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I have taken a particular interest in the video game of The Italian Job because in 1969 I actually went to the cinema (or as we called it then, the local flea-pit) at least 20 times to re-live that famous car chase involving the red, white and blue mini-coopers. Of course back in those days it only cost a few pennies to get in and it was long before the rip-off days of jumbo popcorn and a carton of fizzy syrup (I think they call it Coke) so this regular pass-time hardly broke the bank of Monte-Carlo.
Starring a youthful cheery cockney Michael Caine in the lead role of Charlie Croker the plot involved a daring $4,000,000 gold bullion daylight robbery resulting in a frantic escape through the busy streets of Turin right under the noses of the Italian mafia.
The game actually covers the sequence of events in the movie systematically. The player initially takes on the role of one of Charlie’s drivers and involves 16 varied challenges from his early pick-up from the gates of prison, around the streets of London, through the malls and markets of Turin, over the Italian rooftops, down in the underground sewers and onto that final ‘cliffhanging’ scene in the Alps.
The sound effects are brilliant. The authentic music (“self preservation society…”) matches the frantic pace, while screeches of tyres and wailing sirens increase the atmosphere. All along the voice of Charlie Croker can be heard chirping in with encouraging one liners (“put yer foot down, put yer foot down!”, “ get a move on son, only 5 miles to go!”) mixed with Crusty The Clown style manic laughter.
Gameplay follows the tried and tested formula that proved a phenomenal success for the Driver series of games. Tasks usually involve reaching varied checkpoints throughout the mapped cities of London and Turin within a set timescale. Obviously three criteria must be met to complete the task, which are weaving among oncoming traffic, learning the shortest accessible route and avoiding (and losing) the chasing police/mafia. Other modes include party car trials for up to 8 players (but not together), driving test challenge, free ride around London or Turin, checkpoint slalom and destructor mode.
The cars actually handle quite well with steering and braking relatively smooth, however the handbrake button is far too responsive and barely usable. Obviously the lightweight minis can be thrown around corners and catapulted over rooftops, while trucks and buses may be battered through queues of traffic, but generally there is not really a massive variation in handling between types. Damage limitation is the main concern and the seemingly ‘magnetic’ AI of the cop cars proves to be the biggest challenge. There are 14 vehicles to master including limousines, armored trucks, coaches and of course a mini-cooper.
I would have liked to seen the inclusion of an in-car perspective but only one single camera angle is all that is offered, that being from up and behind the vehicle. During the famous three mini scene the camera occasionally retreats to a safe distance capturing the stunt spectacularly, however the sudden return to normal view can become quite disorienting. What I find unforgivable in this type of game is the lack of a rear view mirror, or at least a look behind button. How on earth you’re supposed to lose the cops when you can’t even see approximately where they are is beyond me. The omission of a map screen also gives the impression of a slack ‘job’.
I have to warn you that graphically The Italian Job is awful. It contains so many of the flaws that have gradually been eradicated on PSone over the last five years, which is unforgivable. The pop-up is embarrassing, loading times painful, regular freezing frames (even on the intros), grainy textures, see-through scenery… I actually saw one press release for this game that claimed the car models were comparable to those in Gran Turismo… Hahaha… more likely chalk and cheese.
Still… I suppose the gameplay may just hold this title together and make it a worthwhile weekend rental.
· 3rd person mission based driving game.
· Master 14 vehicles, including flash sports cars, 4x4’s and the legendary mini-cooper
· Take part in locations from the movie such as London (8 levels), Turin (6 levels) and the Alps (2 levels).
· Game modes include: story mode, party mode, challenge mode, free ride, checkpoint mode and destructor mode.
· Two difficulty levels: normal and easy
1 Block required on Memory card per save (min)
Up to 1 Players (without Multi-tap)
Uses Dual Shock Pad Buttons
Uses Dual Shock Pad Analog Sticks
Uses Dual Shock Pad Vibration facility
REVIEW SCORE GUIDE:
We promise that we have fully played 'The Italian Job' before writing this review. The scores given above are our honest opinion and were not influenced in any way by the manufacturer or distributor of the game.
SUMMARY OF FINAL RATING (%)
00 - 59 This makes your console seem like an older machine. It utilises little or none of the PSone power.
60 - 69 This game is little more than average and we advise renting or play-testing before considering a purchase.
70 - 79 This is a good solid title that should still appeal to those who like this type of game.
80 - 89 This is a fantastic game that we think you will enjoy playing for quite some time.
90 - 100 This game either pushes the boundaries of it's genre further than ever before on this system, or creates a completely new gaming experience. Either way, it should not be missed and is an essential purchase in our opinion.
IMPORTANT - PLEASE READ:
It is very important that you are aware that the criteria we use to obtain review scores on the PS2 is very different to that used for games on the original Playstation (PSone). The Processing and Graphical power of the two consoles are vastly different and as our reviews are graded against what we estimate is the achievable potential of each system, it does not mean in any way that a game scoring 80 percent on PS2 is worse than a Playstation (PSone) equivalent which scores 95.
A more detailed breakdown of this guide can be read here.
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