Maurice Suckling (Writer)
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Driver (known as Driver: You Are the Wheelman in the US or Driver 1), is an action and racing video game developed by Reflections Interactive (now known as Ubisoft Reflections), and published by GT Interactive. It is the first game in the Driver series and was released in June 30, 1999 in North America for the PlayStation and in 2000 for Microsoft Windows.
Driver is set in an undetermined time (possibly in the late 70's) in four major cities in the United States: Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York, plus a secret city. The game follows Tanner, an NYPD detective gone undercover who must stop various gangs by doing jobs such picking up mobsters, stopping rival cars and scaring taxi customers. Driver features elements of driving and racing games along with sandbox gameplay, allowing the player to drive freely in all the game's cities.
The game's gameplay and features, inspired by 1960s and 1970s car chases movies, were well praised, shipping more than 3 million copies becoming one of the best seller PlayStation game, and scoring 87 out of 100 in the aggregate site Metacritic. The success of the original game led to the release of 3 sequels and spin-offs, and a featured film on the way.
Gameplay[edit | edit source]
The game's main mode is the Undercover mode but the player also has an option to drive around in the cities in the Take a Ride mode and dirt tracks in the Training mode. There are also other modes in the Driving games mode, like Getaway, escaping from a police chase , checkpoint, where the player has to cross the most number of checkpoints around the cities and the survival, where the player has to last most time as possible while escaping from various indestructible police cars.
The game also features a Film Director, where the players can create their own replays, with the ability to change various camera angles and positions
Initially, it was only released for PlayStation; Windows and Apple Macintosh ports were released less than a year later. A special Game Boy Color version was released, with top-down view, and only three cities (San Francisco was removed), and fewer missions.
Plot[edit | edit source]
Characters[edit | edit source]
The game's main protagonist is Tanner, voiced by Bradley Lavelle, a former race car driver that becomes an undercover cop who must infiltrate in the Castaldi family, a dangerous mafia family. Other characters include Lt. McKenzie, his boss; Rufus, a local pimp; Mojo, an informant; Jean Paul, a criminal who Tanner helps to escape from prison; Slater, a man who has a major hatred towards Tanner; Don Hancock, a politician that is running for president.
Story[edit | edit source]
The game starts with Tanner and Lt. McKenzie are talking about a man named Rufus. In order to find out more about him, Tanner must give up his status as a cop and go undercover. Tanner has to prove to very lowly gangsters in a parking garage that he can do jobs for them by demonstrating his skills while keeping the car intact.
"Hey man, we got a tail!" Tanner begins with a lowly bank job carried out by a man named Art and his associates "Lose the tail man!!", before being called up to either drive a stolen car to a yard for a respray or helping a lowly gangster called Tico carry out an assassination. If Tanner takes the stolen car mission he works for Art in exchanging a briefcase for a key, but ends up being double-crossed and forced to chase the double-crosser across Miami Bay. If Tanner takes Tico for a ride then Tanner cleans up after a driver left a stolen car and its occupants in the lurch.
Tanner then talks to a pimp named Rufus who reveals that he is busting out an associate of his called Jean-Paul from an armored car. When Tanner carries this out, he either smashes a group of restaurants for a gangster who has found one of his associates lacking in paying for protection money, or drives an extremely fast car to safety for a gangster who needs the car for a job. If Tanner smashes the restaurants, he is forced to pick up a supply of guns for an operation and get home with the goods. If he delivers the car, then he either pisses off a guy & baits him into a trap, or he chases down a guy named Di'Angio & smashes his car.
Upon Tanner's return, Rufus is shot by his girlfriend Jesse and Tanner chases her as she tries to escape in a monorail. Tanner turns her over to the police, and under interrogation she reveals that a guy named Castaldi is in San Francisco.
Tanner begins in San Francisco with a casino job for a bunch of gangsters who have heard he is in town. After this mission he meets an informant known as Mojo, who gives Tanner information about who Jean-Paul is really working for and a man named Rudi for money.
From here Tanner either aids in an exchange (passing a test whereby he has to pass through three destinations in a time limit before the pick-up for the exchange), drives stolen guns to a warehouse or aids in the robbery of a shopping mall. Following this, Tanner meets a legendary rival from their racing days called Slater. Tanner punches him but their rivalry is settled before Tanner either aids a gangster in scaring one of his former associates (who double-crossed him) by taking him on a bumpy taxi ride or takes heavy-duty explosives to an alleyway while evading large collisions in order to stop an explosion. If Tanner has scared the associate then he takes a local gangster called Cosy to a chopper taking him out of town, or if he has taken the explosives across town then Tanner aids a group of gangsters left in the lurch in Chinatown.
