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It's hard to compare Driver to any one game - you could almost say it's a 3D Grand Theft Auto except you're never on foot. You could almost say that it's just like the driving portion of Die Hard Trilogy except the cops chase you. Perhaps the best comparison would be to say Driver is just like Destruction Derby in a city with cops, traffic, and mission-based gameplay. After all, the same company makes both games. But that wouldn't be fair either, because while Driver resembles a lot of games, it's really quite unique, and fun. You play the role of Tanner, a former racecar driver turned policeman. Thanks to your past driving experience, you are selected to go undercover as a wheelman for hire to investigate the Castaldi family, the underworld's most dangerous organization. Before you can go through the game's story mode you must complete an extreme driving test that is really hard. You are asked to complete various driving maneuvers, such as a 360, a reverse 180, a slalom course, and other advanced driving techniques that will greatly help you later in the game. Once you complete this test, you can start taking jobs. Just about all the various jobs consist of getting somewhere to pick someone or something up, or dropping someone or something off before the time limit expires. Some of the most enjoyable missions, however, are the ones in which you must ram a fleeing vehicle until it's disabled. To help you find your way through the vast cities, there is an onscreen map that shows you the location of your objective point and the streets that you can use to get there. This map is extremely helpful and makes the game more about driving and less about navigating your way through the cities - a problem that Grand Theft Auto suffered from.
In total, there are four cities to progress through. You'll start off in Miami then move on to San Francisco, Los Angeles, and finally New York. Each city has about ten missions apiece, although after the first two cities the missions become a little repetitive. The change of scenery helps keep the gameplay fresh.
When you're not in the mood for Driver's undercover story mode, the game features several other play modes to try. There is free ride mode that simply lets you go around the various cities and explore them at your own pace. You can also try any one of the driving games, which are basically generic missions like pursuit, getaway, and survival.
The major obstacles in your undercover crime escapades are the regular cops patrolling the streets. They don't know that you're an undercover cop (and even if they did, ignoring your actions would probably blow your cover), so they simply come after you when they see you rolling past. They stop you by slamming into your car until the damage meter is full, signifying the destruction of your car. They aren't all that smart and really aren't too big of a threat in small numbers. But if you get yourself backed into a corner with a few of them on you, it can be a tricky to get away.
Graphically, Driver is fair. The cars, objects, and environments look a bit blocky and pixelated from a distance, but these elements sharpen in detail as you get closer. The cities themselves are quite detailed and are amazingly big - you really get a sense of being there. The gravity in the game seems a bit on the light side, making the games crashes and jumps a little more dramatic, as they were in Demolition Derby. Some people might not like the game's exaggerated physics, but I thought they made it a bit more fun. The speed of the game slows down a lot when there are several cars on the screen at once. The CG movies between some missions look rather poor and aren't all that interesting.
The music and sound effects in Driver are quite good. The '70s funk music really gives the game a gritty underworld feel that puts you in the mood for some lawbreaking action. The sound effects are all actually quite well done, which unfortunately can't be said for the voices of the characters in the game. Overall, Driver is a game that might be mediocre in its presentation but more than makes up for it in its gameplay and concept. The best thing about Driver is the feeling you get when you're speeding away from the fuzz after smashing your way through a roadblock. It's the feeling of impending doom - which can only be overcome by keeping your wits about you and your thumb on the gas - that makes playing Driver quite fun. --Ryan Mac Donald
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