Home | News | Reviews | Previews | Hardware
The Italian Job
Score: 78%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Take 2/Rockstar Games
Developer: Pixelogic
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 (1 - 7 Alternating)
Genre: Racing/ Action

Graphics & Sound:
In the world of the PSOne, The Italian Job's graphics probably fair halfway decent, but are still pretty ugly. Unfortunately, the characters in the game are extremely pixilated. The vehicles and cities themselves have a good balance of graphical power and game performance, but there are a lot of noticeable pop-ups when driving through the cityscape. Playing The Italian Job on the PS2 doesn't seem to add anything to the game graphics-wise either.

With the exception of the game's music, the sound in the game is horrible. Character voices are very washed out and it's extremely hard to understand them at times. Thankfully, there is also text posted on the screen when these characters are giving you information about the story line. A lot more work could have gone into the graphics and sound of The Italian Job, but you do get what you pay for (since this is a 10 dollar game).

If you've played Driver, then you know exactly what to expect from The Italian Job's main game. If not, the brief rundown goes like this: You must become the wheelman in a variety of vehicle types, and must complete a wide selection of missions. These missions range from driving people from one spot to another, to flooring it around town so that you can disable security cameras, among doing other objectives.

The one major gripe I have with The Italian Job is that the physics engine is horrific. Although the many different makes of vehicles have their own attributes (i.e. the bus is very slow and hard to turn), there is one common difficulty throughout them all. No matter which vehicle you are driving, the steering is extremely sensitive, and all little bumps and scrapes seem to be amplified and send you out of control. On the bigger picture, this difficult control is more than annoying, but also makes a couple of the missions extremely difficult to complete.

The Italian Job's variety of cars are all ready for you to stick your lead-foot into them. In fact, you'll have control over 14 different vehicles, from tiny 'two-door Specs' to full-sized passenger buses. Throw that together with the even greater variety of mini-games, and The Italian Job poses a decent amount of replay value. There are 3 types of mini-game: Checkpoint, Destructor, and Challenge. Checkpoint is exactly as it sounds. You must drive through each checkpoint in the allotted amount of time. In Destructor, the course is set up with a number of orange cones. Each time you hit one, one second is added to your time. The goal is actually not to hit all cones, but to have time remaining as you cross the finish line. And finally, the Challenge Stages offer a variety of tasks, including jumping and icy road conditions during the challenges.

Best of all in The Italian Job is that, using a single controller, up to seven people can play the Party Play games together. You will get to choose the number of players, the number of events (up to 10), and finally, you will get to choose which types of events you will play with from any of the events currently unlocked in the single-player mini-games. In Party Play, completing the courses in the shortest amount of time will award you with the most points. But if nobody completes the course, points are awarded based on the progress a player reaches. For example, if nobody finishes the course in Destructor, the player that knocks over the most cones gets first place. A running total is kept throughout Party Play, declaring a winner at the end.

For the most part, playing in Italian Job mode is actually very easy. There are a couple of missions that will most likely give you all kinds of trouble, but with a little persistence, you will probably clear the game in no time. Where the real challenge comes into play is within the mini-games and Party Play. Here you will be faced with various degrees of difficulty, where there is a fine line between being totally frustrated or totally engulfed in the gameplay. (I vote for the latter.)

Game Mechanics:
The controls of The Italian Job are very straightforward and basic, and anyone should be able to jump right in and become a professional wheelman. The driving physics in the game can get frustrating though, as you tend to spin out and lose control very easily. Other than that, the gameplay here is pretty fluid.

I do have a huge beef with the menu system. Selling a game at the bargain price of 10 bucks is no excuse for having a shoddy interface. It is utterly ridiculous that you need to backtrack all of the way to the Main Menu, and then work your way back into the Options Menu just to save the game. Not only is this time consuming in its own right, but the extremely long load times (not noticeably improved on the PS2) also make it even more annoying. Another annoyance is that you can't skip the cut-scenes that happen immediately before you get into your car. So each time you have to re-play a mission, you have to sit and watch the same scenes over and over.

But the burning question on everyone's mind is simple. Is The Italian Job worth spending 10 dollars on? The answer: Without a doubt. In fact, it's like getting a copycat Driver with the added enjoyment of many mini-games and challenges. Spend the 10 USD. You really can't go wrong with The Italian Job.

-Woody, GameVortex Communications
AKA Shane Wodele

This site best viewed in Internet Explorer 6 or higher or Firefox.