Tanner then gets a phone call whereby he learns that Mojo the informant has been kidnapped, and his captors want $10,000. They make Tanner work to save Mojo by forcing him to go to three phone booths in order to pick up instructions about where to go next. At the third phone booth Mojo is saved and the money exchanged. Mojo reveals that Castaldi (the gangster Jean-Paul is really working for) is working with a man called Don Hancock who is running for president. He also reveals Slater's great hatred for Tanner.
Following this Tanner is either setup by Slater and forced to evade cops as he heads home, or aids Castaldi in meeting one of his men called Ross and bringing him to an underground car park for a meeting. The rivalry between Tanner and Slater has become too bitter at this point, and when Tanner suspects Slater of spying on him, Tanner frames Slater by smashing his car in a chase, from which in the aftermath Slater is caught by the police.
Tanner begins his job in Los Angeles by either stealing a cop car for Castaldi's associates in order for future jobs or picking up an associate called Lucky and taking him to an assassination. Following this Tanner then either chases a double-crossing associate of Castaldi's called Duval and smashes him off the road or gets Castaldi's girlfriend Maya to a hospital after she has overdosed on drugs.
Following this Tanner learns of Castaldi's true purpose in Los Angeles: the carrying out of a hit on a security officer of the FBI called Bill Maddox outside Grauman's Chinese Theater. Tanner later meets with Leck, a partner from New York and alerts him to the assassination of Maddox. Tanner orders him to make sure Maddox turns up or otherwise his cover may be rumbled. He also warns him that there is an FBI leak giving information to Castaldi about Maddox's whereabouts and other pieces of interest. Tanner picks up the assassins from a parking garage before taking them to the Theatre, where the hit takes place. The cops spring an ambush on Tanner, who then takes the gangsters to a safehouse over at LAX. The gangsters are convinced that Tanner (The newest and therefore least trustworthy of the Castaldi Family) tipped off the cops, but he convinces them that Slater probably let the San Francisco Police know about the hit under interrogation.
Tanner survives, then either rescues Lucky from a gangster called Granger, helps some associates escape from a Beverly Hills job or tests the effectiveness of a safehouse by driving to it.
When Tanner arrives back in New York he begins by either making a switch at Grand Central Station (a briefcase for a key to a man in a Stetson hat) before getting double-crossed by the Stetson wearer or taking a very damaged car to a scrapyard for crushing before the cops can pick it up. Following this Tanner either takes control of a cop car to thwart a bank job by Granger's Gang and raise his suspicions about possible rats in the Gang, or gets some gangsters out of trouble after they were pinned down by cops in a building after a bad getaway job. After Leck tells Tanner that McKenzie wants him out, he either brings a cab home for further jobs in the city or destroys Granger's main car.
If the player takes out Granger's main car, then Tanner will have to wreck a car to retrieve photo negatives. If the player takes the cab, the main ending mission occurs, destroying four of Granger's Gang's cars before they reach Castaldi.
If the player chooses the alternative ending then Tanner meets with his associate from Los Angeles who again warns him that the boss wants him out because he is worried that Tanner's cover will not hold up much longer. Tanner again ignores this advice but tells the associate that he will let him know who the ultimate hit is on. If Tanner got the negatives, then Tanner's lady friend, Ali, will call for help and Tanner has to bail her out of a situation. If Tanner destroyes Granger's four cars, then Tanner goes through a "Rite of Passage", told over the phone by Castaldi that if he does not beat Slater's time across town under 7 minutes then Tanner is out of the final job.
If Tanner completes this mission (or goes for the main ending) then the final mission starts where Tanner learns that the hit is on the President of the United States. Tanner ignores all of Castaldi's instructions and take the President to safety. Tanner then takes the President to a parking garage to his safety. After this point, three different endings main appear:
Main Ending: Tanner drives into the parking garage having taken the President across town and evaded all attention from The Castaldi Crime Family and the Police. Tanner checks on the President's condition before Tanner's boss enters along with another unknown man, probably the President's security guard. Tanner's boss congratulates him and tells him that Castaldi, Don Hancock and the FBI leak are behind bars. He tells Tanner to take his badge back, but Tanner is infuriated that the FBI and police could be involved in the job, corrupted by bribes. He leaves the garage, ignoring his boss completely. Tanner then drives out of New York with Ali in the passenger seat (this time the background is a tunnel and then a highway).
