Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Driver - Parallel Lines

Driver returns and improves.
Review By Swiftshark

Driver: Parallel Lines(DPL) is the fourth installment of Reflections' long running and often delayed history. This time around the focus is thankfully again much more on the driving while the on foot action has been drastically improved from Driv3r. Sadly, Film Director mode and the mini games are no longer there.

STORY: You play as TK or "The Kid", a young wheelman who pretty much will do any job for some scratch. Unlike previous games where you played as an undercover policeman, this time, you are out for yourself right from the get go. The story starts out in 1978 New York and after being framed by several of the bad guys who employed you, TK gets to spend 28 years in the pen. Once you emerge it is 2006 and the City is completely updated. The story then becomes a tale of revenge as you go after the entire crew that left you holding the bag 28 years ago. The story is decently thought out and very Hollywood like in it's progression.

CONTROLS: As was the case with Driv3r the controls are broken down into two categories. Driving vehicles and On Foot. The car, bike and heavy machinery handling is absolutely superb. Each vehicles handles in its own unique way in terms of weight, speed, handling etc. etc. The way you can powerslide and burn out at will is fantastic and depending on the car you choose you can perform some very cool tricks. The lack of a designated Burnout button however is somewhat depressing. On Foot controls are also dramatically improved from Driv3r's clumsy attempt. Aiming and shooting has been significantly improved but the lack of a jump button is a little bit of a let down. Although to be honest, Tanner's fairy hop from D3 is something I'm glad not experiencing again. Swimming has also been removed along with boats in general. falling in the water won't kill you though, you'll simply respawn back on shore and be soaking wet. The weapon variety is still nice and they all handle pretty well. Controls on foot still need some tweaking in my view but it certainly is much better than Driv3r was.

GAMEPLAY: Gameplay is no longer split into the good old categories of Take-A-Ride, missions and mini games. Rather, it is now much more GTA-like in terms of going to get jobs by stepping into markers strewn throughout the city. along with the missions there are also Taxi missions, Hitman missions, Car Stealing missions etc. etc. Very GTA like but again, I like the formula so for me its a win win. There are also a slew of secret vehicles that are unlocked along the way and now you can customize these rides as well. Customizations include engine and handling upgrades, body kits, paints(limited), bulletproofing capabilities, tints and nitrous. The mods are not too in depth but still a very welcome feature that will provide a deeper level of enjoyment. The environment is very large and includes NYC, The Bronx, Queens, Long Island and even New Jersey. Additionally there are two eras as was described earlier so the game world is doubled in terms of fun. And although the missions are relatively simple in concept, chase this guy, steal that car, go here and then there, it certainly follows the trend of Reflections trial and error style of gameplay. Mostly it is simply a case of getting everything memorized (Turning points, enemy positions) rather than skillful gaming. Also it is important to note that the difficulty has been toned down from previous Driver games. No more ripping your hair out.

GRAPHICS: The graphics in DPL are very good overall. Framerate has been improved and there is much less pop up than ever before. The scenery is still very nice and believable and the cars are really beautiful. Characters are crafted right down to the smallest of details. Explosions and car wreckage are downgraded somewhat from Driv3r but are still very cool to watch. TK's flapping mullet though....hello?

CAMERA: The camera options are pretty simple but get the job done. Driving angles only have two options which sucks a little if your driving big trucks and busses and on foot has just the one TPV. The camera can get a bit clunky at times but generally it is acceptable.

SOUND, FMV's & SFX: The FMV's are beautifully rendered and executed. The voices are good and the two eras are nicely represented both in terms of overall lighting as well as clothing and fashion. The music is pretty cool, there aren't any radio stations or anything like that but the selections are ideal for this type of game. SFX are also good and believable. Crashing sounds, explosions, falling in water etc. are all nicely implemented.

REPLAYABLE: Replay value in my opinion is extremely high. Once you've beaten the story portion of the game you'll be able to switch eras at will and continue finding all of the hidden stars and completing all of the sidejobs. There are races galore and the city in general can provide hours upon hours of fun. For me, I've always spent countless days exploring for glitches, jumps and other hard to get to areas so I am completely content with the replay value here.

OVERALL: All in all I rate Driver: Parallel Lines a 9/10. I love the improvements over driv3r while returning the focus to more behind the wheel action. I really enjoy the GTA-like mission setup in the game and couldn't care less about all of the fanboys crying out there. (Those suckers don't make a penny off of these projects anyway) The on foot portion is dramatically improved and the unlockables offer much reason to play long and hard. Replay value is good since there is much to explore and many hard to get areas to try and get into. Rent it if you are fickle or on welfare and buy it if you are a true Driver fan. This one will not disappoint.

SYSTEM: Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 2, XBOX, PC



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