Review by NES4EVER

Reviewed: 06/17/02 | Updated: 06/17/02

This game makes snitching on the mob fun! and you stay alive!

Wow! I’ve always wanted to be an undercover cop. Becoming the getaway driver for some of the most dangerous men in the country has always been a dream of mine. Doing high-risk jobs for pimps, drug dealers and the mafia has always appealed to me. Well… maybe not. But this game gives you the chance to do that anyway. And it’s all wrapped up in a nice little compact disk! Inside the disk unfolds the story of an epic tale of an undercover cop named Rick Tanner that becomes the getaway driver for a pimp/drug dealer in Miami. The story unfolds into a large fiasco that almost gets tanner killed numerous times. All in all, it’s a great game with a revolutionary idea. In other games you might be the cops, or maybe the bad guys, but not both at the same time!!! That’s what you’ve got to love. No matter how much outrageous stuff you do, you’re still a cop so in the end you get off the hook easily. Granted, Driver 2 had better ideas that improved the experience of the game, Driver was the first to offer a free roaming experience with an amazingly thrilling story to tag along with it. Even the story was molded by the missions you chose. I would think of it more like a tree than a story. Because there were so many different paths to chose. That story along with many side games, breath-taking graphics, great control, and ultra realistic sound really pulled this game together to create a sleeper hit. I picked it up July 3rd 1999, 2 days after it released because of the hype that magazines had created. And I watched as the word spread about Driver and its sales skyrocketed. But this game deserved all the praise it was given.

Gameplay

There is almost a library of different modes to play under. You can start off by cruising the streets of San Francisco and Miami in Free Ride. Free Ride allows you to drive through city streets with no place to go in particular, learning how to drive and honing your skills for more important events. Once you’ve gotten a firm knowledge of the streets and handling characteristics, you can take a stab at the undercover mode. Right off the bat, you are tested by having to perform a given list of driving maneuvers to show that you are worthy of becoming a getaway driver for a African-American man with a humongous afro named Rufus in the Miami area. Later in the game, you get more important bosses and they depend on you much more for important missions. As if the missions aren’t hard enough by themselves… There’s still traffic to get through, a damage meter, a felony meter, and a timer! So if you want to even think about beating a mission, you need to take agile, precautious, law-abiding measures… All while speeding! Pretty impossible sounding isn’t it? Well, if you choose to just forget about the law and speed as fast as you want, you can do that. Just don’t think the cops will agree with your decision. They will do what ever it takes to bring you down. Set up roadblocks, ram you, and give you the ol’ P.I.T. maneuver. They’re merciless, considering you are a cop yourself. But I guess gangsters would wonder why you were speeding through town and cops weren’t doing anything to stop you. Amazing that was only 2 modes of play. There are still 6 driving games! There is Pursuit, which lets you take the role of the cops in their endless fight to subdue crime. Getaway kind of reverses the roles of Pursuit and lets you take a crack at running from the law. This is a timed event. Next is cross-town checkpoint. Every checkpoint gives you 5 seconds, so you better be quick if you want to make it through all of the checkpoints. Unfortunately, cross-town checkpoint is hard as hell because of all the obstacles, you really need to strike it lucky to get anywhere in this game. Next on the long list of things is Trail Blazer. Unlike the others, the majority of adventure in this mode takes place off road. Survival is basically an extremely hard version of Getaway. One of the more memorable moments in this mode took place in San Francisco where the cops and myself caught MAJOR air and flew for about 10 seconds. It was a huge rush of adrenaline; something this game is good at doing. And last but not least, Dirt Track. Dirt Track is a timed event similar to Trail Blazer. As you can see now, the list of things to do in this game is big enough to give some people a headache. It’s amazing what they can fit onto CD’s now. Every single one of these modes is worth playing for hours and hours, which really steps up the replay value.
10/10

