For almost three decades, racing games have been one of the most popular videogame genres – but none more popular than Sony’s Gran Turismo series, which to date has sold roughly eight kajillion copies worldwide. “Gran Turismo” combines hundreds of real-life cars with real-world physics to provide an experience considerably more thrilling than that time you raced the old guy in the El Camino to the last parking spot in front of Target. (Let’s try to forget how he flipped you off after he won.) “Driven,” however, provides an experience considerably less thrilling than that time you raced to the bathroom after eating some really bad Mexican food. Or, to use a movie analogy, “Gran Turismo” is to “Driven” as “Star Wars” is to Battlefield Earth.
I can understand a game based on Gone in 60 Seconds – hell, I think a game would have been much better than the movie. I can also understand a game based on The Fast and the Furious – hell, I’m shocked no one’s done it yet. But Driven, a movie that confirmed Sly Stallone only had one good screenplay in him? Maybe BAM! got a good deal on the license–or maybe they didn’t realize what a horrible mistake they’d made until it was too late.
Not that the designers of “Driven” haven’t done what they could with the license: the game’s story mode freely borrows the “best” elements of the screenplay, and features a surprising amount of voice-over work from Stallone (who previously dabbled in the videogame world by filming exclusive scenes for the mediocre videogame based upon the mediocre “Demolition Man”). No, the designers’ mistake was in combining the horrible license with an equally horrible gameplay concept. Y’see, the problem with “Driven” – other than the close-up of Sly’s face on the box cover, which looks disturbingly like a close-up of Sloth from “The Goonies” – is that it merges arcade-style racing and real-world physics, the worst pairing since Sean Connery and Lorraine Bracco in “Medicine Man.” There are some great ideas here, such as the scenarios in which you’re blocking opponents for your teammate instead of trying to win the race, but they’re lost in the game’s constant conflict between reality and fantasy.
“Driven” is easily the worst racing game for the PlayStation 2, but that’s okay” – we need games this awful to remind us why games like “Gran Turismo” are so great. (Plus, writing nasty reviews is a lot of fun.)