|Developer(s)||Reflections Interactive (Console and PC), Velez & Dubail (Game Boy Advance)|
|Release date(s)||PlayStation 2 & Xbox
Driver 3 (stylized as DRIV3R) is a 2004 open world action-adventure video game. It is the third installment in the Driver series and was developed by Reflections Interactive and published by Atari. Driver 3 was released in North America for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox on 21 June 2004. In Europe, it was officially released on 25 June, although due to the way Atari shipped the title across the continent, it made its way into independent UK retailers before the release date, even reaching sixth place in the ELSPA chart for that week. A simplified version of the game for mobile phones was developed and released by Sorrent and published in North America on 23 June 2004, while it was published by Unique Games in Europe. On 15 March 2005, it was released on PC for US customers, it was also released on Game Boy Advance 25 October 2005. At one point a Nintendo GameCube version and an N-Gage version were planned, but both were cancelled. The game received mixed reviews on all platforms except the PC, which received mostly unfavorable reviews.
Although two Driver games were published between them, 2011's Driver: San Francisco is considered the sequel to Driver 3.
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In Istanbul, Turkey, FBI agents John Tanner (Michael Madsen) and Tobias Jones (Ving Rhames) are getting ready to intercept criminal Charles Jericho (Mickey Rourke) and his crew. Tanner and Jones lead the Turkish police and set up a roadblock, engaging a shootout. While Jones leads the men, Tanner chases Jericho through the streets, with the scene abruptly ending when he enters his car and slams the door.
Suddenly, a couple of doctors are carrying Jericho and Tanner on medical beds, both comatose. They try to revive Tanner from his bullet wound, but his monitor flatlines.
Six months earlier, Tanner and Jones are in Miami, Florida infiltrating a crime ring known as South Beach, which specializes in stolen vehicles around Florida. A ruthless woman named Calita (Michelle Rodriguez) runs the crime ring, and is accompanied by weapons specialist Lomaz, and Bad Hand.
Tanner first infiltrates the South Beach with a police raid cornering a safehouse owned by Baccus, one of Calita's henchmen. After killing his guards, the two engage in a car chase, which ends in an accident. Tanner shoots and injures Baccus, who tells him about a car at a hotel that South Beach wants. As Tanner walks away, Baccus reaches for the keys to the car, but is shot by Tanner, who thinks he is pulling out a gun. Later that night, Tanner explains to Jones that he will go pick up the car and bring it back to South Beach. Jones tells Tanner to be careful, telling him that Calita is dangerous. He talks about a time when Calita killed her own crew with explosives.
Tanner is warily accepted by her crew and starts doing jobs for her. Local crime lord, Gator, has angered Calita by swindling her in a deal, causing tensions between them to slowly rise. Calita sends Tanner on a mission to blow up Gator's yacht with C4 and, after a while, sends him to Gator to collect a car. Tanner gives him the money, but just as he leaves his office, he is ambushed and forced to escape Dodge Island.
After Tanner escapes, Calita calls The Gator and tells him he's a dead man. Tanner and Lomaz chase him down, but he escapes to Stiltsville where Tanner seemingly shoots him dead. Tanner is then truly accepted in Calita's crew.
South Beach then moves their operations to Nice, France, and Tanner relocates as well. Tanner meets Vauban and Dubois, Interpol agents also working undercover, and they have their own plans to take down South Beach. Tanner decides to work the job his own way and warns them to stay out of his way.
Meanwhile, Calita gets in conflict with Fabienne, a local gang leader, as she has the cars that Calita wants. Calita sends Tanner to complete various missions such as finding three cars throughout the city and putting them on a back of a truck before it gets to the compound, or following a van that leads him to the location of the car, forcing him to escape without damaging it. But Calita gets in trouble when she decides to kill Fabienne on her own.
Fortunately, Tanner arrives on time and chases Fabienne. Tanner shoots at her and she dies. However, Dubois is captured by Calita's gang so Tanner teams up with Vauban to rescue him. Although he was told to back out after this case, Tanner decides to proceed. However, Tanner is unaware that his cover has been discovered by Calita, who's starting to doubt his intentions.
Tanner goes with Dubois to a boathouse to get information from a laptop. But he finds the place to be suspicious and takes a look around. Tanner is then hit in the head, and the man is revealed to be Calita's boss, Jericho. Calita shows up with the rest of the gang members and sets up a trap, killing Dubois. While they shoot at Dubois, Tanner takes this opportunity to roll down the garage door and hold them for a while. He is hunted by Jericho and his crew but manages to get to Vauban and Jones and escape Nice.
