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Driven

Review By:  Jared Black

Developer:  Crawfish
Publisher:  BAM!
# of Players:  1-4
Genre:  Racing
GCN Link:  No
ESRB:  Everyone
Date Posted:  1-12-02

Driven was a terrible movie, and the PS2 game bearing the same name was even worse in comparison. While it was technically sound (but not spectacular), some questionable design decisions and a lethal combination of sim and arcade aspects resulted in a big unplayable mess. Luckily for GBA owners, this version is a whole lot better than that wreck, but itís not without itís own problems.

The main reason that this version succeeds where itís PS2 brethren fails is because it keeps things simple and focused. Gone are any attempts at making a sim (unless you count actually having to use the brakes), and instead Crawfish focused on making a pure arcade racer. In fact, the only real similarity that this version shares is that itís based off of the same subject material. On the GBA, Driven is a top-down racing game with simple controls Ė A is the gas, B works the brake, and the d-pad steers your car. As you bump into things, parts of your car will go flying off. Take too much damage, and your car crashes forcing you to wait a few precious seconds before a new one is placed on the track. Gameplay-wise, thatís really all there is to it.

And yet, at the same time this is a fairly deep game thanks to the varied gameplay modes and the "Zone" feature. It has all the modes youíd expect to find in a game of this nature (Arcade, Single Race, Testing Session, Multiplayer via Link Cable, and Championship (w/ battery save). These all provide depth (especially the different multiplayer options for one or multiple carts), but the one mode that really stands out is the Story Mode. Itís much the same as the PS2 versionís, in that youíll have to complete a variety of tasks to advance the story. These can range from things as simple as completing a lap in a certain amount of time while collection coins to racing against an arch-rival through the streets at night. Providing different goals (which donít always involve finishing first) adds a lot of strategy and depth to an otherwise simple game.

The Zone feature works a lot like the PS2 version, but for once thatís a good thing. If you race well for an extended amount of time, eventually your zone meter will fill up and youíll enter the "zone". Once there, your car becomes engulfed in flames and your driving abilities improve dramatically. Itís a temporary boost, but one that can mean the difference between victory and defeat. My only complaint with it is that it seems to only track speed (and not damage) when determining when the player enters the "zone", but itís still a great addition to the game.

Graphically, Driven shines. Crawfish continues to impress graphically on the GBA with some very detailed courses that still run at breakneck speed. Objects are found all over the side of each course that includes individual people cheering the player on. Car sprites are detailed enough for a racing game of this type, but are a bit small due to the overhead perspective. When a car crashes, the game truly shines as many (albeit generic looking) parts of that car will go flying and rolling down the track. Unfortunately this graphical splendor comes at a price, as the framerate will drop frequently (even when the player is the only car on the screen) and very noticeably. This never interferes with the actual gameplay, but itís nevertheless distracting.

The sound is nothing to write home about. The music is cheesy, but that can be forgiven since the movie itself was. The sound effects are merely average for a GBA title; definitely better than a GBC game but not on par with a lot of other notable GBA efforts.

Highs:

  • Outstanding graphics.
  • The game is super-fast, and provides an alternative to all of the Mode-7 racers currently on the market.
  • Itís much better than the PS2 version, and will appeal to fans of the movie.

Lows:

  • Over-head perspective is definitely an acquired taste, as it requires different steering and driving techniques than most racers. If you disliked games like RC Pro-Am, you wonít like this.
  • Framerate problems throughout the game, although they never interfere with actual gameplay.

Final Verdict:

If youíre tired of Mode-7 racers and want a Micro Machines/RC Pro-Am type racer for your GBA, or if youíre a big fan of the movie, then this is a good game to pick up.

Overall Score: 6.6

Additional Images:

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