The range of vehicles at your disposal is much wider than in the previous games, so you now have around 70 vehicles across the three cities, including sports cars, speedboats, cranes and, erm, a tugboat. Our favourites, though, are the articulated lorries, with which you can decouple the trailer while driving to create impromptu road blocks, and the motorbikes - mainly because you can do wheelies on them. Reassuringly, Driv3r retains the series' classic handling model - cars oversteer and the back-end is really slidey, so it's handbrake turns a-go-go - while the physics and damage look spot-on. Crash your car and the bonnet will flip up, the boot and doors can fall off, hub caps go flying, windscreens crack.
The entire game can now be played from either a third or first-person perspective, which is mainly designed to aid with the shooting. Unleashing the arsenal of weapons at your disposal - which range from silenced pistols to assault rifles and machine guns - results in impressively realistic damage to the environment and buildings. Use an Uzi to write your name on a wall with bullet holes, if you like, or - more usefully - blow out the tyres of other cars. More thrilling than that though is letting loose with the grenade launcher: watch as a grenade gently trickles under a car, only for the vehicle to then be blasted three storeys up and explode into dozens of pieces. It's a great effect although, suffice to say, it'll probably garner the attention of the law pretty sharpish.
The familiar rotating Driver map sits at the bottom-right of the screen, while three 'energy' bars in the top-left indicate your own health, the amount of damage your vehicle has taken and your felony rating, which shows how much of an interest the police are taking in you - from ignoring you completely to attempting to ram you off the road. Pause the game and you have access to a full-screen version of the map, while the paused in-game view appears as a boxout at the bottom right. In addition to around 50 miles of drivable road in each city, there are also hordes of side streets and back alleys that don't appear on the map, allowing for loads of sneaky shortcuts (especially handy when trying to lose a tail). The environments themselves have gone for a photo-realistic look. Have gander at any of the game's 35,400 buildings and you cannot help but be impressed by the level of detail on them. Unfortunately, this doesn't necessarily hold true for the visuals as a whole, with a variety of glitches and even pop-up evident in the current code.
In addition to the main mission-based Undercover mode, Take a Ride simply lets you roam freely around the cities, while there is also a selection of driving games. These include Quick Getaway, in which you have to shake off a cop who's on your tail as quickly as possible; Survival, where there are four police cars trying to smash your to pieces; and Quick Chase, in which you must destroy the AI car in front of you by ramming into it. The Film Director function also makes a return. The game 'remembers' the last few minutes of what you've done, which you can then edit and replay using a variety of different camera angles and effects. Reflections are spending a lot of time focusing on this mode although, while it's a neat addition, we're not convinced that gamers are likely to spend ages editing footage when they could actually be playing the game proper.