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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

Atari

 

Developer

Reflections Interactive

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

Q3 2004

 

 

- Film Director mode allows you to become an instant action-genre auteur
- Undercover Mode story will take a while to complete

 

 

- Completely buggy and glitch-filled gameplay
- Sub-par and uninteresting gameplay is nowhere near the fun of the latest GTA installments
- Below-average visuals with overwhelming graphical pop-up problems
- Infuriating replaying over and over of one-mistake-and-your-done missions before moving on in the story
- Unpredictable shooting controls

 

 

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Driv3r

Score: 4.0 / 10

 

driver 3 review        driver 3 review

 

It’s hard to call Driv3r – let’s call it Driver 3 from here – a copycat game of the Grand Theft Auto (GTA) franchise, because in reality it is GTA that ripped off the basic gameplay mechanics developed by the first Driver game on the PlayStation. But while Rockstar has taken the Driver formula and crafted a couple of magnificent action/driving games, the Driver series has driven completely off the road it paved, becoming a complete and total flaming wreck in its latest appearance, Driver 3. Filled with overwhelming bugs and glitches, Driver 3 comes nowhere close to possessing the horsepower capable of catching the nitro-powered wonderfulness of GTA, which is superior to Driver 3in every way in terms of quality and gameplay.

Following in the footsteps of the previous Driver games, the heavy brunt of Driver 3’s gameplay and story gives player’s ample opportunity to be placed in the driver’s

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seat, starting in Miami. A buyer wants to illegally purchase 40 exotic cars that have a street value of $20 million bucks and a car-thieving ring is happy to oblige by ripping off these cars. Undercover hard-boiled cop Tanner is on the case to stop them, using any means possible while traveling from Miami to Italy to Istanbul. The story is actually not bad, although it borrows a tad too much from the movie “Gone in 60

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Seconds.” Add some solid voice acting from a stable of Hollywood veterans (Michael Madsen, Ving Rhames, and Michelle Rodriquez; Iggy Pop and the always-resuscitating-his-career-somewhere-or-other Mickey Roarke also lend their voices).

By the way, because it lacks any vehicle license (just like GTA) the cars are all generically-designed-but-somehow-familiar versions of real-life autos. Strangely, although the game takes place in current times, most of the cars look like they have been transported right out of the muscle-car era of the 70’s (compared to GTA: Vice City’s use of 80’s-inspired cars that perfectly fit into the game’s 80’s setting.)

The story’s not the problem, however. The plot of Driver 3 is actually carried out very well with good cut-scenes carrying it forward. But there’s no spark and shine from the story flowing over into the core gameplay. Simply put, Driver 3 lacks any gameplay personality whatsoever, which is made even more glaringly apparent when placed side-by-side with GTA. GTA has a great balance of different and creatively designed missions. Driver 3 can push you to the brink of becoming comatose at times. GTA: Vice City had an amazing soundtrack that was brilliantly weaved into the game and was just as much fun listening to all the radio stations and the nostalgic 80’s tunes they played as playing the game itself. Driver 3 relies on relatively unmemorable music that doesn’t even play in the Driver 3 cars themselves you will spend the majority of the game.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg of Driver 3’s major gameplay dilemmas. After frustratingly finally completing the entire game, I can only deduce that Driver 3 was rushed onto store shelves before getting a fully thorough quality-assurance testing. There are a multitude of glitches that really leave Driver 3 dead on the road, making the game nearly unplayable and completely a dragging letdown at many junctures.

 

driver 3 review        driver 3 review


This game is exasperatingly full of glitches. You can get “stuck” into static features of the environment such as underneath a partially concealed staircase. Attempting to jump out of boats onto docks many times causes Tanner to erupt into a frenzied frozen-in-air shaking fit. You can drive on many curbs without incident, but other times will crash and burn on a similar-sized obstruction. Other times the game simply locks up completely. Shooting errors abound too. Even with your weapon’s targeting reticle placed on an enemy, your bullets will sometimes have no ill effects on the guy you’re shooting while conversely his gunfire is shredding you.

Other missions allow you to “cheat” by letting you kill enemies in rooms or tight confines by you simply staying near doorways or cover where you can just slightly target an enemy. You can shoot them, and they act like they aren’t even being shot at, even though they are quickly dying. I was able to clear the very last mission, which was supposed to be a knock-em-down-drag-em-out gunfight, by keeping at the edge of an alleyway and shooting at my leisure the main bad guy, Jericho. This is one buggy game that will drive you crazy trying to figure out its idiosyncrasies.

Another problem with Driver 3 is that to progress from mission to mission, get prepared to replay missions over and over and over and over. It took me sometimes at least 50 tries before passing individual mission objectives. Many driving missions require you to follow or chase other driving characters. But the problem is they are given first-class driving skills while racing around narrow city streets. Just one simple mistake (which is easy to make because of the hazards like trees and light posts that obstruct your driving path) and you lose the driver you’re tying to follow or chase. The game demands perfection -- never mind how imperfect the game is itself!

Not helping the demanding missions is an absolutely horrid control system. Complete with a bad camera, controlling Tanner is difficult, both in-and-out-of-car missions. Weaponry shooting aiming is not reliable either. Trying to lock onto a target is ridiculously uneven; sometimes it’s easy to get a bead on someone you’re trying to shoot; many times it isn’t.

Compounding the legion of Driver 3’s problems is a below-average visual presentation with weak graphics. On top of that, pop-up problems galore negatively affect the game. Vehicles will just “pop” onto the road in front of you, giving you little time in many instances to avoid them. With Driver 3’s challenging difficulty already, this just makes it a lot more maddening. Enemies also just “pop” out in rooms or areas where you seemingly had just already cleared all enemies from. The supposedly open world touted by Driver 3 isn’t as open-ended as advertised. Invisible wall after invisible wall prevent traveling to every niche of the Driver 3 realm.

What’s funny about Driver 3’s ESRB Mature rating is that there’s actually not that much blood, gore, or profanity to warrant being slapped with “M” status. Strangely, you’re able to off anybody you want in the game, but you are supposed to be a law enforcement officer, albeit one that doesn’t always follow the rules. Missing for unknown reasons to anybody but the development team, you would think there would be some sort of gameplay punishment for acting too recklessly outside the bounds of the law’s jurisdiction. But there isn’t. Police will respond to accidents, but if you leave the scene nothing happens. Accidentally shooting or driving over police officers or innocent bystanders doesn’t affect your game one bit. I would have rather had the incentive to avoid punishment or arrest (as in GTA) as the reason why Driver 3 is so difficult instead of its glitch-filled gameplay.

Only one game mode offers any kind of interesting appeal to gamers, particularly those with aspirations to become the next big John Woo-esque action-movie director. You can take saved replays and edit them. It can be a lot of fun and you can also upload your movies through Xbox Live for others to download, watch and enjoy.

If Driv3r were a car, it would be recalled for crippling performance issues. Having Driver 3’s storyline placing the hero flat-lining with his survival in doubt in an emergency room at the end of the game is ironic, because after playing this clearly deficient game, you’ll really, really be rooting that he doesn’t live on for a sequel. Despite the fact it was the original playa in the action/driving genre, the Driver series is clearly outclassed by Rockstar’s flagship franchise.

- Lee Cieniawa
lcieniawa@armchairempire.com
(August 4, 2004)

 

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