Driven is based on the incredibly unpopular feature film of the same name. Sylvester Stallone plays the part of Joe Tanto, mentor to one Jimmy Bly, and long forgotten F1 racing legend. With major star power like Stallone backing the game up, you'd think that the success of this title would be a given, but you’d be wrong in that assumption since its become overwhelmingly apparent throughout the years that a Hollywood license does not ensure success. Like the motion picture on which it’s based, you'll find that the game is lacking in both quality and overall entertainment value. The content is all there, the right ingredients are included, and the planetary alignment is present – which makes it all the more disappointing that bam! couldn't deliver on the goods. Following the age-old tradition of refusing to make a cool game based on a movie adaptation, Driven takes the content on which it is based and somehow, through proprietary money-grubbing filters, manages to create a game that doesn’t come anywhere close to realizing its potential. One aspect of F1 formula racing that the developers were able to successfully convey though, is the true sense of teamwork that you’ll find in certain aspects of the game. You will often be asked to make sacrifices by using yourself to wrap up an opponent to ensure that your teammate wins the race -- an admittedly original inclusion. Re-creations of movie scenes, which have you plowing through busy streets in search for rogue teammates, are of the more notable sequences of the game.
The game features a large assortment of real-world tracks based on the F1 circuit, although most are not picture-perfect since bam! couldn't pony up the necessary cash to license them. The twitchy control found in the PS2 port of this game has been tweaked for a more comfortable experience in the GameCube version. Don't expect any GT3 quality play mechanics though. What bam! created with Driven is a solid driver with some nagging annoyances, one of which is its uninspired and thoughtless objectives -- the game plays out in scenarios and rarely offers anything outside of your standard-issue complete-the-race-in-a-top-3-position-type requirement. Between each scenario, you'll be treated to a cartoon-ized counterpart of Stallone and other characters from the movie. As your trainer, Joe Tanto will often offer useless advice between races like "You got to be the best!”
Driven is a solid, if not somewhat boring, racing game that fails to innovate or add any sense of entertainment not already found in previous racing games. The one attempt at adding a twist to the age-old racing formula is the introduction of "The Zone". When you are in "The Zone", the edges of the screen will begin to blur, which instead of adding a sense of excitement, just makes things hard to see.
The GameCube version of Driven offers enhanced graphics, which does result in a much more aesthetically pleasing experience. Unlike the PS2 counterpart, this version offers a constant and manageable frame rate, rarely dipping below 60FPS. Dynamic reflection algorithms can also be seen, which is a nice touch, and other subtle graphical nuances were also included. Visually, Driven looks great on the GameCube.
Music is composed mainly of a techno soundtrack and fits the overall ambiance of the presentation quite nicely. Driven does a nice job of integrating obligatory sound effects like powerful roars of the engines and spectator audio clips into the game. The between-race commentary adds a cool sense of style to the game with voice-over talent contributed from their real-life counterparts.
Acceleration and braking have been moved to the trigger buttons for the NGC port, with overall speed determined by how hard you press on the shoulder button. Steering is allocated to the left analog-stick and there are no tricky gear-shifting techniques to be learned since every vehicle is set to automatic. The controls to this game are very easy to pick up but successfully cornering around some of the tracks more unforgiving spots is incredibly difficult and more often then not will result in your car illogically being thrown 50 feet in the air. As is the case with nearly all respectable F1 racers, Driven includes such features as drafting behind cars to give you an extra boost of speed. Drafting is also a helpful technique when cornering around particularly menacing turns.
As your car becomes more and more beat-up and broken, you'll be given up to 5 opportunities to repair your car in real-time by hitting the Y-button. While this is helpful in the sense that it ensures a constant top-speed and maneuverability, it’s also detrimental since it will bring you to a complete stop and take away precious seconds from your overall time. This feature gives an added sense of urgency and strategy to the game but rarely becomes necessary, since it’s possible to continue racing with only 3 wheels attached to the vehicle. Aside from the main story mode of the game, you'll also have the option of competing in tournaments that usually consist of 3 separate races. Accumulating the top score will ensure your victory when the tournament is over. Competing in tournaments will also unlock new racers and new tournaments. There is also a cool multi-player mode, which allows you to race competitively against a human opponent or utilize the second player as a fellow teammate.
Driven is guilty of utilizing unfair tactics and flat-out cheating when it comes to the computer-controlled racers in the game. Opponents are always unwaveringly precise and attempting to out-corner a competitor or slow him down through means of swerving him off to the side usually results in your car spinning wildly out of control with nary a scratch on the opponent. At times, competing racers will magically gather an unprecedented boost of speed without warning or explanation. This becomes very annoying towards the latter parts of the game since you can run a nearly flawless race and still not come out on top due to cheating on the part of the cheese-ass computer. While overall maneuverability is nowhere near as frustrating as the PS2 version, thanks to smoother steering, less unwarranted spin-outs, and sturdier cars that require less repairs, the overall enjoyability of the game, while somewhat improved, remains almost completely devoid of noteworthy offerings.
If you are a racing fanatic, you might find some endearing qualities in Driven, but as it stands, the lack of depth in gameplay and unforgiving track design relegates this game to rental-only status. There are not a whole heckuva lot of racing games for Nintendo's cute little box, so Driven may be worthy of a look-see if not only for its cool graphics and solid racing dynamics.