two·fer (noun) \ˈtü-fər\ – Two articles available for the price of one.
With the recent release of Driver: San Fransisco, I figured I would take the time to review the origins of the series. Both Driver 1 and 2 were given their own individual releases for the Playstation, but were also later released together as a twin pack. Driver was originally released in 1999, Driver 2 in late 2000 and the twin pack in 2004. All three of these also saw a release as the Greatest Hits series.
In the Driver series you play as Tanner, an undercover cop with exceptional driving skills who puts them to good use to bring down crime syndicates. In both games you’ll be presented with the same premise, to perform different driving based tasks to accomplish your goal without totaling your vehicle.
There are 3 base modes to play: Driving games, Take a Ride and Undercover. Driving games offers short driving missions that are based on what you’ll be doing undercover, so you can use these to brush up on your skills or just enjoy making and beating high scores. Take a Ride is where you get to openly explore and roam each city. Undercover is the main story mode of the series.
Each game gives you four different cities to explore as you progress in your undercover missions. The original Driver offers Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York while Driver 2 takes you internationally to Havana, Cuba, Rio de Janeiro as well as Chicago and Las Vegas. These cities are expansive, wide open and they’ve done a good job of making you feel like you’re actually driving around these cities.
Driver is fairly simple and although you’re playing as Tanner you never really play any character, as much as you’ll be driving around assuming Tanner is behind the wheel. The cities are fun to explore with plenty of hidden areas and jumps to find but the roads are all straight and nothing more. In Take a Ride mode you can choose Day or Night in all but Los Angeles, as well as you’ll be limited to one vehicle to explore each city in.
Driver 2 is much the same as Driver, but it’s gameplay is a bit more polished. A very useful feature in Driver 2 is the ability to exit vehicles (as long as the cops aren’t on your tail), making missions and exploring the cities even more fun as now you can ditch a nearly wrecked vehicle for any other vehicle on the streets, as well as find switches to unlock hidden areas and cars. The four new cities are once again expansive and this time the roads actually bend and curve, adding a nice touch of realism. Take a Ride, this time, offers a handful of different vehicles to start exploring each city in, or you can just take anything else driving around.
The Driver series was among the leading edge of open world games, allowing you to explore on your own terms and throwing a lot of interesting twists in along the journey. Although the series has expanded as the gaming systems have, I have to say Driver 2 is my favorite. Despite Driver 2’s graphics being a bit grittier than the original, the fact that it doesn’t really make much use of the ability to exit your vehicle and sometimes the frame rate can drop pretty drastically, it still retains the true heart of the Driver series, which seems to have been lost after the first two installments.