Posted on September 5, 2012
My Top 100: #92 – DRIV3R
Driver 3 (not “Driv-three-Arrr”) is the first game on this countdown that I feel might leave some people scratching their heads.
When it was released for PC and PlayStation, the first Driver game had you pretty much just driving from point A to point B, running errands for characters you never really connected with (or even saw on screen, for that matter), just avoiding cops or other cars that were out to hinder your progress. The sequel added on-foot missions, and though it was pretty ambitious, the graphics and controls were a far cry from Grand Theft Auto III (which was released less than a year later).
By the time DRIV3R rolled around, GTA3 and Vice City had been around a while. They were the gold standard, and every free-roaming action game that came after them had pretty high expectations. The Driver franchise did pretty well on its first two attempts, so it was understandable that there was a lot of hype surrounding the third game.
From the get-go, critics trashed it. Some claimed the on-foot missions were terrible, and the lack of melee weapons was inexcusable. The game was blamed for having “rubberband AI”, which meant that no matter how well you thought you were getting away from someone, the code would allow them to catch right back up.
GameSpot gave it a 3.8, IGN gave it a 5.4, and EGM gave it a 5.9… so what could I have possibly enjoyed enough about it to include the game on my list?
To begin with, I found the hand-to-hand combat in GTA games absolutely terrible, so I certainly didn’t miss it not being in DRIV3R. The graphics had a surprising amount of polish to them, and the music gave the game a pretty good Hollywood vibe to it. Miami feels like a grittier version of Vice City, Istanbul’s narrow streets are complimented by a cool middle-eastern soundtrack, and Nice looks… well, nice. (Couldn’t resist.)
If you like to nitpick about everything that’s wrong about games, then don’t play this. The driving physics were meant to be realistic, if only to counter the slightly arcade feel that Rockstar went with for GTA. Some people liked it, a lot of people hated it, but I really enjoyed it.
Thumbs up, brah.