Forgiving might be easy but forgetting... well, we're not so big on that. Suffice to say, we doubt we'll be getting over Ubisoft's rather lacklustre treatment of the Wii so far any time soon. With only a couple of decent titles buried under a pile of cash-grabbing awfulness, it's hardly been a stellar start for the French publisher. And not surprisingly, a port of a year-old game like Driver: Parallel Lines doesn't really make things any better.
Still, there's some relatively good news to come out of all this. Despite being an incredibly straightforward and limited port, Parallel Lines is actually okay. Don't get us wrong, it's far from an essential purchase but equally, it's nowhere near as bad as some other games we could mention (*cough* Far Cry Vengeance *cough*).
True, that's almost entirely down
to Reflections' original work on the
game rather than Ubisoft Barcelona's improvements, which, as far as we can tell, cover little more than implementation of the Wii controls but at least you know it won't be £40 of your hard-earned cash down the drain if you decide to splash out on it, right?
Live Fast, Drive Dumb
As the main title suggests, Parallel Lines' main focus is on driving; a good thing, seeing as any time spent on-foot is pretty rubbish. As such, you'll spend much of your time sprinting around the fairly believable streets of New York, completing all kinds of car-based missions that mostly involve driving through glowing markers. Hey, we said it was playable, not innovative.
Split over two separate time periods - the funky '70s and a more up-to-date 2006 - the game's certainly got a lot of flavour, not to mention lots of vehicles to purloin along the way. Those of you looking for some GTA-style action are likely to be disappointed though, as there are decidedly less things to do on the side, which leaves the action feeling more linear than perhaps it should be.
While the missions aren't exactly inspired though, the impressive size of the map, combined with some interesting AI touches (the police respond if they spot you breaking the speed limit, for instance) makes for an enjoyable experience. In fact, a few odd instances aside where cars can be sent flying through minor prangs and cops ignore you slamming into surrounding traffic, it's all solid stuff.
The Wii controls, however, prove somewhat hit and miss. It doesn't take a genius to realise that aiming a gun with the on-screen cursor makes car chases that much more exciting and, of course, accurate, but putting the handbrake on Nunchuk movement doesn't really work as it's just too sensitive.
Out Of Control
And if the Remote can be used to aim during shootouts and on the in-game map, why can't you use it to cycle through menu options and various other prompts? Ubisoft actually promised "more than 30 unique and exclusive controls" for the Wii version, but we were hard pressed to find more than a handful.
But then Driver: Parallel Lines was never going to be about making innovative use of the Wii's controls. It's another quick cash-in port that just happens to work because the game actually wasn't that bad in the first place. That doesn't excuse it looking like a PS2 game, having some atrocious visual pop-up or a ragged frame rate though, so we really hope Ubisoft stops doing these lazy ports soon. After all, the gaming public has just as long a memory as we do.