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[This month is officially Driver Month here on Gamer Limit. Join us as we embark on an exhaustive road trip in a series of retrospectives for the Driver franchise in the run-up to Driver: San Francisco.]

As the dust settled after the carnage that ensued from the colossal car crash that was Driv3r, the announcement of a new Driver game was met with tepid trepidation in contrast to the days where it would have been tremendously exciting news. I was naturally predicting that the next game would be called DrIVer however, so the news that it would carry the Parallel Lines subtitle instead created a lot of intrigue about the possible direction the series was heading in.

Things became even more interesting upon the knowledge that everyone’s favourite wheelman Tanner, the long-standing protagonist who was previously left for dead during the climax of Driv3r, had been replaced with an anonymous hippy youth donning a pair of slick sun glasses. It was all a sign that the franchise was about to undergo a significant overhaul: drastic repairs were needed if it was to be ever taken seriously again.

Founder Martin Edmonson subsequently left Reflections following the relentless backlash that Driv3r suffered, leading to the company being reformed in a deal with Ubisoft thus creating Ubisoft Reflections under the new leadership of Martin’s brother, Gareth Edmondson. But was the damage already done?

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[This month is officially Driver Month here on Gamer Limit. Join us as we embark on an exhaustive road trip in a series of retrospectives for the Driver franchise in the run-up to Driver: San Francisco.]

It would take four long years before another Driver game would burst onto the scene in an intoxicating cloud of smoke, ready to serve its pining fans after Driver 2. To help quench this thirst, Reflections introduced Stuntman in 2002, a game that that played on Driver’s affinity with cinematic car chases by starring you as a charmless Hollywood stunt driver on fictional film sets. In Stuntman, you were required to perform death-defying car stunts in a series of stringently timed scenes for some upcoming action movies.

While the obvious film parodies were fun to watch, the game ultimately pushed the limits of trial and error by constantly demanding precision driving and was, above all else, infuriatingly difficult. As Reflections’ debut for the next generation of consoles however, it served as an effective appetiser that showed great promise for what was to come in the Wheelman’s next outing.

With the avalanche success of Grand Theft Auto III and Vice City, it’s fair to say that the next generation of Driver had an awful lot of catching up to do. Expectations were running high, especially with the impending release of San Andreas the same year just to add to the pressure. As a result, many were hoping that the third instalment would be everything that Driver 2 should have been, given the advantage of the extra graphical muscle thanks to next generation hardware. Instead, what we were given is widely regarded as one of the most disappointing game sequels in the whole of video game history.

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[This month is officially Driver Month here on Gamer Limit. Join us as we embark on an exhaustive road trip in a series of retrospectives for the Driver franchise in the run-up to Driver: San Francisco.]

After the gargantuan success of Driver, the inevitable announcement of a sequel in 2000 came as no surprise, and with the dawn of the PlayStation 2 fast approaching, the anticipation for the Wheelman’s second and final lap on the PlayStation couldn’t have been higher. Likewise, my hopes for a worthy sequel were just as astronomical having enjoyed its predecessor like nothing else.

Reflections also had similar hopes for their sequel to be the most successful driving game of a generation, with ambitions of expanding the series to heights many couldn’t have foreseen.

Join me as we shift into the second gear of Driver Month.

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[This month is officially Driver Month here on Gamer Limit. Join us as we embark on an exhaustive road trip in a series of retrospectives for the Driver franchise in the run-up to Driver: San Francisco.]

Have you ever felt like a game was made solely for you? Well, this is exactly how I felt when a soon-to-be-revolutionary driving game sped onto the PlayStation completely out of nowhere back in 1999.

For as long as I can remember, I have always had an unrelenting admiration for cars, with a particular love of seeing them being bashed about and pushed to their very limits in high speed car chases from Hollywood movies. You could therefore stipulate that I’m a self-confessed fanatic of this particular genre of film, a fact that is testified by my mammoth machinima project Collateral Collision. Apparently I wasn’t alone in my enthusiasm either, seeing that there was another soul who happened to share my passion.

