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Gamers buckle up for 'Driver 3'

By Stephen Ryan
CNN Headline News

In Atari's "Driver 3," you play Tanner, an undercover cop, who's out to stop a gang of Miami-based car thieves.
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(CNN) -- Wanted: One wheelman with an extraordinarily heavy foot.

If you fit the bill, then sit down, buckle up and hold on because Atari's "Driver 3" feels like "Miami Vice" merging with "Gone in 60 Seconds." It's a driver-shooter game with a flooring storyline.

You play Tanner, an undercover cop, who's out to stop a gang of Miami-based car thieves who are trying to ship 40 of the world's most expensive rides to an international buyer. Tanner goes undercover as the theft ring's getaway driver. You use driving skills and firepower to infiltrate the gang, and then you figure out how to stop the thugs before they can unload the goods.

When you first play "Driver 3," you may notice some similarities to "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City." But those similarities end once Tanner leaves Miami.

The feel of the cars in "Driver 3" is also much different. The steering is loose, which you should keep in mind when "on the job." This can be a hindrance to novice "Driver" players, but can also be a great asset with practice.

For example, each vehicle's brakes are extremely sensitive. If you brake too much when taking a corner, you most likely will end up doing a 180, finishing nose-to-nose with John Q. Law. A simple touch of the brakes is all you need to handle a corner at high speeds. Any more and you may lose control. Think of the regular brakes and the e-brake in "Driver 3" as being almost interchangeable.

"Driver 3" isn't all business though. There are several driving games besides the main storyline to keep you polished as a wheelman. In quick chase mode, you track and destroy an opponent's car before time runs out. Then there's quick getaway, where you need to lose the cops quick, fast and in a hurry. There also are several other driving games that are designed to hone your precision behind the wheel. Keep in mind, driving like a human wrecking ball may work temporarily, but the cops are bound to nab you when you total the car, which is inevitable.

In case playing a wheelman and cop isn't enough adrenaline for you, try your hand at being a movie director. "Driver 3" has a unique editing suite within the game that lets you watch saved replays or re-edit them into a movie.

"Driver 3" has a unique editing suite within the game that lets you watch saved replays or re-edit them into a movie.

Editing in "Driver 3" takes practice, but it's well worth the time. You can control everything including camera placement, frame advancement, cuts and zooms. Not to mention there also are special effects you can incorporate.

"Driver 3" is one of the few great video game sequels. In fact, I believe it's one of the few game series that has made consistent, significant improvements with each chapter. I predict that the main competition for "Driver 3" will be the upcoming "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas." It's too early to compare the two but until that standoff begins, you can play for hours on the law's side with "Driver 3."

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