Driver 2: Back on the Streets (named Driver 2: The Wheelman Is Back in North America) is the second installment of the Driver video game series. It was developed by Reflections Interactive and published by Infogrames. A port to the Game Boy Advance, titled Driver 2 Advance, was released in 2002, being developed by Sennari Interactive and was released under Infogrames' Atari range of products.
|Driver 2: Back on the Streets|
Sennari Interactive (GBA)
|Platform(s)||PlayStation, Game Boy Advance|
Driver 2 expands on Driver's structure, as well as adding the ability of the character, Tanner, to step out of his car to explore on foot and commandeer other vehicles in the game's environments. The story missions are played separately from the Take-A-Ride Mode where the player can explore the cities in their own time.
Missions in the game are generally vehicle-oriented, and involve trailing witnesses, ramming cars and escaping from gangsters or cops. A cutscene is shown prior to almost every mission to help advance the storyline, and thus the game plays rather like a Hollywood-style car chase movie. Although Tanner can leave his car and interact with certain elements of the environment, all violence takes place during pre-rendered scenes.
The game begins in a bar in Chicago, where a man named Pink Lenny is talking to a tattooed Brazilian man. Two gangsters suddenly enter the bar and open fire on them. Lenny escapes, but the Brazilian man is killed. His body is later examined at a morgue by police officers John Tanner and Tobias Jones. The man’s tattoos indicate that he worked for Alvaro Vasquez, the leader of a Brazilian criminal organization. Tanner and Jones are sent undercover to discover Lenny’s involvement in the recent gang violence in Chicago.
They interrogate a witness to the bar shooting, who explains that Lenny used to work as a money launderer for Solomon Caine, a high-ranking mobster with operations based in Chicago and Las Vegas. Lenny has left Caine’s gang and made a deal with Vasquez, Caine’s greatest rival. Tanner and Jones later follow one of Vasquez’s men to a warehouse, where they find hardware that has been shipped from Cuba.
As both Caine and Vasquez will seek to exploit Lenny’s financial expertise for their operations, Tanner and Jones must find and apprehend Lenny before the gang violence goes out of control. The officers track Lenny to Havana, where Tanner disrupts Vasquez’s operations, but is too late to stop Lenny from leaving the city on a ship bound for San Diego, indicating that Vasquez's next target is Las Vegas.
Tanner later finds and captures Charles Jericho, one of Caine’s men, before traveling to Las Vegas with Jones to negotiate a truce with Caine. Caine assigns Jones to find Lenny while Tanner uses his driving skills to assist Caine’s operations in Las Vegas, eventually succeeding in destroying Vasquez’s supply depot. Soon after, Caine learns that both Lenny and Vasquez are in Rio de Janeiro.
After Caine arrives in Rio, Jones notes that Vasquez did not stop Caine from entering the city, despite monitoring the docks and airport. Tanner continues assisting Caine and disrupting Vasquez’s operations. Jones has managed to infiltrate Vasquez’s gang to gain more information about Vasquez and Lenny, but Tanner warns him that his cover will not last.
Tanner later learns that Vasquez has discovered Jones’ true identity and that Lenny is attempting to leave Rio by helicopter. After rescuing Jones, Tanner is forced by Caine to pick up Jericho before going to stop Lenny from escaping. Tanner and Jericho shoot down the helicopter before Tanner reveals his true colors to Jericho and goes after Lenny alone, arresting him after his helicopter eventually crashes.
After Tanner brings Lenny back to Chicago, it is revealed that Caine and Vasquez had been affiliated previously, due to bearing the same tattoos. Without Lenny, they reconcile in Rio.
A wide variety of cars can be found throughout the game. They are based on real life cars like Chevys, Fords, GMC and more. All the cars can be driven and there are also hidden cars around the cities that can be found. A unique feature about the cars is that hubcaps will fly off. The hubcaps fly off less than in the previous game, which makes it more realistic.
