When I got my hands on an ultra-cheap second-hand PlayStation One a few years ago, one of the first games I tried out was The Italian Job. I’m not a huge fan of the film (it certainly has its moments, but overall it didn’t think it was that great), but it seemed that this conversion would be a little different from your everyday run-of-the-mill racing game.
In fact it’s a very simple game, but such a lot of fun that you just have to love it. Based roughly on the plot of the film, you play the role of Charlie Croker (Michael Caine’s character), just out of prison and immediately at the wheels of a hot car (the very first level has you driving the car of the Pakistani Ambassador). You have to complete various missions in order to complete the level and progress towards the ultimate goal of stealing four million dollars in gold from Italy.
The Italian Job is basically a series of mad missions involving getting from point A to point B within a specified amount of time while often having to avoid the police. What makes this game so enjoyable is that this very simple game plan is implemented with quite a bit of flair and creativity. You have a big game world to discover and the route you take is up to you. Cops aren’t always your biggest problem, and you don’t always have to stay on the road–stairs can be driven up and down (well, of course… how could you possibly have a game of The Italian Job without being able to drive up and down stairs?) and you sometimes have to jump off ramps. Additionally, some missions have more than one component. It’s never anything very complicated, but the essential parts are wrapped up in a high speed caper that constantly has you on edge.
Though the game’s graphics don’t look all that good (okay, at times they look downright awful), you can see what you’re meant to be doing, and it gives you a reasonable impression of speed. The unashamedly cheesy voice-acting and a pacey music score add greatly to the atmosphere. Basically, this game is a shed-load of fun, and that’s what really matters.