DRIV3R Xbox Review

May 31, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox, Xbox

If a game bears only the slightest similarity to the classic Grand Theft Auto series, it comes under close scrutiny and comparisons are obviously inevitable. The Getaway and True Crime both share some elements of Rockstar’s acclaimed series but are also extremely different in other aspects. Another example is the game in question DRIV3R, one that tries to mimic the GTA series but also speaks loudly with its very own superb car chases, something Reflections thankfully haven’t left behind from the series origins.

It’s all well and good bringing in A-list actors to bring the characters to life and knock up some impressive FMV sequences, but when the plot is boring and doesn’t make much sense at the best of times we had forgotten all the latter and tried our best to find something just a little bit exciting and involving but instead found nothing but one dimensional characters (that might as well be cardboard cut outs we are hasten to add) and dialogue delivered lacking of any real passion.

Reflections have claimed that they favoured the driving 80/20 to the on-foot portions of the game, having played the game through to completion this is impossible to believe, 50/50 or at least 40/60 in favour of the driving sounds a little more realistic. With such a large share of the game being taken up outside the comfort of a vehicle, thank god it’s adequate enough, even though it is the games worst offender. The enemies may be as dumb as you can possibly get: standing on the spot and spewing bullets a lot of the time whilst you blast them away. The game is tightly scripted, which means some enemies will just wait to be shot whilst others run around a bit, we thought such patterned movements had died off a long time ago. If you can think of it as nothing but a highly cinematic game and a little memory test, then it becomes slightly more acceptable. The controls are in the FPS mould complete with a large targeting reticule, and Tanner is responsive at any given time. Go beyond the shooting and the pavements and into the water and Tanner is also able to swim, which means plummeting into the drink isn’t necessarily the end for the maverick cop.

The driving sections are where Reflections have truly excelled, boasting some incredible physics and exhilarating chases. Vehicles bounce around on their suspension systems realistically and handle superbly whilst flapping bonnets, boots and doors are the impressive results from the crashes. When we got hold of the Grenade Launcher later on in the game, we had never seen vehicles go airborne to such heights before on a game as they do on DRIV3R, it looks as we would expect in the aftermath of such a highly explosive weapon, it’s all amazing stuff. Reflections obviously wanted to make DRIV3R as cinematic as possible, reflecting this is the in-game Thrill Cam. This allows you to view your current vehicle heading towards the camera whilst you’re still in total control, the button is also context sensitive allowing you to apply more slow motion corresponding to how hard you press the button. As cool and cinematic as DRIV3R is there’s still some occasional painful moments with some totally unforgiving chase missions (always a fault of the Driver series) that require you to not crash at all or risk losing your target altogether and then have to restart all over again, which can become horribly frustrating with some nastily placed checkpoints and not forgetting to mention that you lose your targets when they’re still in sight at times.

Besides the linear story mode there is also the Free Ride mode which allows you to do whatever you desire, if it’s searching for the Tommy Vercetti alike characters (an obvious knock aimed at Vice City), finding some of the games hidden vehicles, or just acting the fool and attracting the attention of the law, it’s all up to you. The Driving Games on the other hand are an extension of the main game, providing you with chases, checkpoint racing and more. So there’s plenty to do but it does lack GTA’s longevity might, especially as the main game seems to be over a little too soon.

Then there’s the Film Director mode (back by popular demand), this time with an added bonus, which allows you to upload it for others to view on this Xbox version. The powerful tool allows you to manipulate your replays into a cinematic feast for the eyes. Cameras can be placed where you desire, slow motion can highlight certain elements and motion blur can also give your homemade movies a stylish edge. Some of the uploaded movies on Xbox Live are fantastic stuff, and the ability to upload is certain to be one of the enduring and most popular aspects of the game.

Each of the three accurately mapped cities (Miami, Nice, and Istanbul) is ideal for car chases. Driving through rigid alleyways and making a mess with the environmental furniture is a sight to behold (metal barrels do react rather weightless though) and this is further complemented by the gorgeous graphics, unwanted imperfections do crop up though. The draw distance is poor and there’s also occasional slow-down to be found, apart from this the game is mostly smooth.

Reflections are clearly very clued up when it comes to classic car chases, in fact these sections are so good that the on-foot portions don’t manage to make enough of an impression in comparison, poor on the spot AI doesn’t help the cause. All that said the on-foot bits are adequate enough (and better than The Getaway), but feel a little more forced then they should thanks in most part to the 3D waking of the GTA series, surely sticking to car chases only wouldn’t of harmed the games mass appeal? Whatever the case, DRIV3R isn’t too bad at all.