Driv3r is an obvious offshoot of the blockbuster hit Grand Theft Auto - Vice City. Unlike Vice City's mythical city, Driv3r uses real life streets of Miami, Nice and Istanbul.
While this is obviously riding on the coattails of Vice City, it would of course be a mistake to want any other game to be exactly LIKE Vice City. Why would you buy it if it was an exact duplicate? Instead, Driv3r has you as Tanner, a FBI agent stationed in Miami, going through its real streets, getting sucked into a conspiracy.
The graphics are really pretty impressive. On one hand, you get a general person-model like in Vice City - reasonably good, not Splinter Cell high quality. The clouds overhead are quite nice, the shadows falling off your car and buildlings are quite impressive.
The car models, as you might expect coming from a car-driving game company, are quite spectacular. They're all "clones of" - no real car licenses here - but they're quite nice. Even better, if a car manages to blow up, the bits that go flying are quite recognizeable as well.
We found the default driving view a bit annoying - it's right "behind" the car so your car ends up blocking the view of what is ahead of you. We'd rather have a high-and-behind view that gives you a better look at what you're driving towards.
There are a few shooting missions and a ton of driving missions, again as you might expect. The cut-scenes and plot are all nice to move the plot along. The voice talent is impressive - Mickey Rourke, Iggy Pop, etc.
The sounds in general are quite well done. The engine sounds, squealing tires, ambient noise, soundtrack, all fit the mood. Again, this company has done driving games for many years. It's what you would expect.
There are definitely a few bugs in this game. We were driving our car in a convoy with other cops to get to a crime scene - and the cop behind us rear-ended us and drove us into a building. There are the usual random clipping problems that you get in games like these. Also, the game really expects most players to have to replay a given mission many times to get the timing down exactly right. If you make one small mistake, you miss your opportunity and lose the mission.
There are fun rewatch-the-cool-part options, making this like an action movie. Many items in your world are destructable, depending on the size of what you are driving. In a small car, you can take out the smaller light poles but not the larger ones. In a large truck, just about anything is game.
If you loved the driving aspects of Vice City, or other racing games in general, then Driv3r is probably a great game for you. In addition to the missions there is free driving options and mini-games to play with.
If, however, you really liked the sneak-around-and-shoot missions, you probably won't like this one. Your money would be better spent on other shooters on the market.
Still, I had great fun with this game, once I accepted that it was very perfectionist-minded and required great driving skill. The more you play, the better you get, the more fun you have!
Buy Driv3r from Amazon.com