Math has never my forte, but even I can recognize the brand new formula that's been popping all over the videogame industry:
Really, who knew? However, just because it's a veritable cash cow doesn't necessarily mean that a good game will always result. Enter Driv3r, an action/driving game that tries its hand at this formula, but carries over its 3 in the wrong place somewhere along the road.
It might be kinda obvious given the name, but Driv3r has a strong emphasis on driving rather than on-foot action. That's a plus however, since most of the on-foot action is rather weak. Simply put, it's just not compelling or fun. There's no depth to it, no strategy behind it, and it feels like you're just going through the motions. Likewise, the missions have mundane objectives that are riddled with bugs and inconsistencies. Enemy AI is flat out bad, too. Often, enemies will just stand in the same spot when you're firing at them and will never openly pursue you when you leave a room. It effectively makes them mindless target practice that fires back.
On the other hand, the driving portions fare a bit better. A lot of the missions revolve around somewhat elaborate car chases, which can be a good deal of fun. Granted, it's nothing new as there are few changes in the mechanics from even the original Driver. Still, it's the hard to deny the blood pumping thrills that race through you when there are several cops on your tail and you're going full throttle down a traffic-congested road. Unfortunately, there's very little room for error in the driving missions. A lot of the times, it felt like I completed missions due to luck since the mission constraints are extremely strict, ensuring that I often found myself in a loading screen. It can make the Undercover mode, the meat and bones of Driv3r, an incredibly frustrating experience.
However, the thing that made games in the vein of Grand Theft Auto so fun to begin with can't be found in Driv3r: an enjoyable city to run around in. Simply put, the cities just seem dead. There are few things to interact with that make each city seem alive, and there are even fewer points of interest to keep your attention while you're driving around.
Unfortunately, the unpolished graphics don't help make the city anymore interesting either. There's a good deal of pop-up and the textures lack detail, making for a bland and forgettable cityscape. The actual cars, however, do look nice even when they're banged up beyond repair. That's countered, of course, by the framerate hitches that often occur and kill any hopes for fluidity.
Driv3r has its enjoyable moments every now and then, but it's heavily outweighed by the tedious and frustrating moments that pop up far more often. At best, it's a rental, but otherwise just driv3 right on by and leave this one on the store shelves.
Man, I really didn't like this game at all. Driv3r's biggest downfall is its heavy use of the Grand Theft Auto franchise style of play and its seeming inability to come up with any sort of unique approach to a tremendously successful idea. Come to think of it, it really must take some effort for a game to lean so heavily on a successful model and fail.
As in past versions of Driver, Driv3r has you taking on the role of undercover FBI agent Tanner as he tries to thwart a Miami car thief ring set on stealing 40 cars to ship out of town. I'll save you from one of my tirades about the game and not go into how remarkably cheesy that plot is. You spend most of your time in the game either trying to work with the game's bad car driving mechanics or trying to jostle the jerky visage of Tanner around objects.
I'm probably being a little harsh on the drive mechanics; it's just that the vehicle's controls are far too loose to even qualify as arcade style driving. It's more like bad movie chase scene driving. Fortunately, you do get to spend a fair bit of time out of your car. Unfortunately, that means you have to deal with Tanner.
Man, I don't know what the deal is with this game, but controlling Tanner was just ridiculously frustrating. He tends to get hooked on stuff and most annoying, at least to me, he's got this stiff-legged little hop that Atari far too optimistically calls a jump which does nothing other than frustrate you. It certainly does little to actually clear an object.
To make things worse, the graphics are grainy and plagued by dipping frame rates and the sound is just fair.
I found Driv3r to be one of the most annoying games I've played in quite awhile. It's not that it unequivocally reeks, it's that it provides enough substance and possibilities to make you constantly realize that you should be having fun while you are playing it but aren't.