Driver Parallel Lines is one of my absolute, all-time favorite games. I also feel it’s the most competent GTA clone ever made. Let’s be honest here, by this point the Driver series was chasing GTA and trying its hardest to grab a chunk of its success. With Driv3r being, well Driv3r, the series needed a refresh; it needed something that made it stand out, but not something so drastic that it felt like a completely different game. Driver Parallel Lines came along with an air or familiarity, but also one of renewal, which is where the era switch comes into play, but we’ll get into that in just a bit.
Driver Parallel Lines starts off in 1970s New York City, with the protagonist TK (The Kid) who just so happens to be a getaway driver, imagine that. TK works for criminals throughout New York City, digging himself deeper and deeper into the seamy underbelly of the day. Throughout the first half of the game TK will be introduced to all the major criminals that will setup the second half of the game. Meanwhile TK will acquire safe houses and take part in many different crimes, as well as be able to take part in various events such as races around the city. Eventually the criminals TK is working for decide he’s the perfect scapegoat to take the heat off of them, and decide to set him up.
TK is arrested and sent to prison for quite some time. Sadly there are no missions pertaining to TK’s prison life, which would have been pretty awesome. Maybe a few missions setting up what happens in the second half of the game, but nope. Solely through a cut scene TK is set up, imprisoned, and released many years later. When released TK has grown older and has revenge on his mind. The year is now 2006 and you’ll notice a whole new color to the world around you, as well as how things have changed in the city. TK now sets his sights on exacting his revenge on the people who pinned the blame on him and sent him away. Slowly but surely TK works his way through all those former associates and finally finds the main person. I imagine by now you already know what happens, so I’ll leave it there.
All the way through the game I felt this was the best Driver so far. They had really stepped up their game in building not only a living, breathing city, but making the character control well and making the game fun to play. There were a ton of cars to not only steal, but you can store them and customize them as well. The car storage system is something that I have mixed feelings about. For example, you’ll find a car and take it back to one of the storage garages and from then on it’s always there. You’re only allowed to have one version, but you can storage every single vehicle in the game and customize it. Where things get odd is when you era shift and take a 2006 era car back into the 1970s. I understand there really is no reason to restrict the player from doing so, but it just feels odd.
And that, dear reader, is the most amazing aspect of this game. The fact that you can shift from the 1970s to 2006 instantly, anytime you want. TK changes to the era appropriate version whichever you’re in, but again you can take any of the cars out of your garage and drive them around whichever era you desire. The 1970s NYC has many landmarks of the era, including The World Trade Center. This game being released only five years after the events of September 11th this was one thing that I found to be fascinating within the game. If you time shift to 2006 the area is under construction, much like the real thing. The time shift feature gives the player the ability to see how things changed in the city between the two eras, and that’s something that I feel this game did perfectly and is quite unique.
I love this game so much that I bought the collector’s edition as well as purchased the slightly improved version for the Nintendo Wii. While I can say the Wii version does look slightly better, it’s the Wii controls that really let this game down for that version. I love the ability to modify the cars as well as the on the fly ability to adjust the height of any vehicle I own. Since very few Lowrider games have been made, GTA San Andreas and the official Lowrider video game being the only two I can think of, the ability to slam a customized car to the ground and drive along was pretty awesome back when I originally played the game.
The Driver series took a turn back toward its roots for the next console installment, but the PSP got Driver 76, the Nintendo DS received C.O.P. The Recruit, which is clearly using assets from Parallel Lines, and the Nintendo 3DS got Driver Renegade 3D, again using assets from Parallel Lines. So while the consoles moved backwards to bring back Tanner as the protagonist, portable consoles continued to use the assets from Parallel Lines to create their own branch of the Driver series. I own and enjoy both Driver 76 and C.O.P. The Recruit, but I think most of that comes from the familiarity of the surroundings in the game. For some reason there doesn’t seem to be a lot of love for Driver Parallel Lines, but I will admit it. I truly love this game and I like the portable versions of the game using it as a platform of their own.