Driv3r, more commonly known as Driver 3 (marketed as DRIV3R), is a racing, shooting, and adventure video game. It is the third installment in the popular Driver series and was developed by Reflections Interactive and published by Atari. Driv3r was released in North America for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox on June 21, 2004. In Europe, it was officially released on June 25, although due to the way Atari shipped the title across the continent, it made its way into independent UK retailers before the release date, even making a #6 position in the ELSPA chart for that week. On March 15, 2005, it was released on PC for US customers, it was also released on Game Boy Advance October 25, 2005. A scaled down version was released for the mobile phone in June 2004. At one point a Nintendo GameCube version was planned, but it was later canceled.
Driv3r brings back features from Driver 2 and adds the ability to ride motorcycles and boats, use weapons, swim, climb ladders, and enter certain buildings among other things, as well as controlling more than one character.
The game opens in media res in Istanbul, Turkey, in a shootout between a gang and the Istanbul police. The scene later shifts to the hospital where it shows Tanner and Jericho injured and the doctors examining one of them, and later shows one of them flatlining.
The game goes back six months before in Miami, where undercover police officer Tanner (voiced by Michael Madsen), along with partner Tobias Jones (voiced by Ving Rhames), infiltrating a crime ring known as South Beach which specializes in stolen vehicles. A ruthless woman named Calita (voiced by Michelle Rodriguez) runs the Crime Ring, and there is a weapons specialist Lomaz, and Bad Hand. Tanner convinces them to give him a shot to work for them. Once he is accepted by the group, Tanner begins conducting various jobs for them, in pursuit of a total of 40 stolen high performance vehicles.
South Beach end up having a falling out with a local crime lord named "The Gator", so Calita sends Tanner on a job to blow up The Gator's Superyacht which is docked by an island south of Miami. The feud with The Gator ends when Tanner shoots him into the sea when Calita sends him and Lomaz to kill The Gator, believing him to be dead afterwards. South Beach then moves their operations to Nice, France, and Tanner relocates as well. However, Interpol agents Henri Vauban and Didier Dubois have their own plans to take down the crime ring and are at odds with Tanner. Tanner decides to work the job his own way, which, in several cases, leads him into direct conflict with the Interpol agents.
In Istanbul, Turkey, Tanner is now working as a rogue agent. However, Tanner and Jones are able to find a number of contacts who lead them to the crime ring and its true leader, Jericho (voiced by Mickey Rourke), a former hitman who betrays and kills Solomon Caine, his former boss. Jericho once appeared at a warehouse while Didier Dubois was using a laptop belonging to Calita, first stunning Tanner, who drops his gun, then confronts Tanner and shoots Dubois.
Later, Dubois' partner Vauban tells Tanner that Dubois is in a body bag and the bullets are his. Tanner then walks away and ends his cooperation with the police force, forcing Tanner to escape to the nearest warehouse. Once it is evident that Tanner has found a way to stop the gang from selling the stolen vehicles, he is brought back onto the force and aids in stopping the sale. Following a car chase between Jericho' and his men and the Turkish Police, Tanner faces him in a final showdown. After the long lasting chase between Tanner and Jericho, Tanner, who gains the upper hand, single handedly takes down Jericho. However, just as Tanner is about to kill him, he walks away. Tanner, not realizing that he is caught off-guard, is crashed by Jericho, who tells Tanner that he has made a "mistake", before shooting him and leaving them both critically injured.
The scene shifts back to the hospital and shows a doctor using defibrillator in one of them.
The vehicles in Driv3r are modeled after real life vehicles and are designated to behave as such. For example, bullet holes appear when a car is shot, vehicles only take significant damage when the engine is hit, rims of blown tires screech against the curb, and individual pieces of the car can be shot out or can fall out after taking damage.
Weapons are unnamed in the game. Weapons' firing range and rate vary depending on their type. When the game starts in Take A Ride mode, Tanner is only equipped with one weapon. Other weapons can be claimed by seizing them from police and road gangsters who have been killed, or from hideouts or safehouses. Weapons vary from pistols to grenade launchers.
The PC version of the game has an extra mission called "The Hit". The Xbox version allows for custom soundtracks within the game, although the player cannot change the song track.
After an extensive and intensive promotional campaign, Driv3r was met with mixed to poor critical reaction, with the vast majority of magazines and websites giving the game mediocre scores; IGN and GameSpot both gave the game 5.4 out of 10.
Driv3r was criticized for Tanner's lack of hand-to-hand combat skills and meleé weapons. There were also criticisms for the poor implementation of the 'on the foot' missions. This was also a criticism levelled at Driver 2.
The game won the MegaGames.com award for Worst Game of 2005.
Police AI vehicles were criticized for the use of "doublespeed", a way of cheating in which a pursuing cop would suddenly double its speed making it hard (if not impossible) for the player to escape. The AI can easily stem from the series' long use of rubberband AI. No matter what vehicles players can pick (either fast or slow or even a police car), the police AI seems to always catch up and stay with the player.
Despite generally negative critical reception, the game did receive some positive feedback, as two magazines published by Future Publishing (PSM2 & OXM) gave it 9/10. Having played the game and seen the overall media response, readers of both magazines began to question the integrity of the scores, and a long discussion on Future Publishing's GamesRadar forum saw the mini-scandal dubbed "Driv3rGate" (adding the suffix '-gate' to the name as per media tradition owing to the Watergate scandal). The affair gained a fairly large amount of coverage in the games press and on internet forums and was still being discussed as late as 2008.
Although a number of forums maintained that the magazines had come to a deal regarding publicity with Atari, no proof either way was ever cited and the scandal eventually simply died down.
Notes and references
- ↑ 1UP.com reviews
- ↑ Perry, Douglass C. (2004-06-21). DRIV3R Review. IGN. Retrieved on 2008-05-05
- ↑ Gerstmann, Jeff (2004-06-23). DRIV3R for PlayStation 2 Review. GameSpot. Retrieved on 2008-05-05
- ↑ The Worst Game of 2005 - MegaGames pc
- ↑ Driver 3, incompetence and corruption: one, two or three things
- ↑ Driv3r and corruption, continued
- ↑ Driv3rgate - rllmukforum.com
- ↑ Rob Fahey: A Question of Trust
- ↑ GamesRadar Forum: "Why was the Driv3rgate thread removed?"