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Driver 2

review by Angelo C.

Retail Price: $39.99

Developer: Reflections

Publisher: Infogrames


As an avid racing game fan, I've tried almost every driving game out there for PlayStation, and I've noticed a few trends here and there. First, the all out racing simulation games, such as Gran Turismo 1 and 2. Then there are the drive anywhere, cop chasing, mission-based games. The first mainstream game of this type was Driver. Since then, many developers have tried to replicate this tried and true game style, but none have even come close. Until now, that is.

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, on to the game. Driver 2 has basically the same theme as the original, but with added depth. The story line seems similar but it has a much more involving plot than the original. You become an ex-convict named Tanner, who is now an undercover cop and is out to clean up the underworld of organized crime. Along with your partner, Tobias Jones, you embark on a dangerous excursion in four different cities around the world. Tailing criminals, stealing cars, and outthinking the cops is the name of the game. When the game starts, you are greeting with a short movie and then a menu screen with four choices. "Undercover" is obviously the main part of the game, where you begin immediately on a mission, but a simple one at that. Then there's "driving games" and "test drive". Both of these require some kind of driving skills, but for beginners, "test drive" allows them to basically drive around two cities (to start out with). But of course, the ever so sneaky police are always watching you. These are all great driving adventures, but the most interesting feature is multi-player. You and a friend can take a drive or play "cops and robbers" and other similar mini games.

There is no driving test in this sequel, which is a relief. In "undercover" mode, the missions range from chasing a train to getting to an airport with at least 4 or 5 cops on your tail. Speaking about cops, they're much more intelligent in this sequel. Not only can they ram you, but they can also call back up and chase you into a dead end. In addition to that, it's much harder to lose the cops. This is definitely a welcome addition since taking a turn faster than usual could easily lose the police in the original game. Yet another welcome addition is the added feature of getting out of cars and stealing new ones. You can literally spend hours on the test drive option by stealing new cars every time your car gets beat up.

As for the graphics, wellÉ. A lot of work went to upgrading the AI in the game and enhancing the overall physics of the cars, so I guess Reflections pushed graphics down their list of priorities. Pop up is a very big problem this time around. You can only see a few hundred feet in front of you, and this definitely is a let down. The first game had less pop up, just as a reference. Although the car models and the environments have been cleaned up, the viewing distance from any point around your car is reduced compared to the original.

This game is very enjoyable, from a racing fan's viewpoint. If you liked Driver 1, you will absolutely LOVE Driver 2. Even though the pop up does hinder the overall look of the game, this becomes virtually unnoticeable when you're really involved in the story and the driving experience. I recommend this game to any PlayStation (and PlayStation2) owner, but for non-racing fans, I advise you to rent it first.

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