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Review by: Bob Mandel
Published: September 3, 2002
There is a long tradition of having computer games emerge based upon hit movies, but having a 30-year time span between the two is more than a bit unusual. Such is the case with the mission-based driving offering, The Italian Job, based on Paramount Pictures’ identically named British cult movie of 1969 starring Michael Caine. Previously released for Sony’s PlayStation by RockStar Games, Take-Two subsidiary Global Star recently ported this title over to the personal computer. The resemblance between what you see on your computer screen and what you would have watched at the movie theater is uncanny, right down to the cinematic closing scene.
The story revolves around Charlie Croker, an inveterate criminal just released from jail, masterminding a complex and massive gold heist of roughly $4 million in gold bullion. Facilitating the robbery is an artificially created citywide traffic jam preventing effective pursuit and capture, taking advantage of the tiny yet ever popular Mini Coopers to escape through extremely narrow, winding and uneven passageways. You are hired as a driver to perform many tasks: assembling the crew and equipment needed to undertake the larceny, executing the theft and finally getting away. At the same time, you need to evade the police and avoid destroying your escape vehicle.
To complete your assignments, there are numerous vehicles from which to choose, including 4X4 Range Rovers, an Aston Martin, an armored security van, a bus and the legendary Austin Mini Cooper. All are based, at least in appearance, on actual production models. Although all are generally fun to drive, these vehicles do not differ much in speed or acceleration. Given that part of your incentive to continue playing is the acquisition of a new car, the result is that you can get access to vehicles that appear distinctive but are virtually indistinguishable in handling.
The physical locations through which you drive are all scenic European spots: London, Turin and the Swiss Alps. Each environment intentionally resembles the streets of the actual cities depicted. Rather than just tooling around like a tourist, however, you end up zipping across rooftops, through sewer systems and between numerous innocent bystanders in your haste to accomplish your nefarious goals. Rather than deserted settings, you encounter plenty of other vehicles as well as pedestrians; as in Microsoft’s Midtown Madness, you can smash virtually any stationery or moving object, but you cannot run over any person. You undertake your unlawful activities right under the noses of the police and other professional criminals.
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