Driver Renegade 3D is an action/driving game developed and published by Ubisoft. It is the 7th release in the long running Driver series of games and is exclusive to the Nintendo 3DS. The game was released alongside the latest AAA “Driver” offering: “Driver: San Francisco” for the PC and current gen consoles. Renegade consists of a “Story Mode” consisting of missions of varying types detailing a story set between the events of “Driver” and “Driver 2”. In addition to this, there is a “Career Mode” consisting of many small challenges complete with an EXP and level system. The story behind “Driver Renegade 3D” is fairly simple; you are John Tanner, an ex-undercover cop from New York City. After saving a city senators life, you’re given the chance to take the law into your own hands and clean up the streets, disposing of each of the highest ranked criminals in New York. Over the 20 available missions, the story is delivered with slick comic cut-scenes and full voice acting amongst the cast. It’s a shame then that the story is so weak in substance with Tanner solving most, if not all problems by calling someone on the phone followed by either driving from A to B or ramming cars so much that they explode whilst spouting as many swearwords between sentences as he can get away with.
The gameplay of Driver: Renegade 3D is split into racing, blowing up cars (via only ramming into them constantly), driving into static objects and driving from A to B whilst either avoiding cars trying to ram you or beating the clock. The story mode only allows the ramming cars/objects and A-B segments of the gameplay however so if that doesn’t seem like much gameplay variance, that’s because it isn’t. All 20 missions of the story mode tie into those 3 gameplay aspects and are only seperated via story context and cutscenes. One mission you’re ramming a car belonging to a drug ring, the next you’re ramming a car belonging to a organ trafficker, this would be acceptable however if the game provided any variance and challenge. The game is split into two difficulty levels; easy and hard. The game’s default setting is set to “hard” with extra cars only being able to be unlocked if the missions are completed on that mode. Hard mode is so easy however that I was able to complete the story mode (and thus unlock all the cars related to that mode) within 2-3 hours.
The reason that hard mode is so easy falls to a number of reasons including the frankly unfair amount of damage your car is able to withstand in comparison to every other car involved. This aspect of the game mixed with the mechanic of driving through set garages to heal your vehicle instantly means that missions involving blowing up cars is made into a game of counting the explosions with no sense of danger whatsoever. In addition, the “rage bar” mechanic completely invalidates any challenge involving getting away from enemy vehicles and blowing other cars up. The “rage bar” is filled from jumping from ramps and crashing into street objects such as lamp-posts and mail boxes. Once the “rage bar” is used, the car you’re driving gains a lot of speed and makes your car’s rams much harder. Since the streets are filled with destructible objects, the rage bar mechanic can be used constantly through every mission, making most mission mechanics completely frivolous, even on hard mode.
The city that “Driver Renegade 3D” is set in is very expansive with many large islands to drive around. However, whilst the islands are large in size and are quite well designed, they’re ruined in part by the 3DS’ technical capabilities. Specifically, it’s ruined from this via the lack of cars rendered on the roads and a complete absence of any pedestrians despite seeing at least a few in a cut-scene set only seconds prior. With the lack of pedestrians and a showing of only 1-2 cars for any given street, it often makes missions very bare and similar with only you, your target and the inevitable “protection cars” to look at for 80% of the gameplay time. Outside of this, the cut-scenes are very well done with well animated and fully voice acted comic-based storytelling. This medium of telling the story is a little lacklustre however due to the lack of any substance or seriousness. The main character, Tanner seems noble but appears to have a problem with absolutely everyone in the world apart from himself. The conversations that he has with those he is even remotely friendly with consist of him calling them for demands, telling them how they’re unimportant in comparison to him and ending all conversations with vulgar one-liners and bad puns. Everything that Tanner does and says made me purposely want to see a story arc of him failing so that he’d actually be a character with personality rather than a bland slate of over-confidence.
Outside of “story mode” there’s an additional mode entitled “career mode” which involves choosing races and missions on a map of the islands. As you complete each mission and race you gain exp and more missions and races are unlocked. The races are good fun to play with the absence of a set track, taking the route of being able to choose your route to a destination gives a great feeling of freedom amongst a grand city, with cross-island races being a joy to play. There are other key differences between the modes such as the ability to select a car from all your unlocked cars, each with varying stats (unlike story mode where a car is always chosen for you). In addition, the soundtrack is different between the modes, allowing a good change of pace both aesthetically and in terms of game-play. The career mode also accounts for the use of streetpass, allowing record times and scores to be shared between 3DS owners of the game. If there was any reason to be excited about this game, it would be for the career mode that appears to have had a lot more time and effort in the pursuit of fun over the story mode which seems like a cheap method to unlock cars in comparison.
Whilst the career mode is much longer and provides a lot of real content for the game both in terms of personal progress and that of sharing your stats against the competition, any other re-playability has taken a real hit with Driver Renegade 3D. Using streetpass to share your times and records is the only way to connect with other drivers since multiplayer is completely missing from the game, both local and online. This is a real shame since even local multiplayer mixed with the fantastic mission and race mechanics of career mode would have made Driver Renegade 3D a much better game. The stereoscopic 3D effect of the 3DS does wonders for the games visuals with corners being clearly visible and the smoke effects looking great. However, the fast paced driving segments often move the sweet spot just out of reach, as a result you often find yourself crashing or spinning out your car trying to be able to get it back which can be frustrating.
The game’s menus, comic-based story and setting are quite good and expected of a city driving game but it’s severely let down by terrible faux-edgy dialogue and bare and uninteresting environments. The soundtrack is pretty good but in terms of gameplay there isn’t a lot there to look at or appreciate.
The cut-scenes are very well animated and drawn and is probably the most graphically pleasing part of the game, the cars and city aren’t well detailed and overall uninteresting but that’s probably down to the 3DS’ processing power. Either way, the lack of other cars except you and your target and the complete absence of pedestrians make this game very graphically lacking, even with the stereoscopic 3D.
The soundtrack of Driver Renegade 3D is surprisingly good in comparison to the rest of the game with different songs between game modes and a good selection of sounds against what’s happening on screen. The voice acting is high quality but lacks any kind of substance. A lot of the time you’ll be wanting to mute it altogether, mostly in part to Tanner saying the same bad puns for almost everything you do.
If the story mode’s gameplay could be anything like the Career mode’s gameplay than the game would be much better than it is at the moment. As it stands, the gameplay is very bland and boring with most missions being the same with different contexts. It’s incredibly easy even on “hard mode” and doesn’t bring a lot of excitement. Spend the 2-3 hours on story mode for unlocks alone and move on to the real game to get the full picture.
With story mode taking only a few hours to complete and Career mode taking little longer, the game gets very complete, very fast. The lack of any kind of multiplayer means that the only content the game gives you is what you take out of the box. The streetpass functionality is cool but with no online leaderboards or any tracking on a larger scale, it seems that the only reason to play past the unlock stage is to prove you’re better than someone you met on the bus.
Driver Renegade 3D isn’t a terrible game, it is however a game that could have been a lot better if it wasn’t just something riding off the back of the much bigger Driver release. The gameplay is repetitive, the story fails to be interesting or engaging, the lack of multiplayer gives the game very little long term interest and the only real silver lining is the remarkable career mode. Basically, this game falls short and in some cases doesn’t even know what it’s trying to be. It’s sad to say that whilst this could have been a great handheld entry into the driver series, what we actually got was a rough collection of driving game ideas that didn’t really get itself together.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.