Local hoods send you on errands, picking up cash, delivering robbers to safety and the city is peppered with interesting sub-missions to lose your way in.
There are races to win (including an entire, well planned out racing track league), stunts to pull off and (our favourite) an on-going vendetta against a hapless donut-seller who calls every cop in the city every time you smash a car through his donut cart.
Cash from missions can buy upgrades too. While GTA: SA's car mods were largely cosmetic, DPL lets you customise your car to levels seen in the likes of NFS: Most Wanted - and genuinely feel the difference when you're out on the road.
Soon we were taking old favourites out on jobs and even selecting from our stable depending on the job in hand. It's flexibility like this that puts memories of old rigid Driver 'do or die' games way off in the distance. Which, unfortunately, is where most of your missions are.
DPL is hell-bent on making you drive from one side of the map to the other, to the extent that you'll often lose track of the story thanks to the sheer twenty-minute grind of getting across town.
The traffic recreation is very accurate, but so accurate that unless you're prepared to mount the pavement and kill, kill and kill again you'll be driving pretty much like you do in real New York - slowly. Good job the clever waypoint system on the in-game map let's you keep on target.
Most dire situations are 'get-outable' and you can hit select to instantly be taken to the last checkpoint with none of the hair-tearing loading and waiting that plagued Driv3r.
So everything is in place. They can make great cities, program realistic traffic and get the handling of '70s muscle cars just right but why is it that Driver games never hang together like a game should?
You never escape the feeling that this is just a collection of mini games in a big, big city. New excitement could have come in the shape of improved on-foot missions, but rather than the problem being fixed, it's been minimised.