Review by delusion16

Reviewed: 11/01/99 | Updated: 11/01/99

A serious take on the concept of Grand Theft Auto and the roots of Destruction Derby

It's been a while since Destruction Derby 2, let alone the genre of crash and bash crazy driving games. Luckily, Reflections, the original company that worked on Destruction Derby, returns as the developer of Driver.

Driver puts you behind the whell of some `70s muscle cars, working as an undercover cop and helping the baddies get around town (in order to find the crimelord of the city). Although not exactly GTA or Destruction Derby, you are actually hired as a professional driver (and at some points hitman) and not given the freedom to steal cars or total your car. Each mission has a time limit to beat, and parameters to abide by. Luckily, they're all diverse, and at some points branch so as to give some replay value.

Perhaps Driver's strongest asset is the city models. Driver might not win any medals for accuracy, but the models for Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York seem so realistic, that it actually feels and drives like the city you're in. Some interesting places are the Bay Bridge (and if you crash your car off the bridge correctly, Alcatraz!) in SF, LAX in Los Angeles, the underwater tunnel in NY, and the tight highways in Miami.

However, graphics is also where Driver is weak in. Horrible pop-ups occur frequently and major slowdowns occur when there are way too many cars on the street (an example is raining LA during rush hour). Sometimes the graphics seem grainy, but most of the time, the frame rate is pretty acceptable. There are no speedometers in the game, and some of the faster cars only seem fast in some certain situations (the frame rate is slightly faster on straightaways and clear roads).

There are also quite a few extra game modes. A Training Course, Survival, and quite a few others are included. You'll find yourself hard pressed trying to run away from the cops in Survival Mode since you can NEVER outrun them for more than five minutes without thrashing your car. Reflections' replay system is also carried over onto Driver. You can choose the camera type, angle, and cut on nearly every game mode. Nothing is more fun than catching the right angle for that great crash that sends both you and the cops two hundred feet into the air.

Controls require some time to master. In the story mode you must pass a test in a parking garage that tests your abilities. This includes 180, reverse 180, and 360 degree turns, a complete slalom between posts, a lap around the garage, and more. While it may help later in the game, this first level may become frustrating for some. Not only is the required list of skills long, but they must be done in under one minute.

Driver's sound is not too bad but is never really breathtaking. By the end of the game, you'll probably have memorized the exact tone and pitch of the tire squeals your cars make.

Although the gameplay is qutie repetitive, it's never tiresome. Once done with the story mode, the game unlocks a number of cheats that remove some of the annoying aspects of the game (cop chases and the damage meter away!). Finding the most destructive and spectacular replay in Survival mode will also keep your thumbs sore for a while. While not perfect, Driver delivers enough fun for the GTA or DD enthusiast.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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