Review by THayes

Reviewed: 05/04/00 | Updated: 01/08/04

Despite having only four levels, Driver is a well made and lengthy game

Driver is a driving game with a difference. Instead of trying to race from start to finish like in most driving games, Driver takes an original step of actually having goals to accomplish as you drive around various cities. Driver also has a storyline to it, one that slowly evolves as you progress through the game. There are four huge cities in this game, and every single one of them has a surprising amount of detail. With most driving games, there is hardly any animation. In Driver, there is animation everywhere. Planes take off in the distance, leaves fall down from trees as you crash into them, people run out of the way as you come near them with your car, fences fly out of the way as you smash through them, and these are just some of the excellent graphical effects that are seen in Driver.

Every single city is splashed with extra details everywhere, such as boats, planes and trams. The people that walk about the city are very well drawn. You can actually see their worried faces as you drive past them. The cars are also drawn extremely well. There are many different shapes, sizes and types of cars driving around the many cities. If you crash into a car, you can actually see animated smoke rising from it. No two roads feel the same, as each road has it's own collection of shops and buildings. There are many signs on the shops and buildings, and you can even read the signs if you ride up close. There are too many graphical effects to speak of here, but it's almost unbelievable to imagine that a PlayStation can handle them. Wave effects on the water give that realistic impression of actually being there. Shadows from the various objects in the game create an even more realistic atmosphere.

Cars calmly ride around the roads, stopping at traffic lights and even indicating which direction they are going to turn the corner. The backgrounds, usually made up of nicely drawn clouds and a very brightly drawn sun, are also drawn very well, and are nice to look at. There are six camera views, which you can play at. The first view is the default view, and is viewed from slightly above and behind the car. The second view is from directly in the car, which is a more realistic view. The third and fourth views are viewed from the left and right sides of the car, which is good if you want to know what's going on to the side of you. The fifth view is with the camera looking backwards, so you can see what is behind you. And the sixth view consists of the camera being left behind so you can see your car driving off into the distance. Considering the levels are so large, with the amount of detail and special effects that are in them, the graphics in Driver are excellent.

Driver has excellent sound effects. The sounds of the cars sound very realistic, whether it's braking, accelerating, or even the sound of the horn. The crashes sound extremely painful, and there are even different types of crash sounds. Whether you're crashing through barriers, barrels, fences, tables, or even into a brick wall or a building, each of the crashes sounds different from the other. Other effects, such as the police sirens wailing as they tear down the streets after you, are also very realistic. Sometimes it can get extremely loud when there are four or five different police cars zooming after you, crashing into various other cars along the way.

There is also a fair amount of speech in the game. Some of the speech is from the police cars, shouting warnings to each other through their radios as they chase after you. Other speech is from various people who leave messages on the answering machine. All of the speech is very well spoken and understandable. Music is important in any game, and it has to be just right in order to suit the game. Thankfully, the music in Driver suits the game very well. To start off with, slow music will play as you roam around the various roads. But then when the police start chasing after you, the music will dramatically change into much faster music. This change between the music suits the game very well. Lots of sound effects and great music definitely improve the atmosphere of this game.

Driver is extremely original in terms of game play. In normal driving games, the concept is to race from the start to the finish, trying to qualify. In Driver, the concept is to race through various cities, doing jobs for various people who have left messages on your answering machine. But why does this work so well? Well, most of the jobs that these people offer you are both fun to do and well thought of. Whether it's picking someone up from a bank, getting to a boat in time, or trying to get a new car to a hideout with as little damage on it as possible. Every single one of the missions is fun and hard to do, made even more difficult by the fact that you have police chasing you up every street.

Before you can start the game, you have to complete a practice course set in a car park. After this, the game really starts, and you are free to accept any of the messages that you have on your answering machine. To start off with, you are in Miami. But as the game progresses, you will go to San Francisco, Los Angeles and to New York, with each city boasting its own special challenges for you to attempt. At the start of the game, only one person leaves a message on the answering machine. But as you complete that mission, more people get to know about you, and so the missions get progressively harder and more original as the game goes on.

Each of the missions is different, meaning that you will see a new part of the city each time you accept a new mission. If you act normal, by driving slow and stopping at red lights, then the police will leave you alone. However, as soon as you go fast, cross a red light, a crash into them at full speed, then the police will soon chase you all around the city. It's great fun to try and lose them by hiding behind trees and posts. Driver is not just about riding along flat roads. There are so many different parts of the city to go to, such as riding in car parks, doing huge jumps over bridges, or even going down secret alleys. With four huge cities, each containing hundreds of things to do and to try, Driver is one of the most fun driving games on the PlayStation.

Driver is absolutely huge. It contains four massive cities: Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York. There are many different playing modes. Undercover is the main mode of the game, where you receive messages from people on the answering machine, and then have to complete their missions in order to finish that particular part of the level. Car Chases is a mode where you can see some of the best car chases in the game, you can even save a replay from the game, and view it in Car Chases. Training mode gives you the opportunity of going to two levels where you can practice basic skills in order to get you used to the game. There are two training levels: Car Park and Desert. Cheats mode is activated once you have completed the game once, you can activate cheats such as no police, high suspension, or mini cars. Take A Ride mode allows you to get used to any of the four levels by just practicing on them.

The final mode is probably the most fun mode in the game: Driving games. In this mode, you can play any of six driving games, which includes Pursuit, Getaway, Cross Town Checkpoint, Trail Blazer, Survival and Dirt Track. Pursuit is where you try and ram a car around a city until you wreck his car. The trouble is, is that his car has excellent handling, and he seems to go a lot faster than you. Getaway, is where an extremely fast police car follows you all around the city, and you have to try your best to lose him. Cross Town Checkpoint is where you race against the clock to pick up flags placed in various parts of the cities. Trail Blazer is where you have to collect 100 flags that are placed in various parts of the cities. The problem is, is that you start with 21 seconds on the clock, and you only get a second for each flag that you collect. Survival mode is extremely fun: You start off at a point in the city with about four or five extremely fast police cars quickly driving towards you. You are timed for as long as your car lasts.

If your car wrecks, then you have lost and the timer stops. The next time you play Survival mode, you can try and last even longer against the police cars. The final mode is Dirt Track. After choosing Practice or Time Trail in the Dirt Track mode, you are given the opportunity of racing of four fun and original dirt tracks. Despite the lack of a multiplayer option and only four levels, Driver is so full of detail and fun that it will last a long time. This game is truly amazing. The graphics are extremely well drawn and detailed, with even little objects such as trees or rocks looking nice to look at as you drive by at a high speed. The sound is very well done, and sounds very realistic in places. The speech is well acted, and the music fits in very well with the game. The game play is great, with the game being extremely fun as you ride around the humongous cities. The last ability is very high, due to the fact that there are so many different and fun modes in the game. Overall, Driver is definitely the most original driving game on the PlayStation, and one of the most fun.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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