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Driv3r review

Atari's car-crime game offers up pretty graphics, big cities and little else

Pros

  • Big
  • detailed clockwork cities
  • Great-looking visuals
  • Free Ride mode lets you explore

Cons

  • Extremely demanding
  • inconsistent difficulty
  • It's way too easy to "lose" chase targets
  • Cell-phone version is actually the best

Despite the ongoing rivalry between the two series, Atari’s DRIV3R is to Grand Theft Auto what Avril Lavigne is to the Sex Pistols: a slick knockoff that copies the form, but not the substance, of the original.

DRIV3Ris the story of Tanner, a creaky-voiced FBI agent who has carte blanche to steal cars, shoot anyone and destroy property as he goes undercover to bring down an international car-theft ring. You’ll spend your time running around on foot, getting into firefights and driving stolen cars in meticulously detailed clockwork cities, each based on a real-world locale. But unlike GTA and most of its imitators, there’s almost no potential for free-form mayhem. Oh sure, you’ll get to do some stunt driving and shoot innocents every so often, but the game takes players straight from mission to timed mission, with no room for exploration or violent shenanigans in between.

This wouldn’t be a big deal if those missions were at least fun, but DRIV3R'smyriad problems turn them into volcanic exercises in frustration. Tanner doesn’t always pay attention to your commands when he’s on foot, and when he’s behind the wheel, the controls are oversensitive and jerky. Making matters worse, the developers felt that the best way to compensate for the short story mode was to make each mission as difficult and exacting as possible.

Again, this isn’t a bad thing in itself, but the difficulty comes from seemingly arbitrary things. The twig-like streetlamps are unmovable obstacles, even for larger vehicles, and they’re hard to see at high speeds. And it’s hard to stay focused on the guy you’re chasing when small bumps send your car into a spin.

Strangely, none of this is made forgivable by the fact that, when you’re on foot, you can win any firefight by just standing behind a wall and shooting around the corner. But the worst thing about DRIV3Ris that it’s not all bad. The cities are huge and beautiful, with country-appropriate cars, and while the gameplay is muddy, it’s easy to see how it could have been better. But as it is, DRIV3Ris all flash and little substance.

Despite the ongoing rivalry between the two series, Atari’s DRIV3R is to Grand Theft Auto what Avril Lavigne is to the Sex Pistols: a slick knockoff that copies the form, but not the substance, of the original.

DRIV3Ris the story of Tanner, a creaky-voiced FBI agent who has carte blanche to steal cars, shoot anyone and destroy property as he goes undercover to bring down an international car-theft ring. You’ll spend your time running around on foot, getting into firefights and driving stolen cars in meticulously detailed clockwork cities, each based on a real-world locale. But unlike GTA and most of its imitators, there’s almost no potential for free-form mayhem. Oh sure, you’ll get to do some stunt driving and shoot innocents every so often, but the game takes players straight from mission to timed mission, with no room for exploration or violent shenanigans in between.

This wouldn’t be a big deal if those missions were at least fun, but DRIV3R'smyriad problems turn them into volcanic exercises in frustration. Tanner doesn’t always pay attention to your commands when he’s on foot, and when he’s behind the wheel, the controls are oversensitive and jerky. Making matters worse, the developers felt that the best way to compensate for the short story mode was to make each mission as difficult and exacting as possible.

Again, this isn’t a bad thing in itself, but the difficulty comes from seemingly arbitrary things. The twig-like streetlamps are unmovable obstacles, even for larger vehicles, and they’re hard to see at high speeds. And it’s hard to stay focused on the guy you’re chasing when small bumps send your car into a spin.

Strangely, none of this is made forgivable by the fact that, when you’re on foot, you can win any firefight by just standing behind a wall and shooting around the corner. But the worst thing about DRIV3Ris that it’s not all bad. The cities are huge and beautiful, with country-appropriate cars, and while the gameplay is muddy, it’s easy to see how it could have been better. But as it is, DRIV3Ris all flash and little substance.

More Info

GenreAction
DescriptionIt's hard to stay focused on the guy you're chasing when small bumps send your car into a spin.
PlatformPC, Xbox, PS2
US censor ratingMature
Release date21 June 2004 (US), 21 June 2004 (UK)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.
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