Alternative Ending 1: Tanner drives into the parking garage having taken the President across town and evaded all attention from The Castaldi Crime Family and the Police. Tanner checks on the President's condition before Tanner's boss enters along with another unknown man, probably the President's security guard. Tanner's boss congratulates him and tells him that Castaldi, Don Hancock and the FBI leak are behind bars. He tells Tanner to take his badge back, but Tanner is infuriated that the FBI and police could be involved in the job, corrupted by bribes. He leaves the garage, ignoring his boss completely. He then drives on a highway out of New York City (though it looks like he is driving to Miami).
Alternative Ending 2: Tanner drives into the parking garage having taken the President across town and evaded all attention from The Castaldi Crime Family and the Police. Tanner checks on the President's condition before Tanner's boss enters along with another unknown man, probably the President's security guard. Tanner's boss congratulates him and tells him that Castaldi, Don Hancock and the FBI leak are behind bars. He tells Tanner to take his badge back, but Tanner is infuriated that the FBI and police could be involved in the job, corrupted by bribes. He leaves the garage, ignoring his boss completely. He then meets up with Ali, who is packing up a Jeep, and gives Tanner an envelope full of money she found in Handcock's safe. They then drive out of New York (this time the background is a tunnel and then a highway).
Development[edit | edit source]
The game was first announced in 1998. According to the game's creator, Martin Edmondson, the idea behind Driver was of a Destruction Derby, but enabling the player to drive in real roads and junctions, with traffic lights wich led the idea to create a car chase game with the feel of a 1970 car chase movie, complete with '70s based cars. Two of the game's artists travelled to the real locations where the game is based on to collect photographs and videos in order to recreate the cities in the game. Two synchronized videos were used, one pointing forwards out of the car window, and the second pointing sideways. The sideways camera was set up with a high shutter speed in order to provided the textures; while the forward facing camera used to give a better 3D view of how the buildings would fit together, and their general surroundings.
Also, a network play option was to be implemented in the PC version of the game, however it was later removed.
For more than ten years after the videogame's release, it was considered impossible to modify. Attempts to get images or models out of Driver came to no result - it had a poor fanbase to take off with modding. However, in 2009, a program was released that is capable exporting and re-importing images in the game. The program is called the Driver Texture Editor, and was created by a member of the Driver Madness forums. A couple members have both made their own Yellow and Black Buick GSXs, based on beta screenshots of Driver. This is one of very few tools available for Driver.
Reception and legacy[edit | edit source]
The game was very well received by the media. GameSpot said "Driver is a game that might be mediocre in its presentation but more than makes up for it in its gameplay and concept." Praising the music and sound, citing that "The '70s funk music really gives the game a gritty underworld feel that puts you in the mood for some lawbreaking action" while critizing the voice action. Gaming website IGN awarded the game 9.7 out of 10 and said it came "Reflections have taken the excellent ideas that were somehow restricted and linear in the Destruction Derby series, and have fleshed them out in a stylish driving game that's practically an entertainment center all its own." and called it "the most stunning racer on the system". Major critisim came from the difficulty of some missions, the difficulty to use the "Director's Mode" and some frame rate issues.
In 2002, IGN's editors ranked it as the 12th best PlayStation game ever. Writer Doug Perry said that "Driver became a product that not only pushed PlayStation to it's limits technically, but it also brought chaos and mayhem into a mission-based format that few people could resist."
Differences between versions[edit | edit source]
Though the basic gameplay & most of the missions remain the same, a few things have been changed between the PlayStation & PC versions. These include:
- Slight texture changes in the PC version.
- Different music in the PC version.
- Different cheats for both versions.
- Some different sound effects in the PC version, plus new cop voices.
- Ability to change cars at certain points in Undercover mode added to the PC version.
- In addition, one can also choose their vehicle for Take a Ride mode in the PC version after he/she beats the game.
In the Game Boy Color version, San Francisco is removed.
Awards[edit | edit source]
- E3 1999 Game Critics Awards: Best Racing Game
- Ranked #12 on IGN's list of the "Top 25 Games of All Time" for the first PlayStation console. 
References[edit | edit source]
|Driver: You Are the Wheelman | Driver 2 |Driv3r | Driver: Parallel Lines|
|Driver Vegas | Driver 76 | Driver L.A. Undercover|
|Officer Tanner | Detective Tobias Jones | Characters in Driver 2 | Characters in Driv3r | Characters in Driver: Parallel Lines