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Driven
Review By:  Jared Black
Developer:   BAM!
Publisher:   BAM!
# of Players:   1-2
Genre:   Racing
ESRB:   Teen
Date Posted:   11-15-01

Driven was a bad movie. A very bad movie. However, the premise of it (old CART driver comes back to guide a young driver coming apart at the seams) lends itself very well to a video game, so itís no surprise that someone picked up the license. Unfortunately, as is the case with many movie to game conversions, the game is as bad as the movie.

Itís not that they didnít try to make a good game. Driven offers up several modes of gameplay, including Arcade, Story, and Multiplayer. In the Arcade mode, there are 12 different characters to choose from. Each of them, as in most other racing games, has his/her own strengths and weaknesses. In the Arcade mode, there are four different championships, three of which are initially locked. In the Story mode, youíll control both Jimmy Bly and Joe Tanto through a series of different scenarios. The storyline mode is actually very well done, as it loosely follows the movie and has a nice variety of objectives to meet. Additionally, BAM! did a good job of incorporating getting "into the zone" into the game. After racing well for a while, everything will go silent as the driver blocks out all outside interference. Once this higher plane of concentration is reached, the player be able to go a bit faster, brake better, and take turns sharper. However, one wrong move will break the driver's concentration and the driver will quickly fall out of the zone. All of this is good enough.

What arenít good enough are the controls. I donít know if the development team tried to make an arcade/simulation hybrid or simply got confused, but the controls are a big mess. It acts like an arcade racer in that the physics arenít terribly realistic (huge crashes are common), the cars will brake extremely quickly, and the cars canít be customized; however, it also acts like a simulation in that the controls are very touchy. Even the tiniest of errors will result in a spinout, and overall itís just too touchy for even a hardcore sim (which this game isnít). Worse, whenever a big crash occurs the camera will pan out to a fixed camera point overlooking that part of the track. I know this was done to make everything seem more cinematic, but all it does is result in confusion.  When this happens, it can often take a lot longer to recover from a crash than it normally would.  In the end, youíve got a racing game that feels like an arcade racer but behaves like a sim on steroids. Ugh.

The graphics donít shine either. In fact, this is probably the most average looking PS2 game Iíve seen yet. Everything about the game is generic and bland, from the environments (complete with some very low-res textures) to the cars (with simple geometry). While the graphics are good enough that they donít offend the eyes, theyíre also so unremarkable that nothing positive can be said about them. Certainly not the worst-looking PS2 game by any stretch, but itís still several laps behind Gran Turismo 3.

The sound carries the same blandness, with generic engine and ambient sounds. The voice acting is adequate, but often comes across as over-the-top (and personally, I hate Sly Stalloneís voice). The soundtrack is also forgettable, with a very 80ís rock theme to it. While the songs fit the spirit of the movie (which is good I guess), in a video game setting theyíre nothing more than background noise.

HIGHS:

  • "In the zone" is an innovative addition to the racing genre.
  • It captures the movie fairly well, if youíre into that kind of thing.

LOWS:

  • Horrible, horrible controls. Only after playing for a looooong time will they become manageable, but even then the player never feels like they have total control.
  • Bland and generic graphics.
  • Bland and generic sound, save for some decent voice acting.

FINAL VERDICT:

Outside of the nice implementation of the "in the zone" feature, thereís very little to like here. Horrible controls make the game nearly unplayable, and the generic sound and graphics do nothing to enhance the experience. Often one extremely bad area can kill an otherwise respectable effort, and thatís the case here.

Overall Score: 2.9

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