Driver is one of the first racing games that I ever got to play and it was always a fun one. It was certainly the first open world driving game that I had ever played. The game really holds up well and honestly you can entertain yourself for many hours just by driving around. Even without the story this game has a lot of depth and with it…well this ends up being one of the greatest driving games out there. I can see the appeal of Grand Theft Auto’s driving aspect if it’s anything like this and I look forward to checking out the Driver sequels.
The plot can be a bit hard to follow but you seem to be a double agent for the cops. You infiltrate the mafia by pretending to be one of them and from there you work on getting their trust. By the end you have to try to put an end to their plot. In many ways this feels like the basic synopsis for one of the Fast and the Furious films. As you might have guessed the plot wasn’t exactly the more interesting aspect of the game. I’m glad the game had it of course and it wasn’t bad, just a bit on the generic side.
The gameplay is where this title really shines. The driving is incredibly smooth. Dare I say that this may be one of the best titles in the whole genre on that regard? You can’t even compare this to a lot of the other big titles like Need For Speed. (Although I haven’t played the more modern ones yet) You never have to worry about quick turns or anything like that. If you want to drive somewhere or dodge obstacles you will be able to do so without a problem. It’s these basic things that help make Driver so good. The fundamentals are all completely on point.
This may be a given, but I also like how the battles with the cops play out. You can choose to either run away from them entirely or engage. If you engage then you need to total their car without getting totaled yourself. You can take out 2-3 police cars before you eventually have to stick to running. It’s fun to try and get your crime meter all the way to the top and then see how long you last. Once the police start throwing out the roadblocks then your time is nearly up. Those things are really hard to get around although sometimes there is a slight gap for you. Otherwise you have to try and do a quick 180 but that’s usually just about impossible in that situation.
The stages are also huge. It’s fun driving around the city. You can stop by the park if you like or head to the highway for some fast driving. You won’t need to pass by the same place twice for a very long time unless you want to. The weather also changes as you go from day to night and sometimes it will also be raining. The effects are pretty fun even if they don’t change the actual gameplay all that much. Unfortunately my TV still can’t handle old gen games too well so I really couldn’t see much of anything while playing these sections. It’s why I was unable to handle the final level in the game. Trust me, this game can be super difficult if you are unable to see where you are going or anything like that.
The difficulty is nothing to sneeze at either way though. Some of the levels are reasonably difficult here even if you can see. I think you can take off a point or two from the difficulty level once you can see but don’t underestimate the cops or the mafia chasing you. Practice makes perfect and just work on your turning skills til you can shake them without even thinking about it. That will be the moment when you can really take off. Alternately just see how long you can follow the rules in free roam. I would try that for a while, but eventually I would go back to driving at top speed and just having a blast running around. It’s really hard to go slow for long.
As for the graphics, they are top notch for the PS1. This game could easily pass for a PS2 game. The models for the cars and levels are excellent and there is a lot of attention to detail here. The soundtrack also isn’t bad although it is a little less impressive. Between the fairly long story and the fee roam this game has a ton of replay value. It’s a car game that you will find yourself going back to time and time again. It took me over 10 years to finally get back to this game, but it was certainly worth it. I have a PS3 Driver game, but I think I’ve got to go through a few others before that one so it still could be a little while til I’m back with this franchise.
Overall, I’d recommend checking this game out. There aren’t a whole lot of open world car games. I think it would probably get old if too many people did it, but as this is my first experience naturally it was a whole lot of fun. Of course, the game is quite old so it’s understandable if you don’t want to go that far back. Maybe it’s on the PSN or something. Now there are only 2 more PS1 games for me to go through and since Tarzan isn’t working I basically just have one left. That’s definitely not too bad if I do say so myself!