Driver (known as Driver: You Are the Wheelman in the US), is a 1999 Action driving video game developed by Reflections Interactive (now known as Ubisoft Reflections), who had earlier hits with Destruction Derby on the early years of the PlayStation. It is the first game in the Driver series.
Tanner, an NYPD detective gone undercover due to his impressive driving skills, must gain the confidence of the syndicate's bosses by performing increasingly difficult missions such as stopping or following another car, driving through windows, delivering a stolen car or scaring a taxi customer. The game is played in four cities—(Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City)—which, like many games, remain only partially faithful to the original city layouts but notably featured them as explorable open world environments.
The game was designed to mimic '60s and '70s car chase movies. The title and the basic theme seem to be heavily inspired by the 1978 film The Driver by director Walter Hill. Most notably, the Training level at the beginning of the game is a copy of a scene in the movie in which the Driver proves his skills to some gangsters in a parking garage. The music, overall character design in the cut scenes, and the cars themselves (complete with flying hubcaps), are inspired from movies such as Bullitt and even TV shows such as Starsky and Hutch. The game also features a Director's Mode, where the run could be replayed with cameras chosen by the player, and a Quick Replay, where the cameras were automatically selected.
In addition to the Undercover mode, the player also had an option to drive around in the cities (once they were unlocked) and dirt tracks. There were several other modes, like pursuit, escape, checkpoint, and carnage (inflicting as much damage as possible). After the game was finished (or secret passwords inserted in the records screens), several cheats were available. Among them are: skipping the garage mission, give (among others) the car super speed, immunity to police cars, invincibility, or a short ride on Newcastle, Reflections' home town. However some editions of the game do not show this.
Initially, it was only released for PlayStation; Windows and Mac ports were released less than a year later. A special Game Boy Color version was released, with top-down view, and only three cities (San Francisco was removed), and fewer missions. There is also an iPhone/iPod Touch version available.
In the beginning cutscene, you see a dripping pipe and Tanner comes out of an elevator, walks through a parking garage and gets into a 1967 Ford Mustang. He hotwires the Mustang and starts to drive to the exit of the garage, until he is spotted by the police and initiates a chase in which another car crashes into a parked one. Tanner gets away through the barrier after the police car also hits another car.
Before starting the actual undercover mode, Tanner and Lt. McKenzie are talking about a guy named Rufus. In order to find out more about him, Tanner must give up his status as a cop and go undercover. Tanner has to prove to very lowly gangsters in a parking garage that he can do jobs for them by demonstrating his skills while keeping the car intact. Success means access to the first mission in Miami.
Tanner begins his missions in a Miami motel room.
Tanner begins with a lowly bank job carried out by a man named Art and his associates, before being called up to either drive a stolen car to a yard for a respray or helping a lowly gangster called Tico carry out an assassination. If Tanner takes the stolen car mission he works for Art in exchanging a briefcase for a key, but ends up being double-crossed and forced to chase the double-crosser across Miami Bay. If Tanner takes Tico for a ride then Tanner cleans up after a driver left a stolen car and its occupants in the lurch.
Tanner then talks to a pimp named Rufus who reveals that he is busting out an associate of his called Jean-Paul from an armoured police car. When Tanner carries this out, he either smashes a group of restaurants for a gangster who has found one of his associates lacking in paying for protection money, or drives an extremely fast car to safety for a gangster who needs the car for a job. After this Tanner is forced to pick up a supply of drugs for an operation and get home with the goods.
Upon Tanner's return, Rufus is shot by his girlfriend Jesse and Tanner chases her as she tries to escape in a monorail. Tanner turns her over to the police, and under interrogation she reveals that a guy named Castaldi is in San Francisco.
Tanner begins in San Francisco with a casino job for a bunch of gangsters who have heard he is in town. After this mission he meets an informant known as Mojo, who gives Tanner information about who Jean-Paul is really working for and a man named Rudi for money.
From here Tanner either aids in an exchange (passing a test whereby he has to pass through three destinations in a time limit before the pick-up for the exchange), drives stolen guns to a warehouse or aids in the robbery of a shopping mall. Following this, Tanner meets a legendary rival from their racing days called Slater. Tanner punches him but their rivalry is settled before Tanner either aids a gangster in scaring one of his former associates (who double-crossed him) by taking him on a bumpy taxi ride or takes heavy-duty explosives to an alleyway while evading large collisions in order to stop an explosion. If Tanner has scared the associate then he takes a local gangster called Cosy to a chopper taking him out of town, or if he has taken the explosives across town then Tanner aids a group of gangsters left in the lurch in Chinatown.
