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Italian Job Package Art
 GENRE
  Racing
 DEVELOPER
  Climax
 PUBLISHER
  Eidos Interactive
 NUMBER OF PLAYERS
  1-2
 CONNECTIVITY
  no
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Italian Job

You can just start to smell the scent of summer's licensed film season coming to an end, but not before yet another mediocre title based on a blockbuster film. While “Blockbuster” may be too large a term for The Italian Job, who’s total domestic box office gross isn’t even expected to break a hundred million, it still received critical acclaim considering it was based off the 1969 Michael Caine film of the same name. The premise of the film basically centers on a group of thieves who plan a heist and then uses a combination of traffic jams and Mini Coopers in order to get away Scott-free. This is a cool setup for a videogame, without a doubt. Unfortunately, it doesn’t pay off or use its full potential as an actual racer. With more attention to graphical detail, a decent physics engine, and better, tweaked controls, Eidos could have pulled off a great licensed title. As it stands, The Italian Job, like the box office intake of its Hollywood counterpart, falls flat.

visuals

While the cut scenes taken from the film look excusably compressed, the in-game visuals look terrible in comparison to other racing titles available today. The vehicles look like large moving boxes without detail, any significant amount of collision detection, or for that matter, any actual special effects like real-time reflections. The areas are huge, but the buildings, streets, and other ambient scenery are devoid of any sense of architecture, detail, or any life whatsoever. The streets are completely deserted! No pedestrians! The Walk of Fame is completely devoid of tourists! It’s a strange and ultimately unwelcome feeling. Driving the licensed Mini Cooper, Cooper S, and original 60’s Cooper is fun, but more licensed cars may have helped to increase interest in the line-up. The main draw to this title is through the Minis, obviously, but it isn’t as fun as it sounds if they don’t even look good.

audio

Sound is the one area where The Italian Job doesn’t show its faults overly much. The music is mildly entertaining, even though none of it is actual tracks from the excellent soundtrack of the film. Most of the music in the game is filled with upbeat pop tempos, which is more or less a welcome addition to each level. The sound effects are average at best with good car crunching sounds and various vehicular noises. The sound of a car crashing into a metal pole verges on painful and that sound effect alone is probably the most impressive feature of the title. The voice acting in the cut scenes aren’t done by the film’s stars but still provides a decent amount of storytelling expertise.

gameplay

There are three main modes that make up the core of The Italian Job. Story mode follows the plot of the movie through several point-A-to-point-B missions. Circuit mode pits players against three other opponents through several race courses across several different environments. Finally, Stunt mode takes the player into several stunt courses that don’t necessarily have anything to do with the film, but are still fun to traverse. Of all those game modes, the latter is the most fun. While the meat of this title belongs to the Story mode, the Stunt mode is sort of like the delicious side dish you’d rather have as a full meal. To put it in basic terms, the Stunt mode is the macaroni and cheese of The Italian Job. This mode offers the player a tightly laid out course wherein you climb up, down, and across hurdles and obstacles in order to rack up stunt points and make it to the end in record time with minimal car damage. Sure it may have been done before, but just like mac and cheese, it doesn’t get old.

The Circuit mode is a very slow, clunky racing mode that feels more like a slapdash mini-game than anything else. Fortunately, it still offers a bit more lasting value to the title overall, but not without a few glaring flaws. If you miss a turn and can’t find your way back to the course, you might as well start over since it doesn’t position your car back on the track and you could go on forever trying to find your way back. Sure, exploring the city is nice, but that’s what the game’s “Free Roam” mode is for. Also, there are only four racers total, including you, so it doesn’t offer any type of challenge for experienced gamers. The A.I. is well tuned, however, as you’ll hardly see an opponent race a perfect lap. They’ll crash into other cars and walls just like you.

The Story mode is much different from the other modes available. Following the plot of the movie, players drive through several missions in order to meet certain goals. While this mode provides several different missions, they all feel the same even after changing vehicles. Also, some “pursuit” modes can be frustrating as the opponent’s A.I. is somewhat on the cheap side. The police’s idea of stopping you is to ram head on into your car. Effective, but it can get on one’s nerves rather quickly. Another downside is the length, which is roughly six or seven hours of playtime, which would easily be consumed in a single rental. Thankfully, the missions follow the cool story from the film, so the plot isn’t boring or tedious. The movie’s plot and license doesn’t warrant a purchase in this case, though.

multiplayer

There is only one multiplayer mode, which supports only two players and can only be played in the game’s unpolished Circuit mode. Why the game doesn’t support four players, (which is, oddly enough, the number of racers on each track), is completely beyond my knowledge. On the other hand, it can still be fun to switch off in Stunt mode to see who can achieve the highest score, or in this author’s case, see who can be humiliated by the other player the most.

overall

While The Italian Job isn’t a horrible game, it is still a bad licensed title which is hard to recommend to any gamer other than hardcore racer fanatics. It still has its highlights, such as the Stunt mode, but falls short without the proper attention to detail that other arcade racers such as Burnout 2: Point of Impact have. Hopefully someone will be able to create a licensed racing title worthy of the casual gamer’s attention. In the meantime, give this a quick rental to see if you like it. If you do, congratulations, you’ve just beaten the game!

final score 6.0/10





WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar Austin Starr
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"If life's not beautiful without the pain / well I'd just rather never ever even see beauty again"


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