Parallel Lines is a massive improvement upon the execrable Driv3r. But then again, being run over by Carrot Top driving a steamroller would get the same praise.
The first thing that strikes us is that, unlike its predecessor, it works. The second is “How come Rockstar didn’t sue when this came out on consoles last year?” Not since the 360’s Saint’s Row has a more blatant moment-by-moment rip-off of Grand Theft Auto been seen. Every detail from how you pull drivers out of the cars you steal, to the plot and mission structure, is an attempted Xerox of GTA’s design. But like trying to photocopy a 3D object, the result is an empty, soulless clone.
Last year, the game faithfully recreated 1970s New York, using outdated PS2 tech. And now, one year later, the PC version shows no significant improvements and a few new failings. The map, designed to show you available goals and enable speedy transfer between the three large land masses, is broken and barely responds to key presses. Then there’s the bewildering mess of controls. Our gamepad took over an hour to set up. Getting left to go left rather than right proved the hardest challenge (reversed for the keyboard too, folks).
However, this is no Driv3r. Besides the map, there’s no bug-based hilarity - in fact, there’s no humor at all. The car handling is decent, handbrake turns satisfying. You can tear about the city, picking up missions, side-tasks, racing, mowing down the innocent, and (worst of all in the eyes of the police) putting your wheels in the opposite lane. Such atrocities elicit New York’s finest to pursue you for as much as half a block before losing track.
Trouble is, the traffic is entirely composed of old men unwilling to go over 20mph. Roads thick with cars become miserable to race on, since the cars you drive simply can’t go under 40. The traffic lights sit on red for literally minutes at a time, and then turn green for a matter of seconds. Blow a light and a nearby cop will do his best to shoot you dead.
Equally impressive are the cutscenes with decent acting, a fair script, and phenomenally rendered graphics. But of course this only serves to highlight the game as the dated dog it is.