The Driver series is a nice take on using B-grade movie material to make cool driving games. The first game was like playing a 3D version of Grand Theft Auto to me; players race around town doing missions for the underground crime world. The only differences were that players were an undercover cop, instead of some low-life (ex-)convict, players couldn't get out of the car to terrorize the citizens with various weapons when in the mood for some mean-spirited fun, and when your car is destroyed - it's game over. The sequel was much better with exploration, as players get to carjack people when you need some wheels. The only con I had with the game is that it leaned on GTA-like plot and gameplay; not all games are going to be original, but there were too many similarities between Atari's and Rockstar's franchises. A few years later, coming to Playstation 2 is the newest sequel, Driver 3, a.k.a. Driv3r (d'oh!), which combines its own fresh, narrative storyline with real Tinsel Town talent.
Tanner, the undercover cop/getaway driver wheelman, and his partner Tobias Jones are back in this new installment of adrenaline-rushing, car-chasing, cop-escaping, gun-toting, crime syndicate-busting action. This time, the duo is pulling out the stops in order to bring down an international car theft ring. Reflections Interactive, an Atari studio and the team behind the original two Driver games, has developed a sequel that stays close to its roots, all the while making an action-packed driving game that incorporates gripping gameplay and the gritty street crime of its predecessors with ground-breaking graphics and three real-life, wide-open city environments: Miami, Florida; Nice, France; and Istanbul, Turkey.
Atari, known for collaborating with Hollywood, is hoping to hit new heights of interactive entertainment with Driv3r by casting some of Hollywood's major actors for the main characters and two of the infamous crime bosses in the game. Michael Madsen ("Kill Bill", "Donnie Brasco", "Reservoir Dogs") will be the voice of Tanner, Driv3r's leading man; Ving Rhames ("Mission: Impossible" series, "Pulp Fiction", "Con Air") will be the voice of Tobias Jones; Mickey Rourke ("Once Upon a Time in Mexico", "The Thin Red Line", "9 1/2 Weeks") will be giving voice to Jericho, the sinister leader of the international crime syndicate; and Michelle Rodriguez ("S.W.A.T.", "The Fast and The Furious", "Blue Crush") will be the voice talent of Calita, the sexy leader of a Miami car theft ring.
Whether the player's bustin' some caps or making the cops or criminals eat their dust, Driv3r has the means to keep the fun going for hours. With the game scheduled to be released in Spring 2004, the unoriginality of the past two games should be overlooked for the better graphics and the celebrity star power that's been added to this new installment to the series to give it a look and feel of a Hollywood blockbuster. In that case, I think I smell an Oscar.
12/11/2003 Alexandria Long