His name was Martin Edmondson (see, we even share the same name: coincidence? I think not), founder and Creative Director of Reflections Interactive who were previously responsible for the Destruction Derby series. If I were to ever meet the man, it’s abundantly clear we would end up spending an endless amount of time nattering away about our favourite car chases. Because just like me, Martin wanted to pay tribute to his infantile fantasy and developed a project of his very own – that project turned out to be not only the ultimate homage to cinematic chases but one of the most influential driving games of the generation; one that is still deeply cherished by its loyal fanbase.

Take a ride with me as we uncover the Wheelman’s untold legacy.

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Some dismiss it as mere myth; others believe it was part of an elaborate conspiracy fabricated by Sony to improve the credibility of its inaugural console. Well, allow me to let you in on a little secret, friend: the Sega Saturn did exist. And it was good!

Yes, it may have been the ginger kid of the console world, but the unpopular system saw some fantastic exclusives that have sadly been relegated to the dusty space beneath our memories along with the console itself. Well, I’m here to grant one such title a final encore before the curtain closes on it for good: allow me to introduce Mr. Bones (stop giggling in the back). Read more… »

In an attempt to avoid doing what would be expected from a retrospective Sonic review, I thought I would start things off by actually praising Sega’s beleaguered mascot rather than cynically pulverising the poor thing into a bloody pulp. Indeed, while it is difficult to ignore the copious amounts of tripe Sonic Team have developed over the recent years, there was once a time when the spiky blue hedgehog reigned supreme by offering a speedy alternative to those who were bored of Mario’s arguably pedestrian gameplay.

What really wowed the public was the game’s sense of speed – there were death defying loops, springs, speed ramps, corkscrews and special stages galore all of which made up for an electrifying experience. It was the character’s unprecedented sense of speed which really appealed to the more mature gamer, effectively making Sega a significant contender by the time Sonic 2 was released.

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Heavy Rain is a game that has divided opinions here at Gamer Limit. Some of us think it’s a glorified cutscene with obligatory button presses, others think it’s a welcome change of pace and a great narrative-driven game.

Heavy Rain’s influences are vast; movies like Se7en and Saw are easily spotted. Yet there is one gem of a game that hasn’t been praised for being a visionary of its time, and an obvious influence on Quantic Dream’s big PS3 exclusive. I give you: Road Avenger!

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As an adolescent, I was a child who lived in two distinctly different worlds. I loved to play Dungeons and Dragons and video games with a small group of friends, and I was on the football team as well. I loved the competition and teamwork of sports, but I also loved the imagination and strategy of gaming.

When my teammates inevitably found out about my gaming habits, they were quite thorough with their mockery. It was one of those crossroads moments in my life. I chose to spend time with the nerds who at least accepted my jockness over the jocks who chose to close their minds completely to the joys of my nerdiness.

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chaostheory1

The Tom Clancy series will always have a special place in the video gaming section of my heart. While the modern monoliths of GTA IV, Bioshock and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare often frequent my hard drive, there exists a small collection of games that are never removed.

Within this group can be found classic adventures, such as Grim Fandango, Age of Empires 2, and the earlier Tom Clancy games. In fact, if someone was to ask me to name my three favourite series of military games based loosely on the novels of the prolific American author Tom Clancy, I’d have no choice but to answer with Splinter Cell, Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six.

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surprise0

In an industry where hype is the rule rather than the exception, there is much joy to be found when a title slips under the radar and catches us unaware of  its quality and vision. Knowing that a sleeper hit can delight as much – or more – than the latest blockbuster release, it’s worth celebrating those titles from last year that arrived with little fanfare, but left with a bang.

In the information age, a game that is able to surprise us is a rare treasure indeed. Follow me over the jump to look at some of the games that defied our expectations, or blindsided us with win, in 2009!

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xbox-360-rrod

The Xbox 360 has been the source of some controversy since its release. Microsoft used their funds as a house-hold name in operating systems, to make sure they can compete in the games console market, much to the dismay of many.

With many exclusive titles, new innovations on the way, and the infamous ‘red ring of death’ (RROD),  join me as I look at what has happened with their journey inside the industry and what the future holds.
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MMORPG-Aion

The MMORPG industry is ever growing, with many new titles being added to the genre each year. I consider myself to be a veteran MMO player, but I know there are many more people out there, with experience vastly superior to mine.

I want to delve into the last 10 years of the industry and find out what makes it tick, what has changed, and if the framework is still the same, so join me, after the break! Read more… »