Driver Review

For PlayStation

By Contributing Writer Jimmy Payne

Rating: Good
   Driver is a good game that isn't polished enough to be great.  First of 
all, I want to make it clear that Driver is not a racing game, it's a 
driving game.  You're in a car driving at fast speeds, but your job is to 
complete your mission objectives, not race to a finish line.  
   Driver's graphics are very detailed and somewhat impressive.  The 
buildings all look different, there are tons of signs, and the addition of 
pedestrians running out of the way of your car is something that I will 
definitely miss the next time I play a driving game.  If you decide to 
really wreak some havoc, you'll be pleased to find that almost everything 
can be hit and smashed.  It feels like you are really driving around in a 
living and breathing community.  
   However, the out-of-date PlayStation hardware shows its limits and makes 
the game look ugly sometimes.  For instance, you can see brown and tan 
pixels all over the place when you're up close to a building, the people on 
the streets donít have faces, and the other cars are very boxy.  Also, the 
quality of the computer-generated sequences is terrible.  I wouldn't be 
surprised if Square employees stand around the coffee machines at work 
telling jokes about Driver's CG sequences and laughing hysterically.
   Driver is a tough game, almost too tough at times.  Children under ten 
and adults with bad reflexes will surely be dumbfounded when they find that 
there is no way in hell they can even get past the first mission.  It took 
me a while just to complete the "interview," which is easily comparable to 
Gran Turismo's license tests.  In the interview, you have to drive around a 
parking lot and, within the time limit, demonstrate that you can 
successfully pull a 360, a reverse 180, and other maneuvers that you will 
probably never use in the actual game.  After watching a demonstration 
of it being done and then re-trying it for the umpteenth time, I finally 
passed, but I couldn't help but feel that it was dumb luck.  
   One of Driver's only major flaws is its stupid Artificial Intelligence.  
The extent of the cops' AI seems to be "Ram into the player's car. Repeat."  
They will turn in any direction possible to get to you regardless of their 
surroundings, which often results in them driving straight into walls.  
They will also start to chase you under any condition.  In my very first 
mission, I decided to test the cops by driving slowly and even stopping at 
red lights, and sure enough, the first cop car I came across turned on its 
siren and rammed into me regardless.  This shatters the game's realism and 
came as a big disappointment to me.
   One thing I've got to give Driver credit for is its excellent control.  
If you lose a mission, there's no way to blame it on the unbelievably 
accurate control.  More than any other driving game I've ever played 
(including Gran Turismo), Driver lets you pull off extremely sharp turns 
while going incredibly fast, making for some pretty awesome replay 
   Another thing you've got to like about Driver is that it's just plain 
fun.  Pulling a 180 just as a cop is about to hit you and then ducking into
a hidden alley is what Driver is all about.  I donít think Iíll ever be 
able to race around an oval track again after playing some of Driver's more 
memorable and unique scenarios.  One that comes to mind is a mission where 
you must destroy five restaurants by crashing into each of them.  If it 
werenít for the detail of the pedestrians screaming and running out of the 
way while you crash though the glass and knock over a whole bunch of tables, 
it would be a pretty boring experience.  Luckily, it's fantastic.  
   Unfortunately, the game's time limits make the game a lot less fun.  If 
you donít go directly to your objective, youíre not going to beat the clock 
and youíll find yourself starting all over again.  So because of the evil 
time limits, you canít have some fun and try to lose the cops unless you're
really quick and have lots of time to spare.  Instead, you are forced to 
head directly to your objective, and if a cop sees you, all you can do is 
pray that you out-run him.  Thankfully, some missions don't have time 
limits; instead, the timer is only at the top of the screen to record how 
long it takes you to complete the mission.
   In general, the music is above average.  When a cop car starts to chase 
you, more up-beat music starts to play, which really gets you pumped up and 
ready for action.  The problem is, when the cop car loses you, the same up-
beat track is still playing when it should be cut off to calm you down 
again.  I know I'm nit-picking, but as I played the game I couldn't help 
but wonder why the developers of the game didn't fix that.
   Also, the dialogue and voice acting are terrible. Phrases like "Hey man!
You wrecked the car!" and "Hey, watch the paint!" are repeated over and 
over again during the "interview," and believe me, these are not the sort 
of things you want to be screamed at you constantly after your 16th 
attempt to pass the interview.  Driver also tries to mimic Grand Theft 
Auto's gangster mood, but it ends up seeming foolish due to the constant 
use of phrases such as "Give me the piece," "I'm gonna have to bust a cap," 
"How 'bout another drink, pussy cat?" and my personal favorite: "We got 
this real nice ride... it's SUPAFLY!"  If the developers of the game wanted 
to give Driver the gangster feeling present in Grand Theft Auto, they could
have at least thrown in some mild profanity.
   The concept behind Driver is excellent, but the game is nowhere near as 
polished as it should be.  However, this is a solid start to a series that 
we're going to see a lot of in the future, and it's one of the many games 
that will help the PlayStation go out with a bang.

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