What was I thinking? – The Italian Job game

14 Jul

I actually quite liked the remake of the Italian Job – with the original, after the first time I saw it the first hour and a bit were spent thinking “Get to the damn heist already”, whereas the 2003 version was more “Get to the da – ooh, Jason Statham, he’s badass”.

The PS2 game of the 2003 film had no such Statham. The best you got was a Mark Wahlberg kind-of-soundalike who never actually appears. The only moving objects in the game are the shockingly blandly rendered cars. It’s been a while, but even the damn flags wouldn’t move.

Of course, I lapped up the chance to drive Minis off tiny ramps (I always chose the old-style Mini because it made a slightly less uncool noise), but then I was still at the stage where £40 for a game was untold riches, and I’d enjoy one new game every three months or so, during which time I’d have to save my pennies – if I started thinking something I spent that amount of money on was actually kinda bad, I’d stay in bed all day, weeping and eating Fondant Fancies.

In fact, it wasn’t just ‘kinda bad’. It was dreadful. Every car other than yours looked like a box with tinted windows drawn on in crayon, and when you crashed into them in a vain attempt to wring some fun from this damp, oily rag of a game, rather than flipping over into a million pieces they’d stop dead and bounce from side to side, as if they’d installed those Pimp My Ride-style hydraulics which had just become sentient and angry. A bit funny the first time. Depressingly lazy design the next.

Normally I’d have a picture here to liven things up, but I want to convey how dull this game was.

Besides the story mode (where the mission ‘drive here, drive away from these guys, drive back here’ was repeated seventeen-odd times, slightly differentiating where you had to drive to and from. Except the last three missions, where it was exactly the same but with three different coloured Minis) and the Free Ride mode, there was Stunt Mode. If I am ever angry, when I should be simply ‘annoyed’, it’s because Stunt Mode pushed up my rage threshold and it stuck. -The aim was to drive a Mini along a stunt course, so over ramps, along impossibly narrow bridges made of magic unbreakable timber, and up over impossibly narrow ramps made of magic unbreakable MDF. It was a joke. Fall off (likely. It’s a car) and you had to start again. Finish outside the time limit and you had to start again. Try turning the game off so you can play something less infuriating and it would extend a shoe on a stick from the back of the console and kick you in the neck, and you had to start again. Imagine Mirror’s Edge where you play as Jabba the Hut. It’s kind of like that.

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