Driver: Parallel Lines PlayStation 2
Published by Atari
Developed by Reflections Interactive Limited
Release Date: Out Now
Driver: Parallel Lines, an introduction.
You could argue that it only takes one poor sequel to kill a series. Driver and it's sequel were very popular and well received games but the third in the series DRIV3R (or Driver 3 as most still call it) effectively wiped out the series' reputation in one swoop. The game just had too many problems and it has to be one of the biggest disappointments we've had here at Deaf Gamers. Still that's all history now and here we have the next game in the series, Driver: Parallel Lines.
What's the game about?
In Driver: Parallel Lines you'll play as TK, a wheelman. The game begins in 1978 with TK being offered a chance at the big time by the local criminal fraternity. Naturally it all goes wrong and 28 eight years later, in 2006 when TK is released from prison, the game continues. Basically then you'll have two eras to play in with part of the game in 1978, with 1970's vehicles and weapons, and part of the game in a modern day setting with modern vehicles and weapons.
What's good about the game?
Driver: Parallel Lines is, for all intents and purposes, a GTA clone so basically if you want a GTA 3 kind of game you're probably going to enjoy what Parallel Lines has to offer. Much of what you've experienced in GTA 3 you'll experience here. There are set missions for you to undertake, although you can ignore these whenever you want to and simply drive around one of three quite large sections of the city. You can steal cars, get involved in shoot-outs etc. and it's all pretty much like you've experienced in the Rockstar developed games. There are some differences though. Driving your car into a garage won't simply change the colour of your vehicle. You can have custom paint jobs, add new parts and add special features (such as bullet-proof tyres or bullet-proof windscreens) amongst other things. You can store a certain amount of cars in a garage which is an improvement over the GTA series. Of course vehicle modifications cost money so you'll have to earn the cash if you want to improve your rides.
The missions themselves are a mix of traditional Driver challenges (most involve being on four wheels although there are some on-foot missions) and missions you would have already experienced in GTA 3, which may or may not be a good thing depending on if you like the GTA games as well as the Driver series. The game autosaves in specific places and thankfully this autosave system has been well implemented meaning you'll never have to backtrack too far should you fail a mission. Whilst changing cars in the GTA games was a good way to reduce your wanted level, in Parallel Lines you have to be extra careful as both your vehicle and TK himself have wanted (or heat) levels, so it's possible for the cops to chase you even if you have changed cars or are simply walking the street. You'll also be chased for speeding and driving dangerously within the vision of a police car, which means you have to be extra careful when cruising around the streets.
What's not so good about the game?
There may be too much of a GTA 3 influence in Parallel Lines for some fans of the Driver series. In fact if you didn't like, or have become tired of, the GTA series then Parallel Lines certainly isn't going to spark your interest. Even if you are a fan of the GTA games you'll certainly have a feeling of déjà vu with a fair portion of the missions and this will be disappointing if you were expecting something a little more original from the fourth title in the series. Indeed it could be claimed that the developers have took the soft option by creating a clone of one of the PlayStation 2's better games rather than creating a game that stays true to the Driver series. The game's story really isn't that great to be fair, although this is an accusation you could also level at the GTA games. The police AI seems a little aggressive at times as they will simply plough through vehicles to get to you and just don't give up until their vehicles are destroyed.
How does it look?
One area Parallel Lines definitely has the edge over the GTA series is the quality of the graphics, which not only look better but also perform better too. The frame rate for the most part is smooth with only a few dips here and there. When you compare this to the rather sluggish frame rate in the GTA games (at least on the PlayStation 2) it's actually quite refreshing to see. The cutscenes are also worthy of a mention as they actually look very good.
How deaf gamer friendly is the game?
When you begin the game for the first time you'll go through the usual routine of creating a profile and then you'll be taken to a setup screen. One of the options on this screen is to enable subtitles. This means of course that when you start playing a new game the subtitles will already be enabled which is great. The subtitles are placed on a darkened overlay which makes them easy to read. The subtitles aren't colour-coded but it's no real problem to work out who is saying what. The peripheral speech in the game (such as the comments that pedestrians sometimes make as you pass them by) isn't subtitled but thankfully this doesn't cause any great problems. All tutorial messages and mission instructions are shown in text. Mission instructions can be recalled at any time by pressing the start and then the square button which is useful. A CB icon will appear when a new mission is available. You'll also notice the radar flash red then blue when cop cars are pursuing you.
There can be little doubt that Driver: Parallel Lines is an improvement over the disappointment that was DRIV3R. Parallel Lines is definitely more enjoyable but it's also lost a lot of what made the first two games in the series great. In fact in many ways this fourth game in the series feels more like a GTA game than a Driver game and this is something not every fan of the series is going to be happy about.
Overall Game Rating: 7.2/10
Deaf Gamers Classification:
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Driver: Parallel Lines is much better than the disappointing DRIV3R. However, it may be a bit too much like GTA III for fans of the series.