Tanner follows Jericho back to Istanbul, and he is now working as a rogue agent, having gotten in conflict with the Interpol. Tanner manages to find out that the true leader of this crime ring is Jericho who killed Solomon Caine, his boss, to take his job. Tanner follows him to a meeting where he finds out that The Gator is still alive and is one of Jericho's enemies. However, Tanner is forced to escape when a guard spots him.
Tanner wants to return to Miami to pick up The Gator before Jericho kills him, since he has the information about the cars. But, Vauban blames Tanner for Dubois's death and tells him that the bullets which Dubois was shot with are his. Tanner is now in conflict with the Istanbul police but manages to escape back to his hotel.
Eventually, Tanner and Jones locate Lomaz and force him into cooperation. He tells them that Calita and The Bagman are arranging a deal to sell the cars to a new Russian owner. At the drop point, Jones hides behind a pillar while Tanner waits in the car. Calita predicts that something is wrong and turns around. The Bagman spots Jones and starts to run away. Jones follows him into a trap but manages to escape. Returning to the drop point, Tanner chases Calita throughout Istanbul. Tanner takes her down and brings her to custody. Calita tells them Jericho's plans knowing that he will kill her for screwing up. She tells them that the cars have already gone to Russia but Jericho and The Bagman are still in Istanbul to make the final payment. Tanner and the crew go to the place where the final payment is going to take place. When The Bagman gives Jericho only half of what they originally agreed to, Jericho shoots the Bagman dead. Tanner's crew then see Jericho's truck drive away. Tanner catches up with the truck but ends up killing the wrong person, as Jericho switched spots on the truck with Bad Hand and fled to the train station. Tanner later follows the train that Jericho is on.
Jericho tries to escape Istanbul but Tanner catches up to him. Tanner pulls his car in front of the train on a bridge, where Jericho jumps down and starts to run. In the final showdown, Tanner chases Jericho, followed by Vauban and Jones with Istanbul police. Tanner faces Jericho in an alleyway where they have a fierce shootout. Tanner overcomes Jericho, points his gun at him, but decides that he is not worth it. Tanner turns around and Jericho uses this opportunity to critically shoot him in the back.
Tanner and Jericho are brought to a hospital. The doctors examine them as they are injured (as seen in the beginning). Tanner's monitor flatlines, but the doctors use a defibrillator and he survives.
The vehicles in Driver 3 are based on real-life vehicles and are designed to behave as such, using realistic damage modeling (e.g., bullet holes appear when a car is shot, or if the car is hit from behind the trunk of the car will pop out).
Weapons are unnamed in the game, with weapons beyond the player's initial weapon unlocked by completing mission or, in Take A Ride mode, from stealing them from police or other enemies. The players can unlock a variety of weapons, including pistols, rifles, and grenade guns.
NPCs react to the player's actions. For example, pedestrians will flee if they see Tanner with a weapon or if he drives too close to them.
The game was in development for around three and a half years. Special attention was paid in rendering the cities of Miami, Nice, and Istanbul. The in-game music was composed by Marc Canham, Rich Aitken, and Narco.
Atari also shot a short promotional video about Driver 3 called Run the Gauntlet.
After an extensive and intensive promotional campaign, Driver 3 received "mixed" reviews on all platforms except the PC version, which received "generally unfavorable reviews", according to video game review aggregator Metacritic.
The Times gave it all five stars, saying, "The graphics are divine, with vast urban locales and spectacular crashes. The cars handle well, and each vehicle has its own characteristics. Yet this is no easy driving game — one of the reasons why, subject matter aside, it carries a 16+ rating." Playboy gave it an 88% and stated: "Your investigation jump-starts reckless car chases through more than 150 miles of highways and city streets in detailed re-creations of Miami, Nice and Istanbul. Slam into any of the 30,000 buildings and your car crumbles realistically." However, The Cincinnati Enquirer gave it three stars out of five and called its controls and animation "unresponsive and stiff".
While most reviews of Driver 3 gave the game mixed reviews, two review outlets operated by Future plc, PSM2 and Xbox World, gave the game 9/10 reviews. This disparity led some gamers and journalists to claim that the early access Atari gave Future was contingent on receiving favorable ratings, but Atari and Future denied any wrongdoing. The incident was dubbed "Driv3rgate".
After the accusations of review fixing arose, the GamesRadar forums (also operated by Future) were filled with critical posts, many of which were deleted by moderators. Although the comments were said to be removed for being libelous, some users suspected a cover-up. Some comments defending Driver 3 and Future were traced by forum moderators to Babel Media, a marketing company that made use of astroturfing. The users admitted they worked for Babel, but said that they were posting on their own behalf, not for Babel. The thread was eventually deleted in its entirety.
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