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‘Driver: Parallel Lines”— no Sunday stroll through the Big Apple

by Kenny Lindsay

Driver: Parallel Lines by Reflections, the fourth edition of the Driver games, makes an acknowledgeable attempt to keep this series of games afloat. For a generation of games that followed Grand Theft Auto, and in my opinion, has been beaten to death, this game offers just enough variety to keep the player entertained and wanting to hold on just long enough to see where the storyline leads.

So here’s the lowdown: The game starts you out in Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs during 1979, when the crime rate was still fairly high. Your character is a young punk named TK with the right amount of guts and lack of remorse to feel perfectly comfortable leading a life of murder and betrayal. After a long cinematic introduction, the game skips over any start menus or option select menus and throws the player directly into the middle of a police chase. The cops are easy to ditch so that you can get started right away on your life of crime. Eventually after playing multiple and interchanging missions, TK is caught and thrown in prison, only to remerge in the year 2006 to ‘– yup, you guessed it ‘– seek brutal vengeance on those who betrayed him. Although this all sounds very cliché, the game actually has a ton of neat little features and details that are all well worth exploring.

The maps of the city are laid out very accurately, enough so that I attempted to head down to the part of Brooklyn where I used to live and perform a severe drive-by on my ex-girlfriend. Unfortunately that part of the city is not included in the game, so instead I hit Coney Island, which is about as far east into Brooklyn as you can go. Most major landmarks are included and if a player is at all familiar with the area it may actually help in getting around. The pause menu includes a nice map as well, with drop points, available missions and of course your closest hideout were you can repair, upgrade, and clear your sheet of any outstanding felonies.

There are 30 missions total in the game and around 80 vehicles to choose from. Any vehicle you run across can be highjacked, including tractor-trailer rigs, utility trucks, public transportation, classic muscle cars and even SWAT vehicles. Multiple missions are usually available at one time, each of which can be played in any order the player sees fit. Every time a set of scenarios has been completed, a new mission will appear on the map, and increasing in difficulty as the game progresses.

A nice new feature that helps with the sometimes awkward, third-person point of view is target tracking and locking onto a subject. It makes shootouts and gun play a lot easier. The controls are extremely sensitive but, with a good amount of finesse, many crashes and cops can easily be avoided.

I found the best way from getting to point A to point B is to not give the police a reason to pull you over, leading to one of the greatest challenge factors of the entire game. It seems like the speed limit is set to about two miles per hour and most of the vehicles you drive can’t go under fifty. This will test anyone’s patience. First of all, nobody drives that slow in Manhattan. Second, if a cab driver can go like a bat out of hell, why can’t you? So you floor it and now there are five squad cars on your rear and your hot-rod is peaking at over 100 miles per hour through narrow, residential streets. The only way to avoid heavy traffic is to cut through a park, head down some el tracks and mow down any innocent pedestrians that get in your way. Now you’re wanted for murder one and it’s really time to shake the five O’s. The most effective way I found to get rid of the fuzz is to, well’…kill them. Pull over, hop out and start blasting. When the smoke clears, jack a fresh set of tires and you’re off on your merry way to complete another mission.

The graphics are at best amusing but the original ’70s soundtrack and rumbling sound of the engines make up for it. Songs by David Bowie, Blondie and even KC and the Sunshine Band are just a few that are thrown in. I’ve read some other reviews and almost all of them mention how much the game is similar to that of the movie Goodfellas. I couldn’t agree more. In fact, one of the characters even sounds like Ray Liotta.

Overall this game is fun and challenging, and with a few added enhancements from the previous versions, Driver: Parallel Lines should leave a notable mark. I would recommend picking up a previously played game even if you don’t get into it, it’s fun to just tool around the Big Apple and check out the scenery.

To comment on this column, e-mail kenny@yesweekly.com.

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