Driver has always been a fun game in the past on the Playstation but was quickly ignored when people began to play GTA3. Now the third installment is back but there is some nasty competition. Will this be the ride of your life or just a casual Sunday drive? Read on to find out.

The Game
Placing the disc in the drive and bringing up the menu instantly made me notice the style. It was like a film's menu and the gameplay also reflects this. Jumping into Undercover mode brings up a good quality movie clip showing some key characters including tanner fully rendered. It then places you in your home where you walk out and get in a car. It then tells you that you should head towards the police station. The controls are relatively simple and Tanners movements are just about satisfactory, although, it does look silly when you strafe around. The driving is sadly not as good as it should be. The cars seem to slide everywhere and feel more like paperweight than vehicles. Get hit by a curb badly and you will fly into the air and bounce around like a pinball. This can be very, very frustrating when attempting to chase someone. Anyway the cars do suffice and they become more manageable as you go on. The idea of the game itself is fairly simple. Go to a point chase/be chased maybe with a extra point like do not damage your car. Nothing really special. The first two missions are mainly just practice exercises but when you get to the second cinematic things become a bit more interesting.

Tanner needs to break into a building at this point I'm saying. "Cool, this is like an interactive movie, let's kick this guy's butt!" I head round the side and "Skillfully" take down a couple of thugs... Well actually I just walk round firing at them (oddly they all wear the same clothes, thug fashion statement maybe?). I proceed to run in and the guy I'm after gets in his car and drives off, I'm quickly behind the wheel and pursuing. Unluckily I crash. The guy turns the corner and in big letters across the screen it says 'you lost him'. I just shrug and try again from the begging. After about 3 tries it all becomes very tedious and I turn off because I've lost all the original feeling of an interactive movie. This is a great shame because it should be fun not a chore. This feeling sadly repeats in most missions and if you are like me you will kick and scream shouting that it was the stupid cars handling. This could of been solved easily if they allowed you to explore freely like in GTA 3 but instead they make you stick to the missions in undercover mode.

The other modes include taking a drive which allows you to freely explore with or without police. This is fun but you cannot do much constructive or earn much apart from a few secrets which are very difficult to find. There are mini games to play but these don't compare with the multiplayer mode in the old games which has not been included in Driv3r. Xbox live allows you to share movie clips, okay I guess but think of what of they could of done! Online racing and chasing.

The trend with Driv3r seems to be the fact that everything is not fully developed. Cars handle ruffly, Tanner moves funny, missions could be more interesting... etc. Alot more was to be expected from Driv3r, but it seems to be out shined in every aspect by the Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto III; a letdown for everybody. However, do not get me wrong, this game is good way to pass a few hours of your life if you don't expect the same involvement as GTA3. Driv3r can be funny, and is best played with friends; but it is probably not worth that £40 price tag.

For innovation, Driv3r's contribution is a very rocky thing to rate. The main things include the fact that you can edit your replays to create very impressive movie footage of you being skillful or if you choose crashing your car enough to turn it into a pile of dust. All the options are here; tripod cam, slow-mo and by the wheel cam to mention a few. It may take you a long time to create the perfect directors cut but it is fun. Driv3r is very dependent on your taking to the movies factor, and fair enough. It is very exhilarating hurtling through traffic and watching how "cool" you are in the replay. If you ever wanted to be in an action film try it out. Just don't expect to be given the biggest budget in the world.

Graphics & Sound
The graphics and sound is where Driv3r does stand out. The cities are very detailed and most buildings are look well designed. The weather is also very good for atmosphere and add a certain feels to all of the areas included. Sadly if you are picky like me you will notice that buildings do tend to "appear" from the distance as you approach and shadows "materialise" as you pass by. Mind you nothing is ever perfect. Another thing that has not really been considered is the indoor or compact areas. They feel sparse and not very creative, I wouldn't have frowned on just a small loading period (like in halo) and make it look that bit better.

The dynamic objects like cars and people are very good however and the damage your car gets over time and plenty of crashes is very effective. Your bonnet will fly away and your headlights will crack and when you finally crawl out of a wreckage you will always have a smug grin on your face. It's the little things like this that save the game from being a complete pile of burning rubble.

The sounds are reasonably good but the music can become repetitive and for some reason if you try listening to your own music it just plays the same track over and over again unless you can survive long enough. Just another gripe I have with this game.

Driv3r is a good attempt, but ultimately a disappointment for most driver fans. However, if you would like to star in or direct an action film then give it a go. This is no GTA 3.

Reviewed by Charlie Duke | July 9th 2004 (PAL VERSION)

  • Major acting and scriptwriting talent are involved from the ground up in the creation, production and performance of DRIV3R, including Michael Madsen as Tanner, Mickey Rourke as the sinister Jericho, Michelle Rodriguez as the sexy Calita and Ving Rhames as Tanner's partner, Tobias Jones
  • Three gigantic and true-to-life cities, including Miami, Nice and Istanbul, with more than 30,000 buildings hand-placed and decorated for intricate detail and ultimate immersion
  • More than 150 miles of major highways and city streets to explore plus countless uncharted open areas, alleys, dirt roads and smaller byways
  • A stunning graphics engine capable of creating massive photorealistic environments - both indoor and outdoor - filled with hundreds of destructible objects to be smashed and blasted both in vehicles and on foot
  • Complete destruction models will allow vehicles to crumble realistically as they are bashed, smashed and driven to the limits of their design
  • Unmatched driving and physics engine will create the most realistic vehicle performance in any game
  • A deep, narrative storyline that plays like an interactive movie, recreating the attitude, action and car chase sequences of modern gangster films like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch and Pulp Fiction; nearly an hour of CGI video will flesh out the plot with dramatic scenes of sinister crime syndicate dealings
  • Multiple solutions to missions will allow players to plan strategically before they move in on the crooks and choose between a full frontal assault or a more surreptitious alternative, depending on gameplay tastes
  • Some missions will allow players to switch characters, providing for gameplay variety
  • Driver's signature "Film Director" function, which records every move made in the game, will allow gamers to place cameras anywhere and direct and save their own Hollywood car chase
  • More than 50 controllable vehicles, including motorcycles, boats, police cars, vans, mopeds, muscle cars and fully articulated 18 wheelers
  • Multiple difficulty settings will create compelling gameplay challenges for all levels of gamers, from the new recruit to the hardcore Driver fan

June 2004