The hype surrounding Driver 3 was immense. From the lavish promo videos, to the initial reports, things seemed to be shaping up well for Reflections new title. It had so much potential. Fours years in the making, and finally I have Driver 3 in my hands. Was it worth the wait?
In one word: no.
This title could have been so much more. But unfortunately, it will always remain in the “could have been” pile, because after so much hype and anticipation, Driver 3 is a mildly entertaining, yet seriously flawed title. When Driver first appeared on the Playstation, it was an instant hit. I remember playing it for the first time, and being completely in awe of it. It captured the essence of a great movie car chase, in one amazing game. I remember the thrill of hurtling down the streets of San Francisco , ducking and weaving in and out of traffic, whilst trying to lose a cop that’s tailing me. It was pure joy.
But that was a long time ago. Things have changed. Since Driver’s initial release, the crime-sim has grown rapidly in popularity, largely thanks to the latest instalments of the Grand Theft Auto franchise. Driver 3 has stiff competition, and pales in comparison.
The premise of Driver 3 remains largely the same as the previous titles: you reprise the role of Tanner, undercover agent and expert cop. This time around, a dangerous gang of car thieves are running amok in Miami . You go undercover, infiltrating their gang, in an attempt to stop them. Cue an adventure which spans the globe, consisting of over 30 missions. The bulk of these are driving missions, but a lot of them involve shooting sections.
This is where the game really lets itself down. The game is roughly divided into two thirds driving, and one third shooting. However, when a fair amount of the game is shooting, you expect the basic actions, such as aiming and movement, to be implemented well, especially with a supposedly high profile game such as Driver 3? Right? Wrong. The movement is jerky, and unresponsive, and the aiming?oh dear. It’s atrocious. You use the left analogue stick to move your character, and the right stick to aim your gun. However, aiming is extremely difficult, especially when moving. It’s unresponsive and slow, and especially when your enemies get their aiming pretty much spot on, every single time, it’s difficult in the middle of a gun battle to move the slow, unresponsive cursor, whilst an enemy is unloading a whole clip into you. It’s extremely irritating, and very frustrating.
However, the enemy AI is awful, so once you kind of get the hang of shooting, you might be able to get through the shooting sections. You might, but it’ll involve a lot of trial and error. The enemies seem to show no intelligence whatsoever. They’ll basically just stand around, waiting to get shot. Sure, they might occasionally hide behind a wall, but they’ll basically stand in the same position, no matter how and where you attack from.
I enter a rooftop from one doorway, three enemies standing there, right in front of me. One stands in the open, facing the doorway, whilst the other two disappear behind a building. First one blasted away with a machine gun. The second and third enemy hide behind a building. The building can be approached via two different ways, by the front, or from behind. If I approach from the front of the building, one will be standing right towards the front of the building, the other towards the back, hiding behind some boxes. I fail the first time around, so my brother suggests that I surprise them from the back. So I try that. I approach from the back of the building, but the enemies are just standing in the exact same positions. The only difference is that they have swivelled round to face me. They don’t approach me, or try a different tactic to kill me ? la Halo or Far Cry. No. They just stand there, in the original positions assigned to them by the developer, and stay there. On a few occasions, an enemy might try to run towards me, but these occurrences are few and far between. In general, the enemies just stay in their designated positions, not trying any other tactic at all. Basically, they’re very dumb.
Well, at least there are the driving sections. That must be the saviour of the game, yeah? Right? Well, to a certain extent, yes. The driving sections are fun, and are typical Driver fare. Evade the police, through hordes or traffic in well-realised cities, whilst trying to complete vital mission objectives. To a certain extent, these sections are the saviour of the game, but when a large portion of the game is on foot, and those sections are virtually unplayable, it still won’t make up for that fault entirely. But even the driving section can seem a bit tiresome sometimes, some of the objectives just driving from point A to B, no real imagination shown in the mission structure.
Another major problem with the game is the amount of bugs found in the game. Reports have been coming in thick and fast of flying cars, invisible walls, and identical looking pedestrians. I’ve come across a few bugs whilst playing Driver 3, but not as many as has been reported. That’s not to say that the bugs don’t exist, they do, and are a major problem with the game. With a high profile release like Driver 3, you’d expect the game to have gone through rigorous testing stages, to make sure the game is bug free. However, this is not the case with Driver 3.
So, in the gameplay department, the title fails to deliver. But on the graphics and audio side, things are a lot better. The graphics for the locations, and the cars, are very good indeed. The textures and the car models look very impressive, and are of an extremely high quality. However, the graphics for the character models, such as the pedestrians, and you’re character, are awful. They look more in place in a PS1 game than a PS2 game.
The soundtrack is very good too, with music from bands such as Hope of the State, to Iggy Pop. The voice acting isn’t bad either, with cameos from Ving Rhames and Michael Madsen. Whilst hearing high quality actors doing the voice-overs is quite cool, it still doesn’t make up for the other horrendous faults apparent in the game.
Despite the time and money spent on Driver 3, it just doesn’t live up to expectations. Worse than that, it’s a catastrophic failure in some ways. Whilst the driving sections may be fun, it’s really let down by the poor AI, horrific on foot stages, and the amount of bugs littered throughout the title. For a high profile title like Driver 3, these faults should have been addressed before release. Unfortunately, they weren’t, and so, Driver 3 will always remain in the ?could have been’ pile, opposed to the ?great’ pile.