Driver 2 includes four cities, which are notably larger than the original game. The cities are Chicago and Havana, which are both immediately open for 'TAKE A RIDE' mode; Las Vegas, which can only be accessed once missions are complete for the first two cities; and Rio de Janeiro, only accessible after completing the Las Vegas missions. The cities all have secret cars hidden within them, which become available once the player finds the buttons to unlock the entries to where the cars are located and then approaches the cars to unlock them. The cities include many of their respective landmarks, such as the Navy Pier, Field Museum of Natural History, Buckingham Fountain, Harold Washington Library, Willis Tower (at the time known as Sears Tower), Marina City, Wrigley Building and Wrigley Field in Chicago; Havana's Plaza de la Revolución, José Martí Memorial, Hotel Nacional de Cuba, FOCSA Building, La Cabaña, Castillo de la Real Fuerza and El Capitolio; recreations of the hotels on the Las Vegas Strip including Luxor Las Vegas, Excalibur Hotel and Casino, New York-New York Hotel and Casino, Paris Las Vegas; and the Corcovado, Christ the Redeemer and some other known landmarks of Rio.
The game was first released on the PlayStation video game console and was later ported to Nintendo's Game Boy Advance. Because the game was so long, and cutscene graphics were somewhat advanced for that of the PlayStation era, the game was released on two discs. The first disc contained data for Chicago and Havana, while the second disc contained data for Las Vegas and Rio.
The GBA version was significantly condensed from its counterpart on the PlayStation, due to memory limitations. Of the four cities in the PS1 version (Chicago, Havana, Las Vegas, and Rio), only Chicago and Rio are present, and the storyline is simplified to just these two cities, either omitting the other two cities' missions or transplanting them into the two that actually appear in the game.
In-game cinematics are replaced with slideshows that feature a text crawl for dialogue, with occasional sound clips (such as gunshots or police sirens) added for atmosphere. The graphics are also rendered in polygon shapes, with tiny, simplistic 2D sprites for pedestrians. Certain animations such as Tanner going in and out of vehicles are also omitted, and a number of AI scripts, such as roadblocks that appear when the police chase the player, are axed. However, the police still utilise voice clips from the PS1 version when chasing Tanner, even using dialogue in Portuguese for the police of Rio de Janeiro. The licensed music is also replaced with a number of instrumental tunes composed for the game.
In a move similar to the first game, Driver 2 featured a soundtrack reminiscent of typical 1970s car movies, containing instrumental funk and boogie tracks as well as more popular songs by artists and composers, to further emphasise the retro feel of the game. The original music was composed by Allister Brimble.
Background music for each city seems to match both with the car-chasing movie music and the predominant music styles of each city, for example, Havana BGM seems to be influenced by the Son cubano, Vegas BGM sounds with influences of North America's Western music and Rio BGM is influenced by samba, bossanova and Forró.
Cars in the levels themselves have approximately 5 or 6 seconds of looped music, in Chicago it is Rock/Electro Beat style, Havana is Jazz-funk, Las Vegas is Funk/Soul and Rio is Drum & Bass.
The licensed songs featured in the game (as listed in the credits) are given below:
- "Fever" by Dust Junkys- The first cutscene in Las Vegas with the trucks pulling into the gas station.
- "In the Basement" by Etta James- in a bar in Las Vegas where Tanner and Jones shoot pool.
- "Help Me" by Sonny Boy Williamson- Tanner arrives back at his apartment and confronts Jericho.
- "Sitting Here Alone" by Hound Dog Taylor- The opening scene of the game at the Red River bar.
- "Just Dropped In" by Kenny Rogers & The First Edition- Plays over the end credits of the game.
- "Lacrimosa" by Mozart- The climactic scene in Rio at the base of the statue of Christ the Redeemer.
GameSpot concluded that the PlayStation version of Driver 2 is "an extraordinary game". GamesRadar said, "it's not the fastest wheel screecher on the market but still impresses." Happy Puppy said the PS version "offers more of the same things that made the original a great game" but added that it "doesn't push the series much further."
In a mixed review, IGN described the PlayStation version as "one of the most disappointing games, if not the most disappointing game, of 2000". Hot Games asked, "How could Reflections screw this up so bad? Driver 2 is a pale reflection (har har) of the original."
The game's PlayStation version received a "Platinum" sales award from the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA), indicating sales of at least 300,000 copies in the United Kingdom.
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