your front bumper and other weird physics that turned up some odd moments in the game, but it didn’t detract too heavily from the game itself in my view.

There are subtle interactions with pedestrians such as them looking at your car as they walk by and them running out of the way when speeding through. I thought that this was a nice touch.

In addition, the fact that the game revolves around a large city rather than roping off a few roads for you to drive down was a great move in terms of game design. One final positive is, of course, the varied missions. It isn’t all about eluding police. Sometimes, you more or less take the roll of the police in stopping another vehicle. Sometimes, you go from point A to point B in a particular car like some sort of beater (re: Hunk o’ Junk level). You can also just do a free ride throughout the city and do whatever you like like throwing the car in reverse and travelling highway speed in the correct direction for some laughs as you pass other cars facing the correct direction.

The graphics, I found, were a major pitfall in this game. Compared to a lot of other games being released by this time, the graphics, overall, were not really up to par. There were some good effects like lights being reflected off the road, but the graphics were otherwise bare minimum in terms of pass-ability. There were good cutscenes, but those were just movie files.

The audio was a huge strong part in this game though. The music was really well done and gave you a real good feel for what the game was about. The voice acting was also very well done as well. There weren’t a whole lot in terms of sound effects, but the ones that were there were good.

Overall, if you look beyond the graphics, this is a very good game to play. There’s plenty of quality gaming hours to be had with this game, so I definitely recommend it.

Overall

Furthest point in game: Rescued the president twice (beat the game).

General gameplay: 23/25
Replay value: 9/10
Graphics: 3/10
Audio: 5/5

Overall rating: 80%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85



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