Graphics

Top notch to say the least. The introduction video is quite entertaining as it depicts a man stealing a muscle car from a parking lot and being chased by the cops shortly after. The chase makes its way down to the main street where you veer out from the parking garage and on to the street while the cop clips a passing car and loses control. For a first of its kind, it certainly did a free roaming entirely 3D city amazingly well. Many people may say that Grand Theft Auto 3 cities are the largest of their kind. But I’m pretty sure that the cities in Driver are MUCH bigger. The aren’t exactly full of interactive objects, but there are parts of levels where you can knock down garbage cans, fences, picnic tables and even break through glass. Other games, and even the sequel didn’t sport this kind of interactive activity. You may be permanently stuck in your car, but who needs anything else? Your car, no matter what level or mission, is amazing. For example, take the main car in San Francisco. It appears to be a mix between a late 60’s Ford Galaxy and an early 70’s Chevrolet Monte Carlo. It has decent acceleration, good braking, and even sports tail lights and reverse lights. Sure this is a pretty car, but its not like it’s really yours. So why not trash it? Well you can do that too! Ram the back a couple times and the shiny chrome bumper wont look so wonderful anymore. Drive full speed into a wall and the hood of your car will crumple exactly like a real car would. In a V shape. Get rammed a few too many times in the side? Your cars going to look like a half demolished piece of crap by now. Smoke will billow from under the hood and chances are, you wont even have hubcaps anymore. That surprising attention to detail is what made this game such eye candy. Anyone who owns a Playstation will agree that this game sports some of the best graphics seen on the aging dinosaur.
10/10

Sound

Music isn’t very prevalent in Driver, but nonetheless, the music you hear is soothing to the ears and mood setting. The main menu has quite an interesting song that has a 70’s cop show theme to it. If you choose to do undercover mode, you will be delighted by the music played before each mission. It is so unique to the 70’s and it really fits the whole theme. Although it sort of borders on porno music. While you play, you are greeted to soft music in the background. Maybe it isn’t loud enough to hear, but there are more important things to hear in this game. Like the roar of the engine. I love the way Reflections and GT Interactive created such life-like noises. From the start of the level, press circle to gun it and see what I mean! It’s just absolutely breath taking as you hear the roar of a big block American V-8 creating an enormous force that sends the back wheels squealing, desperately trying to grasp the pavement below. The realism of it all is perfect.
10/10

Control

Might be hard to begin with, but once you know the controls, you shouldn’t have a problem with them. The cars control pretty well, considering they are 300 hp muscle cars. I find that the controls have more of an arcade style way of handling than simulation. But hey, this isn’t Gran Turismo is it? Most of the time, there shouldn’t be a problem finding your way around corners and you can even use L1 to make sharper turns. If you’re trying to make haste, you can either use X and drive away like any normal person would, or you can use Circle and lay some rubber on the pavement as your roar away. It takes the same time either way, so I suggest you just use X because it’s easier to control, especially when you aren’t driving in a straight line. If you use circle while turning, you’ll just spin yourself a million times, and if you keep your finger on circle, you’ll never recover. Another outstanding category for this great game.
10/10

Difficulty--- Moderate/High

I’m pretty sure the hardest part about this game is the initiation test. I’ve played through the game a few times, and I still think that trying to do all 10 stunts in a minute is pretty much impossible. Well maybe not impossible, but it takes a great deal of skill to overcome. Once you get into the missions, they get progressively harder until finally, you throw your controller at your television and scream unspeakable words at your Playstation. But no worries, those missions don’t come until much later in the game. As for the driving games, none of them are too hard, and none of them actually reward you with anything except for bragging rights and a fun time. The hardest of the 6 would probably be survival. Most people probably wont make it 30 seconds in that game.

Replay Value

There is a lot to be done in this game. The average player will probably play through the undercover mode once or twice. Which doesn’t fair too bad considering there are A LOT of missions to be done. There are still the driving games that you can compete against your friends, trying to get the best score or time. That can take up a lot of time. You can also just drive around the city, which boosts the replay value dramatically. I can’t remember how many hours I spent just driving around the city looking for interesting things. But the cities are so big that even if you do find something worth noting, chances are you’ll never see it again or have a lot of trouble finding it. There are at least 150 hours of game time before someone would get bored.
9/10

Pros
-Huge levels
-Detailed cars
-Amazing sounds
-70’s porn music (hehehehe)

Cons
-Some of the FMV sequences look a little choppy
-Extremely challenging
-That damn initiation test

Overall

Anyone with a Playstation should own this game. There are simply not enough good things to say about it to convince people to buy it. GT Interactive isn’t well known among the video gaming world, but they certainly showed that they could compete with the rest of them. And they brought the wonderful idea of a free roaming 3D city to the gaming public which has spawned more classics like Driver 2, Grand Theft Auto 3, and Wreckless: The Yakuza missions. If you do not own this game I strongly suggest you buy it now. You should be able to find it in any store and it should only be about 10-15 dollars U.S. now, which is practically a steal when you see what you get. If you have Driver 2, pick this up and see what you missed the first time around.

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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