U.S. cover art
Crawfish Interactive (GBC)
|Publisher(s)||GT Interactive Software|
|Platform(s)||PlayStation, Game Boy Color, Microsoft Windows, Macintosh, Playstation Network, iOS|
NA June 30, 1999
EU July 2, 1999
JP March 9, 2000
Game Boy Color
NA April, 2000
NA September 10, 2000
EU October 13, 2000
NA December 2000
PAL August 14, 2008
NA December 8, 2009
|Media||1 CD, Download|
|System requirements||Windows 95 or Windows 98,|
|Input methods||Gamepad, keyboard, mouse, multi-touch (iPhone OS)|
Driver: You Are the Wheelman (or more simply known as Driver), is a 1999 action driving video game developed by Reflections Interactive (now known as Ubisoft Reflections), who had earlier hits with Destruction Derby in the early years of the PlayStation. It is the first game in the Driver series. Initially, the game was only released for the PlayStation, but Windows and Mac ports were released less than a year later. A special Game Boy Color version was also released, with top-down view, and fewer missions. In 2009, an iPhone/iPod Touch version was made available.
The game tells the story of John Tanner, a detective with the NYPD, going undercover in order to infiltrate organized crime by impressing the bosses with difficult driving missions (e.g., stopping and following another car, smashing through restaurants, delivering stolen cars, or scaring taxi customers). Tanner was chosen for this mission because of his unique driving skills, which he gained from his time as a racecar driver.
His undercover work begins when he must prove to some gangsters in a parking garage that he can do jobs for them by demonstrating his driving skills. Upon doing so, he is invited to his first mission, in Miami, Florida.
Tanner's first mission is as the getaway driver for a bank job. Upon successfully carrying out this job, Tanner is then called upon to either drive a stolen car to a yard for a respray or help a gangster carry out an assassination. If Tanner takes the stolen car mission, he must then exchange a briefcase for a key, but he ends up being double-crossed and forced to chase the double-crosser across Miami Bay. If he takes the assassination mission, he must then clean up after a driver has left a stolen car out in the open.
Tanner then talks to a pimp named Rufus, who reveals that he is busting out an associate of his, Jean-Paul, from an armored police car. After this job is complete, Tanner either smashes a group of restaurants for a gangster who has found one of the owners has failed to pay protection money, or he drives an extremely fast car to safety for a gangster who needs it for a job. If he takes the restaurant mission, he must then pick up a shipment of drugs at the pier. If he takes the fast car mission, he must then either smash the car belonging to the "Black Interceptor", which then leads to a double cross, in which Tanner must evade, or stop Di'Angio by smashing his car.
Afterwards, Rufus is shot by his girlfriend Jesse, and Tanner chases her as she tries to escape in a monorail. He then turns her over to the police, and during her interrogation she gives up the name of an Italian-American man named Castaldi, who lives in San Francisco, California.
Tanner begins work in San Francisco with a casino job for some gangsters who have heard he is in town.
After this, he meets an informant known as Mojo, who gives him information about who Jean-Paul is really working for, and a man named Rudi.
From here Tanner either aids in an exchange, drives stolen guns to a warehouse or aids in the robbery of a shopping mall. Following this, he meets a rival from his racing days called Slater. Tanner then either aids a gangster in scaring one of his former associates by taking him on a bumpy taxi ride, or takes heavy-duty explosives to an alleyway. If Tanner scares the associate, he then takes a local gangster to a waiting helicopter. Alternatively, if he takes the explosives across town, he then aids a group of gangsters left in the lurch in Chinatown.
Tanner then gets a phone call whereby he learns that Mojo has been kidnapped, and his captors want $10,000. They make Tanner work to save Moj fuck o by forcing him to go to three phone booths in order to pick up instructions about where to go next. At the third phone booth, Mojo is saved and the money exchanged. Mojo reveals that Castaldi (Jean-Paul's real boss) is working with a man called Don Hancock who is running for President of the United States.
Following this, Tanner is either set up by Slater and forced to evade cops as he heads home, or aids Castaldi in bringing one of his men to an underground car park for a meeting. By this point, the rivalry between Tanner and Slater has become too bitter, and when Tanner suspects Slater of spying on him, he frames Slater by smashing his car in a chase, which results in Slater getting arrested. Tanner then heads to Los Angeles to work directly for Castaldi.
In LA, Tanner begins by either stealing a police car for Castaldi's associates or bringing an associate to the hospital after he is shot. Following this, he either chases a double-crossing associate of Castaldi's and smashes him off the road, or gets Castaldi's girlfriend to a hospital after she has overdosed.
Tanner then learns of Castaldi's real reason for being in LA; the assassination of FBI agent Bill Maddox outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre. Tanner later meets with Leck, his police contact from New York, alerting him to the assassination attempt on Maddox. Tanner orders him to make sure Maddox turns up or otherwise his cover may be rumbled. He also warns him that there is an FBI leak which is giving information to Castaldi about Maddox. Tanner picks up the assassins and takes them to the Theatre, but the police spring an ambush.
Tanner flees the scene, taking the assassins to a safehouse near Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The gangsters are convinced that Tanner, the newest and therefore least trustworthy member of the Castaldi Family was the one who tipped off the police, but he convinces them that it was Slater, who probably tipped them off during his interrogation in San Francisco.
Tanner then either rescues one of Castaldi's men from a gangster called Granger, helps some associates escape from a Beverly Hills job or tests the effectiveness of a safehouse by driving to it.
