"Driver 3", informally known as "DRIV3R", is a video game released for the Gameboy Advance console in 2005 by Atari. It is a part of the "Driver" series of video games and is the third installment. In the United States, the game received a rating of "T" by the ESRB panel which deemed it suitable for teenage years and above.
The gameplay of this title breaks away from the traditional methods seen in earlier Driver releases. While the intention is still acquiring vehicles and driving them to specific locations, there is now a strong element of exiting vehicles and using firearms against rival gangsters. The players of this title control Tanner who is an undercover police officer acquiring intelligence on the crime syndicate who he is infiltrating. Tanner reports his information to the police who act on this information off screen. The game is generally simple in its driving efforts. The controls are quick and responsive to sudden action which is often required in areas of sharper turns. Where the game struggles is within shooting sequences. Tanner is often difficult to control and aim, and takes many hits from the aggressive rivals.
The graphics are presented from a trailing view of the character or his vehicle, and are presented in full three dimensional images. Driver 3 is perhaps the most visually pleasing title in the series and is especially noteworthy in the slick vehicles against the background environments. The game takes place predominantly in Miami, Florida so numerous tropical climate features including palm trees and clearer skies are featured throughout. The soundtrack is somewhat generic in comparison. Simple musical scores that are short and loop frequently have a central place and this becomes highly repetitive. Also included are simple gunshot noises and vehicular noises.
Overall, Driver 3 remains on par with the second title before it which is a compliment to be said. It is an excellent play and remains appealing for extended periods of time due to the availability of numerous in game missions.
DRIV3R is the first Game Boy Advance title that I played and is the third game in the Driver series. The console versions of this mission-based driving game were not received well. I had a rough idea of what these games were like but did not know what to expect with this version though I was interested to find out how they would pull off a game of this type on a handheld.
You play the role of Tanner, an undercover cop. The game does not strictly involve driving - but it's the quickest way of getting around the city. Whether you explore on foot (in third-person) or by vehicle (through an external view) there's not a lot to do other than to make your way to the sole mission point or attempt one of the mini-games.
The controls in this game work well enough. There are no problems regarding driving and on foot, holding the right shoulder button locks Tanner into strafing movements bringing up a target for aiming. It would have been nice if both shoulder buttons were used for strafing so I could run rings round the bad guys though Tanner's movements can look weird. What is strange is how the enemy repeatedly run towards and away from you, with shootouts being a case of 'be quick or be dead'.
In the audio department there is a shortage of tunes though the sound effects are okay. Graphically, DRIV3R looks fine but once you get moving you'll notice a lot of texture warping and frequent wall clipping. What is not a laughing matter is the rather dodgy collision detection, which sees the likes of cars - some of which you have to pursue - driving through traffic. I once got my car stuck against a surface, which took me a long time to drive away from. I know it wasn't a road sign, but it wasn't a good sign either (!).
Crazy things happen in DRIV3R. With the exception of some missions, the cars don't take damage but driving the car into the sea sees the vehicle explode! Also, civilians die if you drive into them though they cannot be shot to death. Unluckily for them, the police only serve to play the odd role in certain missions.
The missions are a mix of action in cars and on foot. You are given as many attempts at the vehicle-based parts until you pull it right or pull out, but should you die on foot, you will have to load up your file and start the whole mission from scratch. The problem however is that every time you load up the game you start at the same point in the city, so it can take a while to get to the action proper. Also, you might want to top up your health and ammo beforehand, though locating these can be a drag.
There are cars parked around the city which, once you get into initiates a mini-game. They are all time-based and take place in and out of the traffic which, along with the collisions - a bump backwards - can have me in road rage. There are rewards for completing these but they are not enough of a diversion from the actual missions themselves.
Despite the dodgy collision detection DRIV3R passes it's driving test, but even with the city at its feet play tends to follow one way traffic. As a game on cartridge for a handheld console I would expect to pick it up and play, but the starting point killed the game off for me - since the city is so lacking I might as well be loading up a mission. There are three battery backed save files if you are interested, but while there have been a number of great first games that I play on a number of different systems - but this will not be one of them.