"This sucks. I mean, how could Refractions mess up so bad? Tanner, you suck ass!"— Madd Dogg's bodyguard from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas poking fun at the Driver franchise.
Driver 3 (stylized as DRIV3R) is an action-adventure video game, and the third installment in the Driver series, being the sequel to Driver 2. It was developed by Reflections Interactive and published by Atari for PC, PlayStation 2, and Xbox. The console versions were released in June 2004, with the PC version being released nine months later. It was involved in a review scandal which became known as Driv3rgate.
Why It Sucks
- Despite being in development for nearly four years, Atari released the game in an unfinished state to get the game on store shelves before Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, resulting in the game having many bugs and glitches.
- You spend a large part of the game on foot, which doesn't make sense for a game called Driver. The game also has guns and segments where you engage in firefights, in an attempt to copy the Grand Theft Auto series. The next game in the series, Driver: Parallel Lines, retained the on-foot combat but made it a much smaller part of the game.
- On-foot gameplay is dull due to stiff controls and unexciting combat.
- All of Tanner's animations look awkward and extremely stilted.
- Gunplay is very underwhelming, with weak weapon sounds and no feeling of impact.
- Enemies stand in place during combat and wait for quite some time before shooting you, making on-foot sections incredibly easy. Any difficulty you face will stem more from the tank controls and lack of aiming that make precise targeting harder than it needs to be.
- The driving AI is also subpar, as enemies aren't smart enough to exit their vehicle and shoot you until they get within a certain distance.
- Physics can be broken at times, as you'll jump off a ramp and land smoothly one minute, and then land on your car's front and crash the next, despite landing at the same angle as last time.
- The developers forgot to program cars so that you can't enter them after they've been destroyed. Consequently, you can still get behind the wheel of a car even if it's been blown up.
- It's unclear what you can and cannot drive through, and it can range from unusual (I can drive through that wall? Okay, then...) to confusing (What do you mean light posts are invincible?).
- The cities featured in the game (Miami, Nice, and Istanbul) are wasted because the story is a linear, mission-based mode. There's also a complete lack of things to do in the game's "Take a Ride" (free-roam) mode aside from killing people, driving around, and messing with the cops. With the exception of finding secret cars after beating the game, which is needed.
- Ugly visuals that are comparable to a very late PSOne title from the year before. It is also possible to fall right through the map.
- Complete lack of satisfying sound effects (the car's engine doesn't sputter when it's totaled).
- Mixed-to-bad voice acting, despite having an all-star cast (this was also to copy Grand Theft Auto, which also features some celebrities voicing characters).
- The PC version has a terrible default control scheme (who thought the 5 key should be the fire button? The mouse buttons literally have no functions mapped to them unless you configure the controls). The driving controls feel like they've been ripped from a 1980s ZX Spectrum game.
- Confusing plot.
- The GBA port, developed by the same studio who developed the GBA ports of V-Rally 3 and Stuntman, is rather bizarre and contains some really stupid features such as cars being immune to damage (as they bounce off like bumper cars instead) and if you drive into the water, they suddenly explode for no reason!
- The missions "The Chase" and "The Hit" are considered some of the hardest missions in the entire series to the point of being nigh impossible due to rubberband AI.
- Speaking of, "The Hit" was left out of the console versions of the game for reasons unknown.
- The driving AI is really impatient, and always honks at you, even when they're turning into your lane or even when you're not going slow, and it can get really annoying.
- Despite the game being a GTA clone that has weapons, no blood is present in this game.
- For some reason, the game is rated M for Mature in the United States, despite not containing any blood or much swearing.
- The cutscenes look good.
- Cars can be fun to drive when the physics are working.
- Car models and damage-modeling look nice.
- The soundtrack is pretty good.
- Once again, the driving mini-games are fun to play, especially Survival mode.
- Some glitches are pretty amusing, like the infamous glitch in Miami that makes your car fly around the city.
- The PC version of Driver 3 runs better than the PC port of Driver: Parallel Lines, the latter of which is notorious for crashing after a cutscene or when quitting the game.
The console versions of Driver 3 received mixed reviews, with a Metacritic score of 60 for the Xbox version and 58 for the PlayStation 2 version. The PC version, meanwhile, received mainly negative reviews, with a Metascore of 41. The game garnered controversy after it was realized Atari had paid Future plc to give both console versions a 9 out of 10. This led to gamers accusing Atari of false advertising and the incident was dubbed "Driv3rgate".