As you walk down the spunky streets of New York City, circa 1978, amidst all the radiant neon signs and pulsating beats of David Bowie and his contemporaries, you notice a pristine San Marino Spyder sitting parked by the curb surrounding the local precinct. Stealing it would not only be morally wrong, but for the average Joe it’d be a ticket to the jail cells. But you’re no model citizen. You’re ‘The Kid’, a country boy looking to make it big in the Big Apple.
Driver: Parallel Lines is the fourth instalment of a series that has been dragging its feet ever since its surprisingly successful debut. This time however, things have changed back to the way they were before. Instead of attempting to emulate a certain grand theft, unadulterated driving is given the utmost precedence and as a result, riding in any of the many vehicles that may be bought or ‘borrowed’ feels pretty damn good. In this Wii-specific version, motion-sensitive controls for the ‘E-brake’ turn and full 360’s work brilliantly and it’s all very natural.
So how exactly do you make it big by driving? There are a number of ways but ‘The Kid’ (TK for short) decides to ditch the typical vigilante slant and take the short-cut offered via smooth criminal activities. This involves everything from boy-racing for petty cash to ‘trading-in’ your current vehicle for a flashier set of wheels.
Your holder may ask you to perform a hit now and again. In such instances, mad driving skills alone aren’t enough. Good thing then that TK is well-versed in the art of spitting shrapnel; handguns, shotguns, even RPGs are easily obtainable in this virtual sandbox. Drive-by shooting takes the cake, though: it couldn’t be any easier than steering with the nunchuk attachment whilst taking pot-shots at any anything you desire with the Wii-mote.
Throughout the 32 main missions and side missions there isn’t much room for error. In a densely populated city home to many sweet rides, careless driving will lead to some spectacular crashes drawn out with some impressive slo-mo effects, but at the same time putting you out of action, period. Unfortunately, the controls can be a bit of a hit-and-miss at times and some gamers may find it difficult and confusing to get around the mapping provided (which cannot be changed).
Nit-pick aside, the latest Driver is a solid, albeit relatively linear cruise. It begins rather humbly, but a plot twist midway through the game changes the outlook both audio-visually and mission-wise. This is a fine return to form for the Driver franchise, but it may just be a bit too little, too late, especially with the behemoth that is Grand Theft Auto IV just a hairpin turn away.