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The Italian Job Review

publisher: GlobalStar Software
developer: SCi
genre: Racing

PII-300, 32MB RAM, 500MB HDD, 3D accelerator
ESRB rating: T

release date: Aug 19, 02
» All About The Italian Job on ActionTrip

Movies into games, games into movies; this is becoming a common pattern these days. Hold on! Let's put Houdini in there - games into movies, movies into games, games into pigeons and white rabbits. No wait, throw in an Archbishop; games to movies, to rabbits, to religious fanatics carrying heavy wooden fifteen year old boys. Bah, you get the point! Wait! Was there a point to this rant? Ah yes, porting...

This time around Pixelogic has teamed up with SCI to bring yet another British cinematic classic to the PSX and then port it to the PC. Ergo, The Italian Job -- a movie-based PSX game that has been ported to the PC with the help of RenderWare technology...which makes this game as portable as turning a German super-sex transvestite in a gay pride parade into the next Pope.

Oh, and did I mention that The Italian Job is based on a cult movie from the late 60's? Wait! Did I just say 1969?! I did now... Well, besides having a cool number like 69 to marvel at, there isn't anything particularly logical about the fact that someone has decided to port a cult movie from '69. Think about it: how many 15-year-old PSX players know who Michael Caine is? Sure, the guy is an awesome actor, but I don't think that your average PSX teen is watching cinema classics nowadays. So, making a game based on a movie made in '69 would be about as smart as teaching the kids of today what LP means. They just don't know, and my best bet is they don't give a fuck. A guy who thought that The Italian Job - the movie was a hip and in flick, is probably 50 or so years old now, making the acquisition of this license a very risky endeavor.

However, that is not to say that fifty-year-olds won't enjoy this game, just as long as they don't get their mitts on something a little more contemporary than the PSX, like the PC, Xbox, or the PS2 for that matter. The Italian Job carries that unique British mobster style of humor, something that has been successfully emulated (well to a degree) by another British bloke, named Guy Ritchie: who you may know as that Gumby who married Madonna. I generally find that sorta humor sharp and witty, so that is a definite upside to this game.

The Italian Job is a smash-it-up racer set in different urban locations, like London and Turin (Italy). The game leans heavily on the events in the movie: your job is to drive cheeky and lose the cops, while managing to keep your vehicle in one piece without losing a wheel or wrecking the damn thing entirely. The action is mission-based, and the objectives will range from successfully carrying out a prison getaway to transporting explosives and competing with other hot-shot getaway drivers. The plot revolves around Charlie Croker, who is out of jail and on the make again. He is attempting to steal $4,000,000 worth of gold from under the noses of the Turin Polizei and the Mafia. And he plans to do this by making one huge ass traffic jam in the city. A cool enough premise for a game I guess.

The players will get to drive numerous cars from the period like, 4x4 Range Rover's, a Mini Morris and an Aston Martin amongst others. You'll also enjoy some London site seeing, visiting places like the Piccadilly Circus and King's Cross station; and not to mention Turin and the Swiss Alps. But when I say that you see these places, I mean more like you smash the shit out of the lampposts, parked cars, Double-Decker's and police cars'. This was supposed to be the main selling point of the game - the fun, arcadish destruction in urban locations, spiced up with some of that dry British humor (cute bird and fellow driver, Lorna, is the star of the "Keeping it Up" mission).

To a degree, Pixelogic has succeeded in doing this, as the streets look really lively, with plenty of cars and pedestrians to go around (no, you won't be able to make mince meat out of pedestrians - this is not that other SCI game you know). I guess the programmers were able to achieve this because quite honestly, the game has about as much polys as your average title from '97, which is not exactly commendable. Still, the dated look of this game is not as distracting as one would initially expect, because Pixelogic artists did a good job of evoking the bustling urban atmosphere from the movie. Hey, it's a PSX port, so don't expect Project Gotham or anything. On the bright side however, you'll get to smash plenty of other cars, and I must say that the physics model breathes enough life into the action to make it interesting and worth while. Car models act differently, in accordance to their weight and horse power. Another thing is that you won't be able to knock over a lamppost if your car doesn't have enough momentum, which is a welcome change over games where a mere bush can stop a car dead in its tracks. The collisions are well done...for an arcade racer.

The mission objectives are challenging but not frustrating enough to make you want to give up on the game. However, what's really lacking here is the AI and the lackluster visuals. I already discussed the visuals, so I'll just say a thing or two about the AI. The cop cars act erratically to say the least, they will keep smashing into ya and into each other, even if your car comes to a complete stop. This looks rather pathetic, and it is much the same with the pedestrians.

The behavior of cops and pedestrians gives off the impression of a heavily scripted and artificially boosted AI code. This along with the poor visuals can easily kill some of the fun you get from smashing into other cars and driving freely through the streets of London and Turin...unless you're a real sucker for Michael Caine and his role in the movie.

Besides the main campaign, the game also features the Destruction mode (you need to knock over all the pins, instead of dodging them), which is about the only other interesting game mode available. In the end, this one is supposed to hook you with its offbeat adult nature and some good-ole' fashioned car wrecking, but I'm not so sure that people who don't get in the spirit of the movie, will enjoy the driving all that much. Me, I thought the game was entertaining enough to make me finish the main campaign, but that would hardly be enough to make me part with some cash for it.


6.1   Above Average 

Cities look real "lively." Humor, and some decent upbeat tunes. The physics model is not too shabby;

Dated graphics, AI; it's a PSX port for crying out loud!



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