As critics of Gameloft will no doubt mention in nearly every post we make about Gameloft games that are "inspired" by other popular franchises, but in the case of Driver, Gameloft has taken a sharp turn from these types of games to bringing a remastered version of one of the best PC driving games of the late 90's to the iPhone.
In Driver, you play as an underground NYPD detective who was chosen by the force for his impressive driving skills to infiltrate the filthy underbelly of four in-game cities. You will be tasked with a series of missions that will have you racing around the city, evading the police, and generally doing most of the things you do in Grand Theft Auto games without the ability to ever get out of your car.
Gameloft has brought nearly everything from the original Driver to the iPhone, including the exact same physics and driving engine present in the PC original. As players of the PC version may remember, the game was fairly dark with low-resolution textures-- Gameloft has completely spruced up all the original graphics making for a much more colorful and visually impressive game than the original.
As a faithful port of the PC classic, Driver will have a complete car damage system and four in-game cities-- each being larger than the whole city in Gangstar. All of the UI elements that would require a keyboard or mouse have been refined to be touch friendly, and the game can be controlled using tilt, a virtual joystick, or a virtual D-Pad.
Other improvements from the original include a GPS system to help gamers find their way to each objective, and the checkpoints themselves have been made much more obvious. Essentially, everything that was great about the original Driver has been preserved, and everything that wasn't so great has been brought up to today's standards.
Regrettably, the only thing that is missing from the PC original is the replay editor. Gameloft felt the UI was just far too cumbersome without a keyboard and mouse, and having played the original, I tend to agree with them. The best thing about Driver is it is by no means a mobile game. In its day, Driver was an excellent PC game that provided over 6 hours of gameplay that gamers happily paid full PC game price for.
Fans of the original no doubt remember its difficulty level which could be best described as "brutal", and Gameloft having recognized that gamers today might not be too in to the idea of redoing missions dozens of times has included both an easier mode along with the original difficulty level configurable in the game's options.
All of the cinematics and voice-overs are preserved from the 1999 Driver, and as a fan of the original, I am extremely excited to have one of my favorite games of the 90's on my iPhone. Gameloft is hopeful to submit Driver to Apple soon and plans to have it on the App Store sometime next month.