Comedic Cockney Car Capers are about as British as Fish & Chips. The Italian Job being the undisputed lord and master, despite not receiving as much acclaim in the United States (although they did get a remake in ’03). In 2001, almost 40 years after the film’s release, Pixelogic created a driving sim to take on the licence of The Italian Job.
In London during the swinging 60s, we take control of Charlie, who’s planning a big push on some gold bullion. A plan involving a lot of Minis, chases, and only blowing the bloody doors off. The game does a lot to try to evoke the Italian job. Even the missions themselves have Charlie as a narrator. Pixelogic has managed to get a rather delightful Michael Caine impersonator to provide the briefings. Even if you decide not to try out the game, I implore you to check out the cutscenes to behold such an impersonation.
The main ‘story’ follows Charlie as he attempts car related missions to recruit a crew of thieves in order to perform a gold bullion heist. Despite some adaptation to fit in the constant need for cars and speed in the game, the plot largely follows the film (at least as much as I remember it). The maps of London and Turin are also quite open, allowing some deviation and motor tactics on certain missions in order to find the quickest route. Even if this means going off-road and into the pedestrian’s ways. London isn’t lawless, and you must do your best to avoid the cop’s attention, they are quite persistent but can be out-ran, if you’re quick enough and that depends on the motor you are using (like in real life, can handle very differently.) If the Old Bill reveals your licence plate, it’s game over.
Outside of the main story, there are a plethora of added modes. There’s Destructor, where you have to go around knocking down plastic cones under a time limit, another is called Checkpoint, where you must drive through checkpoints under a time-limit while dodging rush hour traffic. If you just want to take in the rendered 60s London and Turin you can take the cars that you’ve unlocked on a Freeride, not only is his mode good for practising navigating Pixelogic’s interpretation of 60s London, there are some hidden mini-games too.
The Italian Job does a fair deal to capture the thriving, scrappy, and humorous spirit of the film it takes its inspiration from. A cheerful and confident race-and-chaser that can draw hours of fun from a 1 & 3/4 hours property. The Italian Job as a game is a fun past-time, and as an adaptation, it more than self-preservers.
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