Here’s the story of Driver. Driver 1: ahead-of-its-time PS1 police-chase beauty; GTA before GTA. Driver 2: the same, with on-foot bits. Driv3r: a bigger collection of bugs than you’d find on a sugar lump left next to an ant hill.
Which brings us to Parallel Lines - the game that returned the series to some of its former glory, and which you can think of as GTA with a time-traveling twist (you’re in 1978 for two-thirds of the game, then banged up to emerge in 2006 for the rest). And the action takes place in a real city: an accurate(ish), giganto New York, unlike The Godfather’s chocolatey cardboard NY and Scarface’s Miami-on-a-saucepan.
So what’s new for the Wii? Mainly the controls. Accelerating with the Nunchuk’s Z button seems odd at first, but it actually works - especially when it’s married to poking your head out of the car window and shooting with the Wii remote pointer while still steering (easily one of Wii’s greatest ever moments). What isn’t so good is twisting the Nunchuk for handbrake turns. “Hand break,” the manual calls it, and we think they’re serious: it hurts. Plus, you can never scratch your nose while driving.
Otherwise, Parallel Lines is the 18-month-old PS2 version. But for once it doesn’t really matter, as there’s lots to like. The visuals are basic but slick and, because the Wii could do detail like this in its sleep, the city moves like lightning for some properly thrilling speed. The car (and bike) handling is great. Being able to smash through pretty much anything means no lamppost-phobia. It’s one of those games where you can get distracted for hours - shooting at stuff or flipping your car or trying to fall from walls onto the tops of buses, just to see what happens.
Don’t get us wrong: Parallel Lines is pretty underwhelming compared to the other GTA-alikes on theWii. It veers too often between utter boredom (driving miles between missions) and brutal toughness (trying to knock turbo-charged bulletproof vans off the road). And, you know, we don’t want to encourage Ubisoft to keep trotting out these Wii remakes. But it’s worth taking for a spin.