Essentially, where Driver PL falls down is the quality of the missions, and various curious design decisions that don't help endear you to the game. For a start, the first few hours of the game are just plain dull. At a point when the game should be ensuring players are hooked in, you're performing perfunctory tasks which we've all done to death. And then, even when the game gets into its stride, it just doesn't quite 'click'. The moment when you're ramming a bulldozer into a prison ought to feel like a thrilling, filmic game moment, but there's just no danger or tension to it. You get inside the jail, take out some obliging bad guys, and that's that.
Elsewhere you'll find yourself driving at high speed to scare a guard into giving you info - which is initially amusing - but, again, most missions are over and done with in no time at all, and there's little sense of achievement once you've done them. You're either racing or chasing, and after a while the over-emphasis on driving-based missions starts to wear thin. Also, as nice as it is being able to restart failed missions and relocate around specific sections of the map, there's far too much unnecessary driving required to get between missions. Often, your next mission will be on the opposite side of the city - or, at best, several minutes from the nearest garage or safe house. It's not a disaster, by any means, but when you're already struggling to maintain an interest in the game, the last thing you really want to have to do is spend ages checking the map screen to work out which bridge to cross to get there.
Additional elements, like the various side missions and the car customisation also fail to inspire much love for the game. Like many games of this type, you're crashing your ride so much, you'll be stealing someone else's in no time anyway, so it seems all a bit half baked and tacked on. Having additional racing missions and so on adds the illusion of it being a big, non-linear game, but it's the sort of stuff most people will ignore anyway.
Rip her to shreds
And let's come back to the point we made early on: the game's already a year and a half old, and was made late in the life span of already-ageing systems. Needless to say, the game engine looks hopelessly out of date next to other competing games, and it's quite jarring to have to go back to playing a game with noticeable pop-up issues, and one with none of the modern graphical effects we now take for granted. Of course, it's unfair to stab a finger in the direction of a Wii game for not sporting HD resolutions, but it's a factor that's impossible to ignore. If the game was designed from the ground up for the Wii, we dare say that it would look an order of magnitude better than it does. Instead, you're left to reflect upon a fairly run-of-the-mill PS2 port, with poorly animated characters and ugly detail levels.
Even the audio quality is poor, with voice-over samples that sound like the sort of thing you'd expect from a PSP title trying to save disk space. Yes, it sounded fine in GTA III in 2001, but if it's a stylistic choice to have low grade voice-over samples in 2007, then it's a poor one. That said, we must applaud those responsible for the relentlessly funky soundtrack. Admittedly it lacks the general DJ chatter of its rivals, but for track-to-track quality, this takes some beating. Special mention has to go choosing 'I Bet You' by Funkadelic - what an absolutely top tune! I think I was motivated to keep playing the game on the basis of the soundtrack alone, with other great tracks like Peaches and Papa Was a Rolling Stone adding to the 70s vibe. Shame the Kaiser Chiefs go and spoil the party in the second half of the game, mind you.
If you happen to own a Wii and nothing else, then maybe Driver Parallel Lines will scratch your GTA itch for a few days - maximum. The truth is that there's more than a whiff of exploitation about this wholly unnecessary release - especially as it's a game which few people rated highly in the first place. Although it does benefit from better controls, that doesn't disguise how boring the storyline is, or how mediocre the missions are. Do yourself a favour and wait until publishers can get around to making games exclusively tailored for the Wii, rather than shovelling out old ports and hoping no-one will notice.
6 / 10