Over the past few years we have seen the crime/action genre becoming very popular on the consoles, with everyone coming up with their take on the formulae laid down by Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto; series. We have seen titles like SCEA’s over-hyped The Getaway fail miserably, while others like True Crime: Streets of LA from Activision do quite well. Now it’s Atari’s turn to try and resurrect their Driver series with the third installment - Driv3r for the Microsoft Xbox.
The first two installments of the Driver series were really quite revolutionary for the time of the PlayStation, and were some of the first "good" car/action titles that started the recent trend. The Driver series was one that actually was quite successful but hadn’t made it to where the Grand Theft Auto series did when it hit the next generation console (PS2). Now after quite a long break we have Driv3r for the Xbox, one that tries to show the world another great action driving title.
You play as Tanner (the same character you have been playing with throughout the series) an undercover cop is trying to infiltrate a group of car thieves. The story behind Driv3r is not one that is all that deep or interesting. Throughout the game you will be finding out who is involved, how to get to them, and find out where the vehicles are going. This cut scenes that portray the story look quite good; in fact at first glance I was quite impressed with how well they looked. I must say I was quite intrigued with the game from the opening cut scene but after that things turned ugly really fast.
One of the big problems I have with Driv3r is the fact that you don’t have complete control of where you want to go in the main mode. The main mode of the game is completely linear. You are given a clear cut mission and a cutscene that follows. This is not what millions of fans wanted with they got the GTA series what would make them any different with this game. Once you complete a mission you can then save and continue to the next mission. What is this? You have three nice looking cities to travel in and we are stuck with a linear main mode, this is not a good thing!
Unfortunately I am going to have to talk about quite a bit of negative in this review and it will start with the on-foot play mechanics. Ok you have a game called "Driver" yet you spend a good majority of your time on foot. Go figure. Now this is a big problem in the game. The gameplay on-foot is sloppy and unpolished, and that’s me being kind. Tanner’s movements are just tense and robotic; everything looks so much like it’s still in developmental stages that it’s not even funny. This is not a game that looks like it should be on the market yet, but still in the process of development. The use of the guns in the game is pathetic, the control is way off, and the shooting is monotonous.
The in-car portion is fortunately better then on-foot, but not by a whole lot. I found that the physics while driving around the huge cities to be quite weird. Just the slightest touch of the brakes will give you quite a long skid. It feels like they were going for an arcade style feel to the driving but just didn’t have the courage to pursue it all the way. The physics seem to be to highly boosted, to a point where everything is on overdrive trying to keep the excitement up but instead it just caused frustration.
Ok here is my biggest complaint towards Driv3r, and that’s the fact that you would put the open-ended gameplay into a different mode. Let me get one thing straight right now, we don’t want to have to switch game modes to be able to drive around in cities, that is defeating the purpose. Instead we would love to be able to drive around during the game itself, deciding where and when we want to complete the missions. Therefore the drive around mode in Driv3r doesn’t do much of anything positive for the game.
Overall the gameplay beyond doubt feels incomplete and unpolished. You have a game that has so much potential in the gameplay department but fails to come through in any way shape or form. You have very bland, repetitive gameplay that instead of being fun gets on your nerves more then anything.
When we look back on the previous Driver titles, for there time they were pretty good looking games. I remember being quite impressed with the vehicles, and environments of the Driver 2. Now that the series has made its way onto the next generation consoles how do they do?
Well Driv3r is one of those games that when just sitting there looking at it, it looks quite good. But when the action starts going the graphics start decreasing. There are so many graphical glitches that should have been dealt with during the development stages that it’s just sad it’s on store shelves. Not only are there glitches, the character models are horrible. One word I haven’t used in a while is "jaggies" which I thought we had done away with, but instead were brought back in this game.
Not everything is bad though, I must say the environments are quite nicely designed and have just enough detail. The vehicles go along the same line as the environments with just enough detail to their credit.
Overall the graphics of Driv3r are not all that impressive. If the developers could have made without the glitches and poor character models we would be looking at a solid graphical title, but instead we are left with a lot of problems.
Driv3r is a game that on paper has everything you would need to create a fun long lasting experience. But instead the game is so filled with flaws that it’s really hard to have fun with it. With the linear gameplay you are dealt a very repetitive and uninspired storyline, and unimaginative gameplay. The graphical glitches don’t help matters either, and we are left with a game that we all know could have been fun but turned out quite the opposite.
With all of the hype and anticipation surrounding Driv3r, it’s a shame the game had to fail so miserably like it did. With the faulty gameplay, lackluster storyline, and poor graphics we are left with a game that needed a lot more time in development. Had they done just that, six months from now we could have been looking at a game of the year nominee.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.