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DRIV3R offers some highly memorable moments, but is sadly let down by some woeful aspects...
A lot has already been said about DRIV3R; certainly opinion has been split down the middle ferociously, with some sources suggesting that high scores have come as a result of â??friendly dealsâ? with Atari, whilst others have brutally savaged the title.
TVG however deems such an aspect to be immaterial to the actual quality of the game, and as we reported in our First Look at the title, DRIV3R features some moments of excellence, but ultimately compounded by some severely sloppy sections and the atrocious appearance of bugs/glitches.
DRIV3R marks the long-overdue return of Tanner, a no-holds barred undercover member of the police force, who must infiltrate an illegal car-smuggling that sees him moving from his home town of Miami to Nice and ultimately on to Istanbul.
Securing such talents as Michael Madsen, Mickey Rourke, Michelle Rodriguez, Ving Rhames and Iggy Pop gives an indication of the high-production values at work in DRIV3R, and in this respect it canâ??t be faulted. The game creates a highly cinematic experience through stunning cinematics, high-quality voice acting and an overall slick presentation.
Certainly the game has it strengths and itâ??s fair to say the game gets more engrossing as you progress further within, particularly the Nice and Istanbul locations are far more exciting then the straight streets of Miami. There is a definite split between the game, with the actual driving missions providing some gruelling chase sequences and highly memorable moments; one particularly noteworthy mission taking place in Nice requires you to â??borrowâ? three different sports-cars and drive them to a mobile transporter which is driving around the city at the same time.
The exaggerated physics that have become a trademark quality of the Driver series once again return, helping to ensure that the game replicates the feel of popular 70â??s cop shows such as Starsky & Hutch. The slightest push on the thumbstick will send you sliding around corners, whilst cars literally fly through the sky with the greatest of ease; personally weâ??ve come to love this style of driving, although it certainly appears to be down to personal choice.
Itâ??s just a shame that much like Driver 2 before it, the overall experience is woefully let down by some atrocious on-foot sections and a complete lack of testing and final polish. Being specialists in the driving genre, itâ??s fair to say that Reflections just havenâ??t been able to execute the on-foot aspects with the same level of distinction. These missions are straightforward run-and-gun material with some extremely stiff and awkward controls; to make matters worse the game suffers from lacking AI (watch those guys just stand and take your bullets) and some severe bugs/glitches which make controlling the character and camera all but impossible at times.
Whether or not Atari were forced to release DRIV3R without another costly delay remains to be seen, however even Driver fanatics will find themselves harshly disappointed to know that a few more months in development could have eased some of the bug/glitches issues and made more of the memorable moments â?“ quite frankly DRIV3R could have been stunning, however itâ??s fallen short of the mark simply because of the rush to get it out.
One aspect that stems from Reflections previous title, Stuntman, is the emphasis on trial-and-error gameplay; in an effort to ensure that the overall gameplay experience looks as cinematic as possible, Reflections have gone overboard when it comes down to scripted events, as such you can expect trucks to dart out at the last moment to thwart your chase. The main issue that stems from this is that youâ??ll find yourself playing missions over and over again, doing whatâ??s wrong to realise the correct way of completing a mission. Naturally the intention is to create exciting, memorable replays to watch and save via the Film Editor that accompanies the completion of every stage; however once again this aspect is flawed and will likely not be used once the initial novelty wears off.
As we revealed in our earlier First Look at DRIV3R, the Xbox version features Xbox Live! compatibility; although sadly this isnâ??t the online â??cops â??nâ?? robbersâ? that we were hoping for, but simply the ability to send saved replays to your friends.
Visually thereâ??s no doubting that the game is impressive, with a nice overall look complemented with good lighting/shadow effects, good texture details and generally speaking densely modelled locations and impressive vehicle models. There are some aspects which let the overall look down, such as a wobbly framerate on both versions â?“ quite unforgivable given that an atrocious framerate was one of the major issues in Driver 2.
On a music level the game impresses, featuring a selection of licensed music that ranges from ambient, chilled tunes to more aggressive rock for the action moments. It suits the game perfectly and helps to further the slick and stylish feel of DRIV3R. Certainly the voice acting is equally impressive, although we could probably have done with more actually in-game as opposed to just in the cinematics.
Whilst the main game will last players between 10-12 hours, DRIV3R contains a series of secondary modes much like previous games in the series. You can drive around the cities in your own time thanks to the â??Free Rideâ? mode, whilst the game contains a wide variety of driving games such as Survival and Checkpoint Race; sadly this also suffer from bug/glitches issues, whilst weâ??d liked to have seen at the very least the ability to upload your scores on these to an online leaderboard.
Much like Atari’s Enter the Matrix before it, DRIV3R appears to have come under a great deal of criticism, and whilst bug issues should never be tolerated some of the attacks appear to be a little unjustified. There’s some enjoyment to be gained, but it’s highly likely that the unfinished feel of the game and frustrating glitches will have you returning to the shop to ask for an exchange.