Driver: Renegade Review
Just when the Driver franchise was on the rebound with the amazing San Francisco entry for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, we get a game that almost sinks it back down again, back into the stinky depth where Driver 3 still lulls after all these years. I’m talking about Driver: Renegade, the driving series’ foray into 3D territory. With the right kind of development, this game could’ve been right there on the same quality level as San Francisco, with multi-tiered events, a wide-open city to race around in, and unique gameplay to keep it from becoming a dull ride. Sadly, none of this happens, and as a result, we’re left with something that’s the equivalent of a flat tire.
John Tanner once again returns to active driving duty, bringing his skills to a city that needs it, as the mayor of New York has called upon him to help clean up the streets by taking down local thugs and keeping things from getting too out of hand. But along the way, something happens. Your driving becomes so haphazard that you yourself become the threat, though you’d never really be able to tell because things get dull and repetitive in a hurry.
The game contains a series of missions to complete, but there’s only about 20 in all, and you’ll wipe them out within about two to three hours time. There are additional races to take part in, including time trial events and elimination races, but by then you’ll have probably lost interest, due to the fact that you’re never doing the same kind of mind-blowing events that you could be doing in San Francisco. It’s as if you’ve chosen to ride around in a crappy Prius rather than living the good life in a sports car. Driver: Renegade’s controls actually aren’t bad. Your vehicles handle with the kind of aplomb of a good street-driving machine. However, their stability is heavily questioned. If you hit any sort of object in the game, be it street signs, other cars, buildings – hell, at this rate, even thin air – you begin building damage on a bar. Do too much and your car explodes, forcing you to try again. Or not, depending on your tolerance level.
Even worse, the game’s AI isn’t well balanced. In fact, it’s way too easy to put enemy vehicles in their place, due to the fact they can’t drive worth a damn. In fact, during some pursuits, it was simply too easy to box them in and finish them off with a few bumps, rather than endure the thrill of the chase. Boring. And you can’t even take on others in multiplayer. The only connectivity you have with your friends is through leaderboards. And despite three trips around the city, no one registered. Not one fellow driver.
The visuals look okay, though New York seems to be barren of any given street life. There are literally no pedestrians in this game, and every once in a while, you do see a fellow driver on the street, but their behavior is so plain that it’s hard not to think that a robot is behind the wheel. Worse yet, the 3D effect in this game doesn’t really do anything for it. You’re better off just driving in 2D and saving yourself the eyestrain of looking at crap in the third dimension.
Thankfully the music is at least easy to listen to. Though it’s lacking the kind of diversity you’d find in San Francisco, it’s suitable for a 3DS game. It’s just a shame we can’t say the same for the voicework. Tanner comes off like a complete pompous jerk rather than a man of the law, constantly yelling at folks with the same taunts over and over again. It gets to the point you want to ram him off the road just to silence him. The sound effects are average, nothing exceptional but not bad either. But really, shut Tanner up.
Driver: Renegade is a game that had the potential to sit alongside San Francisco as a mean machine, but instead winds up being a lemon due to its shoddy production values, bad collision detection and lack of replay value. Leave this sucker sitting in the lot.