Driver: Parallel Lines

Your TK, a young gun crack shot driver in the 70’s out to make a buck with your uncanny wheelman abilities. You get hired to run odd jobs by a local pimp which leads to bigger things as bigger names get involved to acquire your services. And wouldn’t you know that when you hit your prime, the very people who hire you turn on you and you get sent to jail for over 20 years? So naturally when you get out, you’re looking for revenge.
Sounds like a good concept for a movie script, but that’s really the plotline for Driver: Parallel Lines. As TK, you work your way up doing odd jobs that involve a lot of driving and a little shooting, sometimes both together. The twist in the game is the different time lines. You start out in the hip 70s, and halfway through your boss turns on you and you get sent to jail, and when you get released over 20 years later in the year 2006, you plot revenge on your former friends & bosses by sabotaging their various business and such before ultimately taking them out yourself.
As I noted in my First Look at the game a while back, the game has a great concept, but it’s more or less ruined by some bad control issues and some general problems I had with the game altogether.
Like I already said, the concept of the game switching from the70s to 2006 was an interesting twist, and you can see the various changes in the city they made to differentiate the time lines too. The graphics are great for both time lines with a wide assortment of cars to jack, steal, race and cause havoc in the streets with. The in game character designs are OK, and it has some of the best voice acting you’ll can hear in a game. But I didn’t like the music in the game as they mostly sound annoying and forgettable even if it is licensed and they have tunes fitting to their respective era.
There are still some big gameplay problems like I mentioned before. There aren’t a lot of on-foot missions, but where there is are soured by clunky controls and an auto-aim feature that doesn’t really help you as it’ll just lock on to the closest target instead of those that are deemed a threat, like instead of aiming at the guy shooting at you, you’ll aim the closest car since you can shoot and blow up cars. And for some reason, the bad guys NEVER miss! Even in car chases you can be speeding down the streets like crazy, but watch helplessly as your life meter drains to the point that you die in the driver’s seat from being shot at by pursuing enemies.
There’s also the point of getting paid when you complete your missions. You DON’T get paid even though in the story that’s supposed to be how you make your fortune. Instead you run around looking for races and such to make a quick buck to upgrade your vehicles, though you could probably get by the game without needing any money as only certain missions require you to have an upgraded vehicle or something.
Overall, there are still a lot of improvements they could make for this game. This series might have a long rivalry with the GTA series of games, but it’ll still be a long way before the Driver series can overtake GTA as king of the open world driving games.

Graphics – 9
Sound – 7
Gameplay – 6
Lifespan – 6
Overall – 6


Art of Fighting: Ten Chi Jin

SNK's Art of Fighting game series probably doesn't get the recognition it deserves for the new ground it broke in fighting games, which includes being the first to implement a camera that zooms in on the action when the fighters where near each other, and zoom out when they backed away from each other, an emphasis on taunts to drain your enemies chi meter, and the use of chi to pull of special moves, as the use of super finisher moves like giant fireballs. And of course they sort of started the juggle combo system as well as fixed combo system most fighting games use today.

The games were usually hit or miss depending on whether you could get used to the gameplay and heavy feel of the characters, and if you've never played the games before either cause they were never available at your local arcade or you couldn't afford an uber expensive Neo Geo home gaming system, you have your chance now as SNK Playmore are releasing a collection of all 3 games in the series on PS2.

Art of Fighting: Ten Chi Jin contains arcade perfect port overs of all 3 Art of Fighting games in all their 2D glory with no noticeable changes to the look or sound of any of the games other than a minimal load time in between battles. The only thing that I would have to complain about is how the PS2 controller isn’t very user friendly to pulling off some of the special moves. If you have an arcade joystick, your all set. If not, you might have a good reason to get one now if you already haven’t seeing how the PS2 controller issue has been plaguing 2D fighters on the system for a long time now.
Another small thing I wish they would standardize for fighting games is the quick continue option, so you don’t have to waste time waiting for the character select screen to load when you lose and use a continue, than have to wait for the whole fight to load again.

Bottomline, if you’re a fan of the series, this is a definite must have game. You don’t get any additional bonuses like a gallery or anything other than a color edit option, and of course there are the control issues I’ve already mentioned, but this is still an enjoyable nostalgic romp back to the days when 2D fighting was king (No, not the female kickboxer in the game).

Graphics – 9
Sound – 10
Gameplay – 7
Lifespan – 7
Overall – 7