New York City
When Tanner arrives back in New York he begins by either making a switch at Grand Central Terminal or taking a very damaged car to a scrapyard. Following this, he either takes control of a police car to thwart a bank job or gets some gangsters out of trouble after they have been pinned down by police. After Leck tells Tanner that his lieutenant, McKenzie, wants Tanner to abandon his undercover work, he either brings a cab home for further jobs or destroys a rival gangster's main car. Next, Tanner has to either destroy four cars before they reach Castaldi, or wreck a car to retrieve photo negatives.
Tanner then meets with Leck, who again warns him that McKenzie wants him to come back in, as he is worried that Tanner's cover will not hold up much longer. Tanner again ignores this advice, but tells Leck that he will let him know what Castaldi's main goal is. Next, either Tanner's lady friend, Ali, will call for help or Tanner goes through a "Rite of Passage", told over the phone by Castaldi that if he does not beat Slater's time across town, he is out of the final job.
Tanner then learns that the final job is a hit on the President, and Tanner is forced to ignore all of Castaldi's instructions and take the President to safety.
After saving the President, Tanner meets with McKenzie and another unidentified man, who congratulates him on his outstanding work. He informs Tanner that Castaldi, Don Hancock and the FBI leak are behind bars, and offers Tanner his badge back. However, Tanner is infuriated that the FBI and police could be involved in something like this. He refuses to take his badge back and starts walking out of the parking garage, with McKenzie yelling at him that this is his last chance. Tanner ignores him and leaves.
The game ends with Tanner driving in a jeep. Depending on which levels the player chose, Ali may or may not be riding with him.
In a nod to the city where Reflections Interactive is based, a small portion of Newcastle upon Tyne was modeled and used in the end credits. Using a GameShark or Code Breaker (or after completing the game in the PC version), players can unlock the city and drive around. However, the drivable area is very small, and can be very buggy around the barriers.
- Mode Selection
The game is played in four cities: (Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City in which, like many games at the time, they remain only partially faithful to the original city layouts, but notably featured them as explorable open world environments.
The game was designed to mimic 1960s and 1970s car chase films. The title and the overall theme seem to be heavily inspired by the 1978 film The Driver by director Walter Hill. Most notably, the "Training" level at the beginning of the game is a copy of a scene from the movie in which the Driver (played by Ryan O'Neal) proves his skills to some gangsters in a parking garage. The music, overall character design in the cutscenes, and the cars themselves (complete with flying hubcaps), are inspired by films such as Bullitt and television series such as Starsky and Hutch. The game also features a "Film Director" mode, where a run could be replayed with cameras chosen by the player, and a "Quick Replay", where the cameras are automatically selected.
In addition to the "Undercover" mode, the player also had an option to drive around in the cities (once they are unlocked) and dirt tracks. There are several other modes, like pursuit, getaway, and checkpoint races. After the game is finished, several cheats are made available. Among them are invincibility, immunity to the police, and other cheats that add that extra "fun factor" to the game.
Differences between the PC & PlayStation versions
- Better graphics in the PC version.
- 2 cars not featured in the PlayStation version include a Ferrari 250 SWB and Ford Thunderbird look-a-like.
- Different soundtrack for both games.
- Different cheats for both games.
- The 4 main cities in the PC version are slightly different than the ones featured on the PlayStation version.
- Different cars can be selected at certain points in Undercover mode in the PC version.
- The maximum number of cops that can appear in Take A Ride mode is 4 in the PC version and 2 in the PlayStation version.
- Car selection available for Take A Ride mode upon completing Undercover mode in the PC version.
- Carnage game mode (smash as many things as possible within a time limit)
- Cheats not present in the PC version include Long Suspension (Stilts), Small cars, an upside-down camera, and rear-wheel steering.
- Cheats not present in the PlayStation version include Freight Train (cars don't slow you down), Play in Newcastle, Skip intro mission, and super speed for all playable vehicles.
- The PlayStation version has only two different types of NPC cars, where the PC has more
In contrast to the console version, the PC port featured a custom soundtrack licensed through music libraries instead of original compositions by Allister Brimble, this ended up resulting in a lack of variety for the musical environment, making the port highly criticized for dropping the original score in favor of copyrighted music.
Only one song present in the videogame is also used, the soundtrack features a variety of classic and contemporary funk artists.
- Main Title: "Huggy Bear" - Crispin Merrell
- Interview: "Punch Bowl" - Alan Parker
- Motel Room: "The Rally" - Dennis Farnon
- Miami: "Givem' The Shaft" - Chris Lang & Eric Cunningham
- San Francisco: "Testing Time" - David Lindup
- Los Angeles: "Subway Tunnel Chase" - Lati Kronlund
- New York: "Do Ya Feel Lucky?" - Crispin Merrell
- Desert Offroad: "Rough Ride" - Powerhouse
- Newcastle: "Hole In One" - Powerhouse
Reception and Awards
The first Driver game was met with very positive feedback and critical acclaim, unlike its sequels (Driver 2 garnered mixed reviews at best, and Driv3r was met with a very poor critical reception). IGN gave the game a score of 9.7 and Gamespot gave it a score of 8.6.
- E3 1999 Game Critics Awards: Best Racing Game
- Ranked #12 on IGN's list of the "Top 25 Games of All Time" for the first PlayStation console.
Nevertheless, the PlayStation version suffers from some glitches that the developers acknowledge and justify, because the game was pushing the boundaries of the hardware The game was also criticized for its overly-aggressive A.I. that makes completing certain missions impossible.