Some major engine problems here.

With its quality cutscenes, Driv3r is actually more fun to watch than play.

The cutscenes, admittedly, are very cool.

It’s easy to forget that open-ended 3D driving games got their start with the original Driver, which came out before Grand Theft Auto added another dimension to its top-down mayhem. The original Driver is famous, or perhaps notorious, for having the most comically difficult tutorial ever, one that was required to complete before jumping into the game proper. Driver 3, stylistically shortened to Driv3r, is equally notorious for being one of the most glitch-filled and generally underwhelming major A-list releases of its kind in years. And now there’s a PC version, which is equally glitchy and problematic.

The basic gameplay is similar to the last two versions of the series. You take on short missions as FBI agent Tanner (still “the wheelmanâ€), which are separated by incredibly long and well-produced cutscenes. It’s almost like there’s more watching than playing, but in this case it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Driver 3 mixes up the vehicular mayhem with a lot of running around and shooting stuff, and the controls for this part of the game are disastrous.

11_1It’s possibly one of the worst third-person shooting game ever, with terrible keyboard/mouse controls, and it’s not much better with a gamepad. The camera lurches around like a drunken fratboy, and aiming is more theoretical than precise. It’s worse than True Crime, and that’s saying something. The requirements are also quite high for its generally mediocre visuals. The graphics engine is sluggish, with lots of pop-in and visual glitches.

The “token PC version†feeling is exacerbated by a default keyboard layout that requires three arms to navigate. It features completely separate driving and running controls, with bizarre mappings like “5†for fire. (How about a mouse button?) While it’s obviously designed for a gamepad, how about at least mimicking Grand Theft Auto’s PC keyboard configuration, which keeps everything relatively consistent and simple?

While the story-based gameplay is a dud, the free-roaming modes and mini-games are pretty entertaining. The vehicle physics are terrific, letting you slide your car around with abandon, and the cop AI is in the “so bad it’s good†camp; they will try to drive through buildings to nab you. That something this bad is actually good says everything about Driver 3.

System Requirements: Pentium 1.5 Ghz, 256 MB RAM, 64 MB Video, Windows XP

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