Format: Xbox

3 546430 109809
Age Restrictions: 16+
25 June 2004

Take on the role of Tanner, a ruthless undercover cop and a fearless driver, as he becomes immersed in a global car theft ring. A mysterious buyer has ordered 40 stolen high performance cars. Tanner wants to know who the buyer is, and he intends to stop the deal going through; but he is always one step away from his cover being blown, and time is running out...

The third in the Driver franchise (the first two games were available on the Playstation) features over 70 playable vehicles, including cars, bikes, boats and buses. You can collect eight different weapons, including handguns, machine guns and grenade launchers. And there are over 30 story integrated missions, over 30 movie sequences featuring the voice talents of Michael Madsen, Ving Rhames, Michelle Rodriguez and Micky Rourke. The game also contains three highly detailed cities: Miami, Nice and Istanbul.

Fans of the original Driver series will no doubt be keen to see whether this lives up to the hype. The graphics are amazing - both in game and the linking video sequences. The gameplay and sound is vastly improved and this could have been the one must own game of the year.

However, there are faults - and they are not minor ones either. Remember the bugs on the first two games (lack of memory meant that the movie director worked fine for anything less than 5 minutes, then the camera had to be positioned behind the car for the rest of the playback. Also, your car had a habit of crashing - which resulted in the game freezing as the scenery rotated over and over). While these bugs don't seem to be evident in the third instalment, there are other, more annoying problems.

The movie director seems to be very problematic. On finally finishing one of the really long and complex missions, I decided to watch the automatic movie director to view the level again. However I noticed that several of the guys I had shot and killed didn't die - and continued to shoot at me. Not only that, but I got stuck behind a wall - which I hadn't when I played the game - and then ended up dying. So, I had to restart that level. The only other time I used this function, was to make my own movie of another level - which I didn't manage to complete. I completed directing the replay and then saved the finished result. However, on playing back the finished movie I noticed there were several camera angles that had been replaced with random angles which didn't follow the action the way I had intended.

I also noticed that the game occasional crashes for no apparent reason and you can sometimes drive through solid walls. The bad guys also have a habit of occasionally dying again and again. While this is funny - watching them die, stand up and then die repeatedly - it can prevent you from completing some of the missions

Another issue I had originally with the game was the poor design of the on-foot missions - when you run around on foot it is really difficult to navigate. Moving the control lever to the left or right simply has you side-stepping, instead of heading in the direction you want to go (so you can't see where you are travelling). However, as you don't spend that much time on foot this is not a big deal. Also, when you are on foot you are going to be using your guns most of the time - so the configuration that makes it a pain to walk around actually makes it simpler to aim your weapon at the bad guys.

The AI is flawed too - the other cars don't get out of your way (like they do in games like Grand Theft Auto) when you are in a police car with sirens blaring out, and it is possible to shoot a whole group of bad guys without them ever firing off a shot in your direction. Cops also don't get out of their cars when they are chasing you. So, to stop the police threat, when you are being pursued, it is simply a matter of getting out of your car and shooting the cops dead. Also, many of the streets are deserted, which can cause a serious problem with time based missions - it's very frustrating to have to run around looking for a vehicle.

But, and this may seem a little contradictory, these bugs and problems can almost be overlooked due to the fact that the main gameplay is very addictive. It's also very unforgiving in places and can be quite frustrating when you have to keep repeating sections - but this makes completing these sections all the more rewarding.

While I'm loathed to compare this to the Grand Theft Auto range of games, there are many similarities. However, Driv3r isn't a patch on them. While the scenery in Driv3r is beautifully detailed, you are usually in such a rush to complete a mission that you don't get the opportunity to explore your surroundings properly.

If the annoying bugs had been ironed out this game would have received 9/10. But, sadly there are way too many problems with this release that, considering it costs £45, should not be there.

Great game - just below par presentation.

Pete Boomer

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