GAMEPLAY - This game had some great potential in the gameplay department and while the missions allow for some exciting chases, too much of the game feels linear - even given the freedom to go anywhere - due to the method of delivery. Chapters are played out staccato and are often timed which rushes the player rather than creates a fun gaming environment. The driving controls are decent and the physics are a blast to mess around with allowing you to come up with some pretty crazy stunts which can be recorded and edited for your viewing pleasure. The walking, however, is another story. Your character doesn't know how to turn and strafes around town like he's just chosen asylum from a Russian dance troupe. It looks awkward to say the least.
Most of the chapters consist of you driving to a destination, shooting everything up and then high tailing out of Dodge in anything with wheels. A few of the missions lock you onto rails and these, surprisingly, are the best parts of the game!
Its a shame that you only see maybe ten percent of a given city within the mission structure, so much more could have been done to give the gamer their money's worth. As it stands, the gameplay is more of the same from antiquated games circa 1990 and does very little to stand out from the crowded action scene. Perhaps that wasn't the goal of Reflections, but seeing how far they came with the environments one wonders which accountant rushed this title out the door.
GRAPHICS - A mixed bag, really. While the cities are well detailed there isn't really anything that grabs your attention. And although its great to cruise down the main drag and not see an endlessly repeated storefront texture the guys in Reflections' graphics department failed to apply any style to said variety of shops. Why should you care? Because driving in Driver 3 is a pretty bland experience and that, my friends, does not bode well for a driving game! Without harping back on the gameplay aspect too much, if you're going to drive around a city give the player something to do! To their credit, Reflections managed to pull together quite a bit of texture variety and the resolution is on par with the current fare, albeit a tad on the aliased side. And we can't forget about the chop-chop-chop of certain map locations (Nice, anyone?). Low frame rate in an Xbox title is just plain bad programming.
The explosions are great! Itty bitty car parts flying everywhere and lots of fire and smoke make for some fantastic moments. Even fender benders (or full on T-bones, if you prefer) shed metal and your car's ability to take a strong dose of severe punishment gives the player something to cheer about. The damage is not simply a cosmetic effect as your vehicle tends to loosen up with each new collision, and watch out if someone shoots a tire off! I made the mistake of trying to escape a dock area filled with enemies on a motorcycle. As I raced past a large cluster of thugs one of them popped my rear tire causing my ride to fishtail uncontrollably and forcing me to dismount. This element is a no-brainer for a game like Driver 3 and I'm glad the developers didn't skimp out on it as its one of the few bright spots in the game.