Driver 2 has a lot of spark but little zoom. It’s been over a year since the original Driver was released and everyone expected the same model, only with a few extra gadgets and enhancements.
Unfortunately, the time spent delivering an animated Tanner, curved roads and extra vehicles might have been better expended on building a driving game which actually moves with convincing speed. The real shock for those who loved the original game is that Driver 2 is not nearly as speedy as the original.
Yes, curved roads were a great idea but not at the expense of a swift frame rate. On one of the very first missions in the game, Tanner is tasked with chasing a fleeing train through Chicago. The scene is reminiscent of Gene Hackman’s frantic chase through New York in The French Connection – only re-shot by the Warchowski brothers.
The slowdown, provoked by giving the PlayStation too many polygons to push around, is worrying and merely underlines the feeling the Reflections have attempted something which is simply too ambitious for the hardware.
The sense of speed is better conveyed in other cities such as Las Vegas and Havana, and then the game really begins to impress. Weaving in and out of the traffic as Tanner tries to lose his tail is one of the more electrifying aspects of the game. There are other fundamental problems though. The pop-up is absolutely atrocious. The fact that Ridge Racer managed to all but avoid this problem five years ago only serves to highlight what a technical disappointment Driver 2 can be.
Such problems clearly have a direct effect on the gameplay. Steering becomes a case of trying not to overcompensate too much when slow down occurs. While walls, trees, even skyscrapers suddenly appearing in front of your vehicle makes escaping the police or gang members more difficult than it needs to be.
But it is not all bad. There is a great game lurking under this somewhat battered shell if you persevere enough. Thankfully there is more variety in the mission objectives than in the first Driver. Tanner’s ability to exit the car adds much to the game and the developers have put some thought into altering the game from mere A to B driving. Jumping on to a departing ferry, avoiding exploding missiles falling from the back of a van and wrecking a series of enemy vehicles in a very short time limit adds a great deal to the diversity . Driver 2 will be bought by many but may disappoint. An enjoyable two-player game does make up for some of the technical problems which have failed to be fine tuned before release. Yet given the original’s success even Arthur Daley would have little trouble flogging this over hyped vehicle. Though the use of Hay Day diamonds can be fun on certain missions the slowdown can spoil the overall experience.