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'Parallel Lines': Put It in Drive

"Driver: Parallel Lines" has mini-games, chases and replay value. (Atari)

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Friday, May 12, 2006

"Driver: Parallel Lines" is the fourth game in a franchise that has sold more than 15 million units worldwide. When the first "Driver" shipped for PlayStation in 1999, it revolutionized the driving genre with a gripping crime-story mode and dozens of addictive mini-games. The 2000 sequel failed to match the original, but it did provide an entertaining experience. The franchise was nearly totaled with the third installment, which shipped for Xbox and PlayStation 2 in 2004. That game brought the action out of the car and into the streets but crashed with horrible controls and shoddy design.

Although "Parallel Lines" doesn't live up to the original, it does avoid the wreckage of the third game and is a solid driving experience. The game introduces a new driver called The Kid, who in the early levels is in New York City circa 1978 and then again in 2006 after he is released from jail. This gives the game two eras to work with, which opens up a rich musical soundtrack and a diverse interactive Big Apple.

Unfortunately, the single-player game lacks the depth of characters that "Grand Theft Auto" delivers. And this being a "Grand Theft Auto" clone, it falls short. To its credit, it's the best clone to date. Though the on-foot action has been overhauled and is now playable, the heart of this franchise has always been fast chases through crowded city streets. The driving experience in this game is above and beyond any "Grand Theft Auto" game, and the ability to trick out your vehicles adds replay value. The game's open world has mini-games such as circuit races and demolition derby, so you can join these races at will. An online mode allows as many as eight players to enter the same game world and roam the streets or race a circuit. That's something not even "Grand Theft Auto" offers.

-- John Gaudiosi

Driver: Parallel Lines Mature, PS2, Xbox ($40) Atari/Reflections


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