Driver Renegade (Nintendo 3DS) - Review by Andrew
I must begin this review by telling you all that I'm a self confessed Driver addict and have been since the game first appeared on the original Playstation over a decade ago. The mixture of challenging and varied missions, excellent physics all wrapped up in an engaging story was a joy and the sequel even managed to improve upon the original. There have even been some outings on a variety of Nintendo handhelds including the GameBoy Color and Advance. It's this 3DS version, which we've all been waiting for though and while it's suffered a handful of delays it's here now but can it really live up to the excitement of the original?
The gameplay here I split into two different categories: Story Mode and Career Mode. There's no Multiplayer here so don't even bother looking for it and the closest you'll get to interacting with the outside world is with the now standard StreetPass challenge. The Story Mode is generally the highlight of Driver titles and it's certainly where we headed first. Unfortunately, while the gameplay is just as you'd expect, the story is incredibly poor (with far too much bad language) and the missions uninspiring and repetitive, which is some feat given that there are only 20 stages in total. You'll complete all of this in no time at all mostly due to a new feature which allows you car to receive a full service (whilst also removing all damage) by simply driving through one of the many garages located around the city.
The Career Mode offers a great deal more varied gameplay with success unlocking new cars and medals. Challenges here include point-to-point races, checkpoint races and elimination races. Our favourite though was the destruction missions where you must destroy or run into as much of the scenery and cars as possible before the timer runs out. Everything you hit here has a points score and should you manage to cause enough damage and mayhem you'll be able to open up the next section to do even more of the same. Very satisfying stuff indeed.
This was always been a strength of the Driver series and, thankfully, the wonderful control system remains intact for this handheld version. You can also opt to use the d-pad or the circle pad although we found the latter much more comfortable and responsive. Other than actually getting around the city you'll also be required to use your Nitro to get the upper hand and ram the more resilient vehicles off the road. This is occasionally unlimited but most missions require you to top up the 'power bar' by pulling off stunts and (you guessed it) crashing into opponents.
The actual in-game visuals are quite pleasing with the developers recycling maps and assets from the PSP's Driver 76. Oddly though the city does appear somewhat empty and not only is there minimal traffic but pedestrians are also in very short supply. This works fine for your average rally game as you race around the countywide but this is meant to be a densely populated city. The cut screens are incredibly ugly and the developers have opted to go with a sketchy comic-book approach although due to the poor plot you are likely to skip over all of this anyway. The highlight here is the front-end menu, which allows you to effortlessly float around a garage as you move from one option to another.
Like GTA, you can select from a variety of different music types here and the offerings are actually very good. The same can't be said of the voice acting (which isn't helped by a terrible script) or the sound effects, making some of the cars sound like they are battery powered.
Sadly Driver: Renegade is not the best example of just how well the 3D works on Nintendo's new handheld and we'd recommend sticking to a 2D experience here. If you really want to enjoy three-dimensional driving then you'd be better off looking at Ridge Racer, which does a wonderful job of pulling off the illusion. The on board camera is also required here, when creating a profile, and we love the fact that this is represented by an image as opposed to you typing your name. Finally here the developers have included a StreePass feature where you can challenge other 'Drivers' to one of many races although the time we spent with the game we had no takers.
I really wanted to love this game and to me at least it was one of the launch window highlights. Unfortunately Driver: Renegade simply lacks the volume of gameplay we've come to expect from a handheld title and the Story Mode can be completed in a matter of hours and that's if you don't mind the fact that most of the missions are repeated. The Career Mode goes some way to rescuing the package and ramming cars off the road has never been so entertaining and the 'destruction' challenges are great fun. The fact remains though, there's just not enough going on in this 3DS title and while the game mechanics are pretty solid more and varied missions, a better story and a Multiplayer would have gone a long way to addressing the lack of gameplay.
Pro: Looks and Handles Great, Impressive Menu Screens
Con: Very Short Story Mode, Terrible Story, Way Too Much Swearing.
Final score: 5