"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, Inc. for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, Xbox, Game Boy Advance, and mobile phone. 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".
- 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. For example the infamous glitch in Miami that makes your car fly around the city.
- In fact, the map itself is unfinished too as you can see tons of holes between buildings when said glitch occurs.
- You spend a large part of the game on foot, especially during the final mission, 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 enemy AI is subpar, as enemies aren't smart enough to exit their vehicle and shoot you until they get within a certain distance, and whenever they have exit their cars, they're massive pushovers and are pathetically easy to kill, offering no challenge when facing them.
- 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, due to terrible collision detection, 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 completely linear and mission-based. 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.
- Plus, the Driv3r version of Istanbul looks incredibly bleak, gritty and poverty-stricken compared to its real-life version that's vibrant with life with modern buildings and modernized road system. Plus, the cars are decades old compared to the more modern cars seen in Miami and Nice, which is questionable. Is Istanbul supposed to be located in Turkey or Cuba?
- Graphics by the sixth generation standards looks average and is not a significant burden for any supported hardware, be it PS2 or Xbox. 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).
- Speaking of Grand Theft Auto, Tanner in this game is voiced by Michael Madsen, who also voiced Toni Cipriani in Grand Theft Auto III.
- 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 game also leaks the climax right at the beginning of the game.
- 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 impossible due to rubberband AI and the fact that it relies in little to no room error.
- 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.
- However, the game has no melee weapons whatsoever. Additionally, hand-to-hand combat is nonexistent, which shows that Tanner is not a fighter at all and never uses his hands or legs to use.
- For some reason, the game is rated M for Mature in North America, despite not containing any blood or much swearing. What's ironic is that the PEGI rating is 16+, making this an equivalent to a T for Teen rated game.
- Sometimes if your vehicle gets tilted, you can't get out of the car meaning that you're stuck and then eventually explode for no reason, killing you even with Invincibility cheat enabled. Sometimes the vehicle doesn't explode when this occurs, meaning that you must restart the game.
- Poor gameplay controls, since Tanner moves very slowly but has zero momentum when running or going in any direction in the entire game due to the terrible physics and questionable collision detection which makes driving certain vehicles and shooting some enemies very frustrating to handle, especially in parts where the game requires to drive to another city or town in the game, making the entire game a chore to complete because again, of how bad the controls are overall.
- Tanner is rather unlikable in this game and tends to act like a bitter jerk at times towards certain NPCs in the game, especially when they did nothing wrong to him, making him very hard to relate to and have no character development in the game whatsoever.
- The Timmy Vermicellis, a poor parody of Tommy Vercetti, are incredibly dangerous and hard to kill and can easily kill you in a couple of shots (even cops are of no match for them), especially given their bullet sponge nature (even with headshots) and explosives are the only way to kill them.
- The cutscenes look good, although it is considered a lure by newcomers.
- Cars can be fun to drive when the physics are working.
- Car models and damage-modeling look nice.
- The soundtrack is pretty good.
- The driving mini-games are fun to play, especially Survival mode.
- The Game Boy Advance version of Driver 3 is really impressive for handheld standards.
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 Publishing 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".