Driver Parallel Lines ReviewCain Dornan
In an attempt to restore loyalty within a franchise that has been literally belted with disgust by fans after the last installment, developer Reflections has certainly had to work hard on the fourth installment in the once respected Driver series in order to revive the franchises dieing reputation. After delivering a bug-plagued, sloppy and generally unimpressive offering with DRIV3R, many gamers have been largely skeptical with Driver: Parallel Lines, which the developer has pegged as a return to its previous glory, one that offers immersive open-ended gameplay that captures the essence of two different time periods on the streets of the United States. The end result is a game that feels similar to previous Driver installments and the much-famed Grand Theft Auto series, although, a number of gameplay issues prevent the game from being thoroughly enjoyable.
The game begins in 1978, a time period where hippy clothes and funny, over-exaggerated walking styles were widely accepted. You assume the role of TK, an 18-year-old who decides to move to New York City to seek his fortune and have his fair share of fun along the way. Rather than taking the harder and more legit route of making money, young TK has decided to use his driving skills to aid local criminals in succeeding in their devious acts, which includes shootings, robberies and various other illegal activities. Unfortunately, not everything goes to plan, and TK soon finds himself in prison for 28 years. Shooting us forward 38 years, TK is now out of jail, and plans to do nothing more than get his fair share of revenge on those who have betrayed him.
Sticking true to the series history, the majority of gameplay time is spent driving, although, the occasional on-foot gunning mission does make the occasional appearance. With the game being spread over a large, free-roam city, each of the games missions are located at various different locations, requiring you to make you own way there by traveling through the streets. A small triangle on the map points in the direction of the next available mission, which gives you a general direction in which you need to travel in order to reach your next mission. The inaccuracy of this arrow can often become annoying, as it will randomly swing and rotate as you travel across the numerous bridges that separate each of the different areas within the city. At times, it will be pointing to the other side of the bridge, only to point back in the opposite direction once you have gone over the bridge and onto the other side.
Despite the driving elements taking up the majority of gameplay time, it largely proves to be an unexciting endeavor that is hardly varied or exciting. The majority of the games vehicles control similarly within each time period, which are usually slow and uninspired. While the inclusion of car chases and the ability to target and shoot from your vehicle does offer some slight variation, this feature quickly becomes a repetitive bore that offers a been there, done that feel after only a few minutes of play. Unfortunately, the on-foot sections are also sub-par, as these usually involve firing your various weapons that you can unlock as you progress through the game. Being that the games camera is situated in a third-person view, the inclusion of a targeting feature allows you to target nearby enemies by holding the left trigger button. This brings up a circular aiming reticule, which is usually placed on the closest enemy, with the ability to switch between nearby targets by tapping the right analogue stick in the desired direction. Unfortunately, the aiming system isnt quite as smooth and affective as it should be, resulting in severe damage being taken during firefights as you attempt to get it to target on the right enemy, only to have it spinning around and targeting non-threats, or not even targeting on someone at all.
The controls that plague both the driving and on-foot elements of the game often prove to be frustrating hindrances that subtract from enjoying the potentially solid experience that is on offer. Those who enjoy the whole rebel, criminal underworld theme that is set within a free roaming world will likely have plenty of fun with Reflections latest installment in the Driver series, however, the overly familiar gameplay style and missions only serve to drag down the entire experience, with many gamers likely to label the title as boring after experiencing only a few missions.
The graphics and sound during the games cinematics are nothing short of outstanding. The attention to detail with the characters, objects and environments are very impressive, incorporating fine detail that makes these uncommon appearances enjoyable to watch. However, once you are hit with the in-game graphics, things start to look fairly ordinary. Character models are bland and uninteresting, complete with jerky and uneven animation that adds further to the eyesore. While the games soundtrack can prove to be a great addition to the game, specifically with some of the pure classics that play whilst driving through the streets, the voice acting department, in some instances, is lacking. While the main characters usually sound fairly good, many of the lesser important individuals offer rushed and uninspired voices that are quickly forgotten.
In the end, Driver: Parallel Lines isnt exactly a terrible game. It does have its fair share of merits, being the potentially interesting storyline and the two different distinct eras that the game takes place in, but it also offers plenty of downfalls that manage to subtract from the experience greatly. Furthermore, much of the game has already been done before in various other titles in the past, resulting in a game that feels severely aged. Its a definitely improvement over DRIV3R, but it still doesnt quite reach the level of quality to warrant an immediate purchase. For those still interested in Parallel Lines, be sure to give the game a rent first.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.