Tanner then gets a phone call whereby he learns that Mojo the informant has been kidnapped, and his captors want $10,000. They make Tanner work to save Mojo by forcing him to go to three phone booths in order to pick up instructions about where to go next. At the third phone booth Mojo is saved and the money exchanged. Mojo reveals that Castaldi (the gangster Jean-Paul is really working for) is working with a man called Don Hancock who is running for president. He also reveals Slater's great hatred for Tanner.
Following this Tanner is either setup by Slater and forced to evade cops as he heads home, or aids Castaldi in meeting one of his men called Ross and bringing him to an underground car park for a meeting. The rivalry between Tanner and Slater has become too bitter at this point, and when Tanner suspects Slater of spying on him, Tanner frames Slater by smashing his car in a chase, from which in the aftermath Slater is caught by the police.
LA is straightforward, and all missions are at night. Tanner begins his job here by either stealing a cop car for Castaldi's associates in order for future jobs or picking up an associate called Lucky and taking him to an assassination. Following this Tanner then either chases a double-crossing associate of Castaldi's called Duval and smashes him off the road or gets Castaldi's girlfriend Maya to a hospital after she has overdosed on drugs.
Following this Tanner learns of Castaldi's true purpose in Los Angeles: the carrying out of a hit on a security officer of the FBI called Bill Maddox outside Grauman's Chinese Theater. Tanner later meets with Leck, a partner from New York and alerts him to the assassination of Maddox. Tanner orders him to make sure Maddox turns up or otherwise his cover may be rumbled. He also warns him that there is an FBI leak giving information to Castaldi about Maddox's whereabouts and other pieces of interest. Tanner picks up the assassins from a parking garage before taking them to the Theatre, where the hit takes place. The cops spring an ambush on Tanner, who then takes the gangsters to a safehouse over at LAX. The gangsters are convinced that Tanner (The newest and therefore least trustworthy of the Castaldi Family) tipped off the cops, but he convinces them that Slater probably let the San Francisco Police know about the hit under interrogation.
Tanner survives, then either rescues Lucky from a gangster called Granger, helps some associates escape from a Beverly Hills job or tests the effectiveness of a safehouse by driving to it.
New York City
When Tanner arrives back in New York he begins by either making a switch at Grand Central Station (a briefcase for a key to a man in a Stetson hat) before getting double-crossed by the Stetson wearer or taking a very damaged car to a scrapyard for crushing before the cops can pick it up. Following this Tanner either takes control of a cop car to thwart a bank job by Granger's Gang and raise his suspicions about possible rats in the Gang, or gets some gangsters out of trouble after they were pinned down by cops in a building after a bad getaway job. After Leck tells Tanner that McKenzie wants him out, he either brings a cab home for further jobs in the city or destroys Granger's main car.
If you took out Granger's main car, then Tanner will have to wreck a car to retrieve photo negatives. If you took the cab, the bad ending mission occurs, destroying four of Granger's Gang's cars before they reach Castaldi.
If the bad ending is being activated (or the good ending mission is completed) then Tanner meets with his associate from Los Angeles who again warns him that the boss wants him out because he is worried that Tanner's cover will not hold up much longer. Tanner again ignores this advice but tells the associate that he will let him know who the ultimate hit is on. If you got the negatives, then Tanner's lady friend Ali will call for help and Tanner has to bail her out of a situation. If you destroyed Granger's four cars, then Tanner goes through a "Rite of Passage", told over the phone by Castaldi that if he does not beat Slater's time across town (7 minutes) then Tanner is out of the final job.
If Tanner completes this mission (or goes for the good ending) then the final mission starts where Tanner learns that the hit is on the President of the United States of America. Tanner is forced (in the hardest mission of the game) to ignore all of Castaldi's instructions and take the President to safety. With a little luck, Tanner takes the President to his parking garage to eventual safety. -
In a nod to the city where Reflections Interactive is based, and using a Gameshark or Codebreaker (Or after completing the game in the PC version), players can unlock the city of Newcastle upon Tyne for play. However, the drivable area is very small and can be glitchy around the barriers.
There is an app on iTunes of this game. It is $0.99 as of date.
Reception and Awards
The first Driver game was met with very positive feedback and critical acclaim, unlike its sequels (Driver 2 garnered mixed reviews at best, and Driv3r was met with a very poor critical reception). IGN gave the game a score of 9.7 and Gamespot gave it a score of 8.6.
- E3 1999 Game Critics Awards: Best Racing Game
- Ranked #12 on IGN's list of the "Top 25 Games of All Time" for the first PlayStation console.
Nevertheless, PlayStation version suffers from some glitches, that his developers acknowledge and justify because the game was pushing the boundaries of the hardware