|Driver 2: Back on the Streets|
|Developer(s)||Reflections Interactive (PlayStation), Sennari Interactive (Game Boy Advance)|
|Platform(s)||PlayStation, Game Boy Advance|
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 was released in 2002, being developed by Sennari Interactive.
Driver 2 expands on Driver's 3-D, free-roam 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 open world 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 with an introduction showing a man named Pink Lenny and a tattooed Brazilian talking in a bar. Lenny is telling the Brazilian a story about how he really scared someone one time ("You should've seen the look on the guy's face"). Suddenly, two men burst in with guns and kill everyone in the room, except for Lenny, who slips out the back.
Later, undercover police officer John Tanner, recruited by the FBI after arresting Senator Ballard, and his partner, Tobias Jones, examine the body of the Brazilian at the morgue. The police captain informs Tanner and Jones of Lenny's disappearance and of the only witness of the attack. Tanner and Jones apprehend the witness, who tells them that the gunmen weren't after the Brazilian but were after Lenny, who is actually a money launderer working for Solomon Caine, one of the high ranking mobsters of Chicago whose empire goes from Chicago to Las Vegas.
However, Jones suspects that the Brazilian was working for Alvaro Vazquez, another high ranking mobster who is one of Caine's rivals. If Lenny was talking with the Brazilian, he may have switched sides. Tanner and Jones investigate a warehouse owned by Vazquez, but it turns out that the police were raiding the warehouse and Tanner and Jones split up to escape the cops, though not before discovering that the forged documents in the craters came from Cuba.
When Tanner returns to his apartment, he is hit in the face by an assailant (one of the shooters from the bar), who escapes down the fire escape. Tanner gives chase, but it turns out it was a trap set by Caine, who believes Tanner is a hired thug (Not remembering him from years earlier) trying to take over his business with information from Lenny. While Caine's bodyguard, Jericho, drags Tanner away for execution, Tanner hits him in the face and escapes Caine's compound. Meanwhile, Jones gets the Brazilians after him by his own investigations; this, along with Caine becoming aware of Tanner's pursuit of Lenny, force Tanner and Jones to flee Chicago. On Tanner's suggestion, they head for Havana to follow the Cuban shipment trail.
Tanner and Jones learn that Vazquez is using Havana as the frontier for his arms operations, and plans to use Lenny's contacts to flood Chicago with guns and take over Caine's business. Tanner and Jones hinder Vazquez's arms operations in Havana, and also discover that Lenny is going to be leaving the city in a ship called Rosanna Soto. Tanner attempts to intercept the ship to arrest Lenny, but he is too late.
Afterwards, Tanner learns from Jones that Jericho has arrived in Havana and plans to kill all of Lenny's men at a hotel in Central Havana. Tanner and Jones follow Jericho to the hotel, where Tanner is unable to prevent Jericho from killing the men, but nonetheless rams Jericho off the road in a chase. Tanner and Jericho then form a truce, hiding from the Brazilians and head to Vegas to meet Caine.
When Lenny arrives in Vegas, he is greeted by Vazquez, who is overseeing the arms shipments and is taking over Lenny's contacts after Lenny's failure in Havana. Tanner, Jones and Jericho arrive in Vegas and meet Caine. Tanner infiltrates Caine's gang by telling Caine that Jones and him once worked for Lenny but were betrayed and want revenge. Caine assigns Jones to track down Lenny while Tanner will use his driving skills to assist Caine's Vegas operations.
Tanner completes the tasks given to him by Caine, including delivering a car bomb to Vasquez's casino in Vegas and assisting Caine's henchmen in a bank robbery. Jones, infiltrating Vasquez's mob, discovered that Lenny has left Vegas and Tanner had to transport him to the airport (after shaking off a police ambush and subsequent chase). Caine then had Tanner disrupt Vasquez's operations by destroying his main front in North Vegas, and destroyed the trucks containing Vasquez's weapons. Caine and his henchmen brutally interrogates one of the Brazilian guards and learn that Vasquez (and Lenny) are in Rio.
Tanner, Jericho, and Caine meet Jones in Rio, despite Jones telling Caine that it is too dangerous for him to be in the city. Caine dismisses his warnings and only concern himself to find Lenny. Tanner still uses his driving skills to assist Caine and disrupt Vasquez's activities, such as ramming a stolen bus into the Brazilians' cars and tricking the Brazilians into giving Tanner cash for Caine.
Around this time, however, Tanner is worried that Jones's cover is deteriorating and that Vasquez will figure out that Jones is supposedly working for Caine. Tanner only gives Jones four days to find out the information where Lenny is before Tanner heads off to destroy a boat transporting Vasquez's weapons to Chicago. Jones later calls Tanner, telling him that Vasquez has sent a gunman to kill Jones, forcing Tanner to save him. Tanner arrives at Jones' place to find him wounded and the gunman still lurking around. The gunman flees and Tanner rams him off the cliff of the coastal route.
With time running out and Vasquez losing, Caine finally found out that Lenny is attempting to escape Rio. Tanner is forced to pick up Jericho before heading to Lenny's location. The two manage to shoot down the helicopter Lenny is in when Tanner reveals his true colours to Jericho. Leaving Jericho behind, Tanner chases Lenny's helicopter through the streets of Rio while evading Caine's henchmen. The helicopter finally crashes and Tanner quickly disarms Lenny before beating him to submission.
Jones and Tanner escort Lenny back to Chicago and hand him over to the police captain seen in the introduction. When the police captain asks Tanner what the connection was between Caine and Vasquez, Tanner only replied: "Took me a long time to figure that out". It is revealed that the two had been affiliated in the past and are shown to have reconciled with each other before the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio.
As Tanner drives away from the airport, a car starts to follow him.
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, 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 the first two cities, and the second disc contained data for the last two cities.
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 de Janeiro), only Chicago and Rio de Janeiro 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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