Utter the phrase "Driver, you are the wheelman" to PlayStation racing fanatics, and you'll be mopping the floor for a week. Part driving simulation and part felony, GT Interactive's Driver garnered worldwide success. From this popularity, Reflections and Infogrames bring unto the masses their Game Boy Color iteration, subtly titled Driver.
In Driver's conversion from 3D to 2D, obvious concessions were made. The Game Boy version has a top-down viewpoint. Car models and detail levels are reduced, and hills and inclines are no longer a problem. Despite all this, the GB version of Driver remains amazingly faithful to its PS cousin. There is a plethora of side-story driving games: the time-measured checkpoint run, the ever popular getaway mission, "a smash him until he's trashed" pursuit mission, and a high-anxiety survival mission. By partaking of these races, you'll train for the ultimate activity, the undercover missions. These undercover missions are your route from beginner street hustler to full-time kingpin. Just as in the PS version, for every bank job you complete, every shnook you thrash, and every storefront you destroy, you'll come one step closer to fulfilling your life of crime. With four cities and more than 40 missions, the game doesn't get old.
One might wonder why the game's feature set would get so much billing over the gameplay itself. The simple answer is: The gameplay is smooth. A accelerates, B puts you into reverse, and the directional pad steers the car. Try not to ram into too many cars, telephone booths, or store windows and you'll be fine. The missions are varied and driving is easy, if a bit unrealistic. Sure, pedestrian missions might have been nice, but this isn't Grand Theft Auto. Plus, the frame rate is much better here.
With a mention of frame rate, it looks as though it's time to talk about graphics. Well folks, Driver comes with good news and bad news. The good news: fast animation, a variety of cars, and highly detailed streets. The bad news: Everything is tiny. If you don't have any eyesight issues, this game's a hot ticket. There are at least ten different car models on every stage and a plethora of background objects to smash into. Also, streets are drawn with enough color so that you actually get a sense that you're right above the action. Granted, each car is only drawn with two or three colors, but the trade-off allows for a speedy frame rate, busy streets, and a greater feeling of excitement.
Although the game is worthy of praise for its gameplay and visuals, sound is where Driver gets kicked in the shins. There's about two background music tracks and six sound effects. As Sesame Street's Count would say, "Screech, that's one, ah ah ah. Vroom, that's two. Crash, that's three, ah ah ah. Broken Glass, that's four. Honking horn, that's five, ah ah ah. Siren, that's six, six resounding sound effects." They sound OK, and the music's catchy, but it's obvious which aspect of the game got the least storage resources. It's not as though handheld games usually excel in the area of sound, but the tradition is getting old.
Despite the aforementioned weaknesses in the sound department, Driver is smoothness personified. Driving around is fun and exciting, the levels are varied, and the side games really do improve your skill within the main game. Even without a battery save and a two-player feature, there's really nothing major to complain about.