By Sam Coles:
A series that Ubisoft seem to be ignoring these days is the Driver series as the last game we got was all the way back in 2011 on the Xbox 360 and PS3. It’s a shame too because the games are fun car chase games emulating stunts you would see in films from the 1970’s such as Smoky and The Bandit. However they also presented good crime thriller stories with cliché but fun characters with over the top action and shoot outs in the cutscenes. Driver 2 was released 17 years ago on the PS1 and was an ambitious game for the limited hardware with a fully 3D open world with four cites to explore.
The story of Driver 2 sees John Tanner back in the driving seat as he goes undercover once again to track down Jericho and Solomon Cian who are suspects of a murder of a Brazilian man in downtown Chicago. The adventure takes Tanner on a global adventure across four different real life cities Chicago, Havana, Rio and Las Vegas, these maps are huge and there are lots of cars to steal and drive around. The story is really good it’s a good old fashioned crime thriller but the voice acting is a bit corny and over the top but this was the PS1 and cinematic story telling was in its infancy.
Gameplay is an open world driving game and unlike Grand Theft Auto at the time Driver 2 was a fully 3D game from the third person. This game was released just one year before Grand Theft Auto III, but this game laid down the frame work of a 3D open world, yes it looks dated by today’s standards but it was highly ambitious for the limited PS1 hardware. You drive around doing missions in the undercover mode and these missions can range from chases, time trial style modes to get to a destination or my least favourite tailing missions. You can get out of your car in this game unlike the first but it only serves to steal another car, so if you’re expecting to be able to beat seven shades of blue out of pedestrians or shoot people then go and play Driver 3.
The controls are really nice considering it’s a driving game on the PS1 the cars have a sense of weight and momentum. That’s what I’ve always liked about the driver games they’ve always added a sense of weight to your car when you throw it around corners or when you end up in a head on collision.
Presentation is not bad considering it’s a fully 3D game, yes you do get the standard pixel wobble that was present in all 3D games on the PlayStation, but this is an ambitious game recreating four real life major cities. The car models look decent with some impressive damage modelling for the time, with hubcaps flying off when you turn corners and chunks of paint as you crash into a wall.
The only major issues I have with this game is firstly the pop in issues and I know what you’re going to say “It’s a 3D driving game on the PS1 what do you expect”? That’s not always the case there are examples of racing/driving games that don’t have this issue one of them being Wipeout, plus this game was released very late in the PS1’s life cycle so I expected a bit more graphically. The other major issues is the frame rate, the game has a lot of frame rate issues and this was a big problem in the original Driver. When there are a lot of cars on screen the game slows down to a crawl reaching to frame rates in the single digits and it becomes unplayable.
Overall Driver 2 is a decent early open world game on the original PlayStation, it’s easy to find and cheap these days so if you have a PS3 either download it or play it via physical disc as PS3’s can play PS1 games.