It’s not just Hollywood that has an unhealthy fixation with conjuring up past glories; old vanguards de-mothballed and wheeled out into the sun, painted anew before being injected with some contemporary flair. Gaming, too, seems to be on a retro-vibe, resurrecting franchises long thought dead and buried, their fans now middle-aged men and women once shaped by these ancient icons; lost gods thought permanently dethroned from a lack of worship.
And make no mistake about it, people worshipped at the altar of Driver.
Ubisoft’s forgotten franchise was an instant hit when it careened onto our consoles back in 1999. It looks pretty awful by today’s haughty and anti-aliasing obsessed standards, but back then the pure joy Driver elicited from its many players from simply tearing around a city, launching through the air like General Lee without the inbreds on board, was intoxicating.
The giddiness invoked from the premise of a modern-day Driver comes from the promise such an endeavour entails. It’s like dreaming about what kind of space marine film James Cameron could make with modern technology, or how a Star Wars film might look now, crafted without the technical constraints of the late 70s (Eh …)
Matching Driver: San Francisco’s updated technical attributes on today’s more powerful hardware is an updated, if not entirely off-the-wall, concept. Set three months after the end of 2004’s Driv3r, good driver John Tanner and woman-driver* Charles Jericho are involved in a head-on smash on the Golden Gate Bridge (you may recall this from the E3 trailer this year). Falling into a coma, the game features Tanner racing around an Inception-esque dream-world in search of, we assume, fellow stubborn chicken-player, Jericho. As this is far from reality, Tanner can shift into any car he wants, as long as his shift meter is adequately charged, of course. Obviously Tanner hasn’t dared to dream bigger.
It’s different, we’ll give it that.
It’s been too long since the last good Driver game. Unfortunately, however, it looks like we’re going to have to wait a little bit longer to spin Driver’s top, as just like its futuristic stablemate, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, Driver: San Francisco has been stuck in Bay Area traffic until FY 2012.
*It’s a joke! Women drivers are awesome.