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July 27, 2004
DRIV3R - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
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With over 12 million sales of Driver and Driver 2 on PSOne and PC there was little doubt that the third game, DRIV3R, would be a highly anticipated title upon release. Indeed pre-orders were monstrous and Atari shipped a whopping 3 million units of the game on the first day. Can this game, however, live up to the hype? Atari and Reflections are hoping that this game can do for them what Grand Theft Auto has done for Rockstar and Take Two Interactive. That is, make the more money then the Australian national deficit.

You play Tanner a ruthless undercover cop and a fearless driver. In DRIV3R Tanner is immersed in a global car theft ring. A mysterious buyer has ordered 40 stolen high performance cars. It's your job as Tanner to find out who the buyer is, before your cover is blown.

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Just another carjacking.
The game starts out in the American city of Miami before heading to Nice in France and Istanbul in Turkey. In all, DRIV3R boasts 156.14 miles of road and 35,768 buildings. Impressive stats for any game and indeed the locations all look authentic - probably more so then almost every other game on the market.

DRIV3R incorporates two main styles of gameplay. These are the driving sections, and on-foot sections. Let's start with the driving. This game includes over 70 playable vehicles including motorcycles, boats, police cars, vans, mopeds, muscle cars and 18-wheelers. One thing is certain Reflections know how to develop a game that not only looks wonderful when cruising through the streets, but which also handles very well. It really is a joy just to hop in a car and cruise around one of the cities. Each vahicle has a different feel to it, although the interaction with the scenery can be erratic. One minute you'll go crashing through pieces of scenery, then next you'll get stuck on the smallest item or post.

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The graphics can look awesome.
During the on-foot sections of the game are much less impressive. Tanner has 8 different weapons at his disposal, including handguns, machine guns and grenade launchers among others. While Grand Theft Auto: Vice City wasn't brilliant in the action sections it was infinately more enjoyable then this title. DRIV3R doesn't seem fun, the targeting is bad and there are far too many glitches to enjoy this section of the game including getting stuck on pieces of scenery causing your inopportune demise.

Unfortunately while every game has its faults, this game has a few too many, and sadly they are faults which could have been resolved given a bit more time in the development studio. One major issue is poor learning curve. Some missions are dead simple, then some horrifically hard, then some simple and so on. Surely the developers should have leveled this out somewhat. Also the game lacks freedom. Unlike the Grand Theft Auto games which allowed you to give up on a mission play around in the city and come back to it later this game keeps you fairly well on task which is a shame given the detail in the cities. The AI of the enemies is rudimentary at best with enemies running around to pre-determined locations when spotted. Start shooting them and they'll rarely move for cover let alone call for backup or run away to regroup and come back at you.

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Collisions are impressive.
With around an hour of pre-rendered cut-scenes this game fleshes out the storyline fairly well, and looks great in the process. Fortunately these great looks don't stop with the pre-rendered scenes, the three cities all look wonderfully detailed and authentic while the car models are wonderfully detailed.

There are some issues with the graphics engine. Firstly it struggles to keep up with the pace while driving around at times with some object popping up in front of the car giving you precious little time to react. The game includes some poor clipping and collision detection at time. Within the first mission I moved Tanner near the car and he did some weird teleportation from the ground to standing near the roof the car and back and forth.

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The cities do look authentic.
Sound is one area where this game really excels with Reflectiosns securing some of the best talent in Hollywood to voice the game including Michael Madsen (Kill Bill, Donnie Brasco and Reservoir Dogs) voices the games hero Tanner, Ving Rhames ( Mission: Impossible series, Pulp Fiction and Con Air) voices Tanner's partner Tobias Jones, Mickey Rourke (Once Upon a Time in Mexico, The Thin Red Line and 9 1/2 Weeks) voices Jericho, and Michelle Rodriguez (S.W.A.T., The Fast and the Furious and Blue Crush) voices Calita, the leader of a Miami car theft ring. Some effort has been put into the dialogue. It sound polished and realistic and is certainly up there with the best of them.

General in-game music is impressive while Reflections have also used 12 licensed tracks through the game - not so impressive next to Grand Theft Auto: Vice City which has hundreds of licensed tracks. Sound effects are pretty good, with the cars sound particularly solid.

DRIV3R will go down as one of the biggest disappointments on Playstation 2 alongside Enter The Matrix - another Atari game. With more spit and polish this game could have been up there with Grand Theft Auto, sadly it isn't even in the same league. Having said that, those looking for something to keep them entertained until Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas comes out in three months, will get some joy out of this title - if you can stand the glitches and unbalanced learning curve.

Review By: David Warner

GRAPHICSVery nice to look at, but still some very bad glitches and pop-up.
SOUNDThe solid voice cast pays dividends, music and effects are good.
GAMEPLAYThe story and missions are good, the game needed more balancing.
VALUEPlenty of missions, but little incentive to replay the game.
OVERALLI can sum DRIV3R up in two words: Disappointingly unpolished.

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