Driver (iPhone / iPod Touch) Mini Review

   22/01/2010 at 16:19       Phil May       0 COMMENTS.
 - Driver, Gameloft, Reflections, iPhone, iPod Touch
It seems a little unfair that Reflections' Driver didn't so much lose its crown to Grand Theft Auto once it went 3D, it had its crown stamped on, melted down and turned into hubcaps.

Back in the PS1 era though, the original game was astonishingly good, giving players the chance to relive all those tail-sliding bouncy-sprung moments from classic Hollywood car chases.

Now Gameloft have taken Driver, and crammed the game into the slim innards of the iPhone / iPod Touch, retaining most of the core gameplay with a few unavoidable sacrifices made along the way.

The game kicks off with the classic cut scene from the original. You make your way to an underground car park for a "tryout" to see whether your driving skills are fit for purpose, taking a car through its paces and ticking off a number of different stunts and moves before getting the green light for your undercover underworld getaway driver career.

The cut scenes are so dark, it's difficult to make out what's going on - so if you've been running your iPhone or iPod Touch in dull mode to save a bit of battery juice you might want to whack it back up a touch or two.

The first sacrifice that's been made to get the game running on the iPhone is in the controls department. Once again, Gameloft have pretty much gone with the standard virtual crosspad idea, with graphical representations of gas, handbrake and steering (with the option to tilt if you like that sort of thing).

Once the car is under way, the controls are functional but nowhere near adequate for the task of throwing your car around. Taking to the sparsely populated streets of Miami for the first mission, Driver starts to look dated particularly when you directly compare it to some of the games we're seeing on the platform at the moment, including the crown-stealing GTA. Driver doesn't stutter, and maintains a nice and solid framerate, and in general things hang together really well.

But it's those damned controls. Again and again iPhone developers make a straight choice between attempting something innovative at the risk of alienating gamers, or just going with virtual D-Pads and covering up most of the screen display with your big sweaty thumbs.

What adds to the frustration is the placing of the handbrake control. In a game where you need to get the tail out on the car on a regular basis to hare around corners away from cops, Driver on iPhone puts the handbrake control right underneath the gas which means no "left foot braking" and a clunky jump from one to the other when you want to skid.

Like most iPhone games there's also not much of an option to change this, so you either have to like it or lump it.

Thankfully the game does come in full fat and lite flavours, so you can get to grips with that horrible control system before you buy. You might adapt to it, you might not - but it seems a shame that the rest of the game is nicely done, and captures the essence of the original game succesfully.

You can grab the lite version of Gameloft's Driver from here and the full fat £2.99 version from here if you want to relive those moments of greatness from the original. But if you're sensible you'll probably just throw an extra three quid at iTunes for GTA Chinatown Wars instead.
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