Driv3r. I really should have known better. I read a few reviews that really panned this game, giving it ratings of 5/10 or maybe 2 stars out of 5. Despite this, I saw the screen shots and thought about how much I loved the previous installment of the trilogy, plus the fact that I enjoyed other games by Reflections (Stuntman, Destruction Derby). I’m also a devout driving game disciple. So I bought it.
The driving model is OK. Which is in itself totally shit. Being a driving game, with a title like “Driv3r”, I guess you could be excused for thinking that the game is about driving. So you would expect that a lot of focus would have been put into the driving physics etc.. So you would also not expect things like a very obvious change when the engine sound loop restarts, or a lack of noticeable difference in performance between different car models. If I was looking for something good to say, I could say it does have a fairly nice damage model.
The developers would have done better to stop there. I could probably cope with a game that had average driving physics, a reasonable story line, and cool crashes. But no, the shit really hits the fan when ‘Tanner’ gets out of the car. He runs around like a stiff scarecrow, has trouble getting back into a car unless he is standing right next to the drivers door, can’t aim to save himself, and has to go back to the very beginning of a mission if he so much as stubs his toe. OK, so I’m exaggerating slightly, but it pretty much conveys the level of ire that I felt when playing this game.
If you’re thinking of buying it, do yourself a favour and don’t (unless it’s my second-hand copy on Trademe). Perhaps rent it to confirm my thoughts.
Update: OK, so some people tell me that the driving part of the game has a bit more depth, especially if you use the ‘movie editor’ system to create cool movies of crashes and stunts. Possibly. I’ll give it a go and get back to you.
Update 2: Right, so I’ve played this game a bit more; about three hours in total. All this has done is utterly confirm my opinion: the driving model is adequate, and the on-foot gameplay is an absolute abomination. Again this is a Bad Thing(tm), because the game is advertised/marketed as a driving game. Grand Theft Auto can get away with an adequate driving model because the game has a lot more depth than just the driving; Driv3r does not have this option.
I really can’t understand how this sort of thing happens. Do the game developers/testers look at the on-foot gameplay and think “ah whatever, that’ll do fine.”!? Do they have a copy of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City next to them so they can play it a bit and compare? Why didn’t someone just say “let’s totally drop the on-foot stuff and instead add a few more driving missions, and spend a bit of time on things like reducing the scenery pop-up or making it fade-in instead of popping up?”
I have however managed to find two slightly decent things about the game:
- It is hard to get away from the cops when they are chasing you. In previous Driver releases you could often just drive close to other traffic and the cops would crash. Now you have to actually use your skills and find a back-alley, shortcut or jump ramp to get away from the cops. this often requires doing the mission several times to spy a good escape route.
- The ‘thrill cam’ button is quite nice. It switches to a real-time slow motion external camera. So basically you hit a jump or start a big crash, then hold the ‘thrill cam’ button and watch the action in slow motion. Controls still work, so you can hold the button but still, say, steer the car into that huge powerslide you are doing.