Your palms sweat as you grip the wheel. In 2 seconds three guys are going to pile into your car with sacks full of money that they have just stole from the Miami Bank. It is up to you to get them safely to their hideout. One wrong move and the car will be totaled and you and your buds will be hauled off in either handcuffs or bodybags. They jump in, your foot slams on the gas, the tires screech, and you are off.
This is the premise behind Driver, a new game from GT Interactive and Reflections Interactive. Reflections are the people who made Destruction Derby 1 and 2 so they know what car games are supposed to play like. And let me tell you, this game delivers. Call it a good cross between Need for Speed: High Stakes and Grand Theft Auto. It has all of the good arcade like car physics of NFS with the "Oh, boy! I'm a criminal!" aspect of GTA. In actuality you are really an underCover cop working with the crooks, but none of the cops chasing you seem to know that or care. In fact, after the intro movie subsequent FMV there is really no allusion to you being on the good side of the law.
The game starts with you in a parking garage, a perfect spot for you to prove your skills. These criminals will not just hire anybody and they put you through a grueling test that you must pass in order to proceed. This part is very difficult and a little annoying but once you pass it you are in the clear with some newfound skills. 1st Stop, Miami. Here is where your adventure begins. This city, like the three others (New York, San Francisco, and LA), is modeled like the real thing down to the specific buildings on the streets. It is so accurate that one of the creators showed everyone at E3 the apartment in which he used to live. It is in these hard streets that you will drive recklessly, smash through barrels, make helpless pedestrians jump out of your way (you cannot hit them no matter how hard you try) and out run cops all in the name of good police business.
If you don't like all of that structured story line or you can't seem to make it past a certain part, don't fret. There are many other driving mini-games that come on the CD. You can be the pursuer or the chased in a race around the city. There is also a checkpoint race, and a game that forces you to run an obstacle course picking up a bunch of flags. You can also take a leisurely drive around the city without a mission provided that you do not run into any cops. Then you will be in a chase for your life. While all of these options are not nearly as fun or as interesting as the actual story-driven game, they do add a nice variation.
As if all of this was not enough, the creators of the game went a step further and added a director mode. "What is a director mode?" you ask. Well, after finishing every mission you have the option of re-recording it controlling the camera angles in an easy-to-use interface. You can zoom around, out the camera in the seat of your car or the car chasing you. This option enables you to create some amazing chase scenes reminiscent of your favorite 70's cop show.
And as you careen down Broadway with three cops on your tail and a whole load of stolen property in the back seat, wipe the sweat off of your forehead and remember that it is just a game, and hopefully the color will return to your knuckles.
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