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Instead of confirming the semi-official Wii version of Driver: Parallel Lines, Ubisoft is now surprising us with the announcement of Driver 76 - a new PSP game set to continue Reflections Interactive's intense driving series. Reminiscent of the kick-ass Interstate 76 (which is still likely to bring back memories...), Driver 76 will actually act as a prequel for Driver: Parallel Lines, as it follows a story that takes place two years earlier. Even more surprising is that the game is already speeding towards its nearing release date, set in March 2007.

This will be the first new Driver game to be released since Ubi acquired the franchise for a whopping $24 Million in July 2006, clearly implying that they have big plans for it in the future. Although the team from Reflections still plays a part in developing Driver 76, it appears that the game is primarily being developed by Sumo Digital - a name that should ring a bell or two, if you hold yourself as an avid fan of racing games. The most relevant games developed by Sumo so far were Outrun 2 (2004), ToCA Race Driver 2 (2005, PSP port) and Outrun 2006: Coast to Coast (2006). So there's no doubt they have what it takes to make a fun driving game, and hopefully one that will resemble the original Driver, more than any other title in Reflections' since-compromised series.

There is no media available for Driver 76 at this time, and what little information is contained in Ubi's announcement, you can find below:

"Faithful to the brand spirit, Driver 76 is an action driving game that features Hollywood-style car chases while also letting the player experience the open environment on foot. The game thrusts the player into the heart of the 1970s, through 27 missions divided into six main plots. Players can take side jobs, earning cash that can be used to modify their rides. Driver 76 also offers an extensive multiplayer mode and a host of mini-games ranging from street races to all out carnage in Destruction Derby mode.

Features Include:

- All-New Content Developed Exclusively for the PSP system – Twenty-seven all-new missions created for the PSP system.

- Prequel Storyline to Driver Parallel Lines – The year is 1976, two years before Driver Parallel Lines.

- Multiplayer Games and Downloadable Content – Games include Street Racing, Destruction Derby, Pink Slip Racing and Swap Meet. Also download new paintjobs to use on your collected vehicles in the garage.

- Experience Open Environments in Authentic 1970's New York – All the architecture, music, cars and clothes of the '70s. Spans New York from Jersey to Coney Island.

- Vehicle Modification System – Collect your favorite vehicles and complete side job missions to get the cash to modify your ride.

- High-Speed Hollywood Racing Action – High-speed car races and crashes. Go even faster by customizing your car with special parts.

- Authentic '70s Soundtrack – Immerse yourself in the '70s with classic songs from the decade."

Although I'm not a PSP owner myself, I do hope that Driver 76 will mark the revival of this once-great series.

(N.B. Archive text, links removed)
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