by BAM! Entertainment
The GameCube has finally landed on the UK shores and already people are commenting on how and if it is better than the other consoles. Of course what really matters is the games that are on offer. Driven on the Playstation 2 is a good racing game and the games translation to the GameCube has brought about a few enhancements that take advantage of the tiny consoles extra power.
The game contains a story mode, an arcade mode and a multiplayer mode. The story mode contains a host of objectives that range from the initial quick lap to full blown races and championships. What is good about these objectives is that they are not just win every race like you would expect. There are situations where you have to block the opposition and protect your team-mate's position. As far as I can remember this is the first attempt at introducing team tactics into a racing game, arcade or simulation. There are scenarios where you have to race through the city streets and it can be really funny trying to avoid the oncoming traffic. The arcade mode lets you select a single race or race in championships. Initially there is only the Euro Championships to race in but the US & World Championships can be unlocked to compete in.
In Driven's story mode you play as Joe Tanto or Jimmy Bly and race for Team Spirit. Jimmy Bly is the 21 year old driver who has let his promising career slip off the rails as he has succumbed to the distractions that the razzmatazz and glamour bring to his profession. Joe Tanto, played by Stallone in the film, is the experienced driver of Team Spirit. Missing out on a championship through injury, Tanto hit the bottle. Now he has to prove that he can still perform as a racing driver.
Driven is, surprisingly, a very solid arcade racer. What makes the game unique is the ability to get in the 'zone'. As you drive and manage to avoid collisions your 'zone' meter fills up. If this meter manages to fill up you have arrived in the 'zone', in other words your concentration has peaked and your steering and speed increase as you temporarily become at one with the car. A bump slip of the road will bring you out of this state and return you to your normal ability.
Graphically the game is up to standard. With this GameCube version the framerate is absolutely sensational. High speed crashes are an absolute delight and when they occur not a single frame is dropped. When you have a spectacular crash the camera switches to an external view. This can be annoying but thankfully it can be turned off in the options menu. Whilst you are in the 'zone' the edges of the screen blur. This is a nice affect and doesn't impair your vision.
The problems that the PS2 version had with the steering have been rectified and the GameCube version is far superior in it's handling. While it still would have been nice to have a damage meter it isn't really a problem. The cars are now more tolerant of small bumps and only serious bangs will seriously damage the car.
The game provides text feed back for all the objectives. Before each episode in the story mode there are some pictures of the commentators with thought bubbles (no text) etc. There is speech for this section but to be honest it has no bearing on the gameplay and is only there to set the scene.
Driven is difficult to classify as an arcade racer in many respects. It lacks the pit stops and the advanced car setups that a simulation has but it requires an excellent knowledge of the tracks in order to succeed and a strict adherence to the racing lane is far more important in Driven than in most simulations that I have played. Overall all fans of Indycar racing and Formula 1 should give Driven a go.
Overall Game Rating: 8.3/10 Driven is a very good start for driving games on the GameCube. A superb framerate and improved steering make this the version to own if you have a GameCube.
Deaf Gamers comment: The game is fine for deaf gamers. Only little things like Stallone saying 'Gentlemen start you engines' and the commentators banter, before a story mode scenario, are missing but this doesn't affect the gameplay.