The Italian Job Preview
We take a look at the PlayStation 2 version of Eidos' game based on the Mark Wahlberg and Edward Norton flick.
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Last year, Rockstar Games released The Italian Job, a budget-priced mission-based driving game for the PlayStation and PC that was based on the 1969 crime-caper film of the same name starring Michael Caine. This year, Paramount Pictures released a remake of The Italian Job movie, starring Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, and Edward Norton. So to follow up on the remake, Eidos Interactive will release a video game version of The Italian Job that is based on the new movie. The game is being developed by Climax Entertainment, and it has little in common with the previous The Italian Job game, save for its mission-based-driving style of gameplay and, well, the fact that it's based on a movie called The Italian Job. We recently had a chance to check out the latest build of The Italian Job for the PlayStation 2 to see how the game is shaping up.
The story of The Italian Job follows the plot of the new movie fairly closely, with a few new minor twists and turns to try to make the plot more conducive to a gaming experience. You play as Charlie Croker, a former convict who, along with his crack team of professional thieves, has been double-crossed out of millions of dollars in gold by a former associate. As the game begins, Charlie has concocted a scheme to triple-cross his former friend by trapping him in the largest traffic jam in Los Angeles history, stealing the gold from him, and then using Mini Coopers to escape via the sidewalks before traffic can untangle itself.
As stated previously, The Italian Job is a mission-based driving game. All the game's missions essentially involve you driving one of a number of vehicles around Los Angeles, performing tasks that lead up to the eventual gold robbery and escape. All the missions are timed, and they generally range from transporting equipment and members of your party to specific locations to tailing and surveillance operations. You'll also be given specific cars to drive around in, depending on the mission. More often than not, you'll be driving one of the game's oft-promoted Mini Coopers, but some missions will require you to roll in a muscle car, a rented sedan, a delivery truck, or a cable installation van, just to name a few.
Aside from the game's story mode, there are a couple of other gameplay options to choose from in The Italian Job. One is a race mode, where you select one of the cars you've unlocked and race against three opponent vehicles in one of eight available courses. Up to two players can race against one another in the race mode. The other is a stunt mode, where you take your car through a series of stunt courses that require you to make sharp turns, jump large gaps, and maintain a steady course across narrow bridges. Both of these modes are fairly simplistic and should be easy to master in a reasonably short amount of time.
Graphically, The Italian Job is looking solid, if slightly uninspired. Technically, the game is quite sound, without any frame rate or clipping issues to speak of. The city environments you drive around in are fairly large, with lots of little shortcuts and hidden routes to explore, and they're all designed pretty well. The car models are all good looking as well, though they aren't nearly as flashy as the cars in other recent driving games. The game's audio is about what you'd expect, with lots of screeching tires, honking horns, and loud car crashes. The story mode is narrated by the Charlie Croker character, but the voice work appears to have been provided by an unknown voice actor, rather than Mark Wahlberg.
As of right now, The Italian Job seems like a decent driving game that doesn't contain a lot of depth. There isn't much to the game's missions, and the race and stunt modes don't currently present any sort of long-term challenge either. Hopefully there's still more content to come for The Italian Job, which hits store shelves for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox later this month and for the GameCube in July. Expect a full review of the game in the coming weeks.