Driver: Parallel Lines
Atari | PS2, Xbox
The setup: Ditching the series' cop-hero Tanner, Parallel Lines is the story of The Kid, an up-and-coming getaway driver in 1978 New York who falls in with a bad crowd. After he's framed and sent to prison, the plot turns into a murder-revenge story when he regains his freedom in 2006 and sets out to murder the ones who wronged him.
The rides: A bunch of era-appropriate muscle machines. We especially like the 1970s cars, as their powerful engines pack a roaring, visceral kick that lets us know this game was created by true car fetishists.
The violence: Fairly low-key, but the game does have its share - particularly when the second half begins and The Kid sets out on a quest for bloody revenge after he's freed from prison. The actual gunplay wouldn't be half-bad if it was a little more discriminating about whom you were locked onto.
Why it beats GTA: Your customizable cars can be recovered even after you've trashed or abandoned them, which is nice, and the driving feels tighter and more visceral than GTA's. The '70s vibe and soundtrack in the game's first half is cool, and this might be the only car-crime game that lets you tear around in the same city in two distinctly different time periods - 1978 and 2006.
Why it'll never beat GTA: While GTA has been largely kept afloat all this time with sharp writing and a clever sense of humor, Driver takes itself - and its bland story - way too seriously. So do the police, and you'll constantly have to deal with them trying to kill you for speeding. And even when you're out of the car, running around on foot feels clunky as hell.
Can it survive? The Driver series really peaked with the first game, and Parallel Lines wasn't all that interesting. So while this was way better than the abysmal Driv3r, we're still gonna say no.