Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Review: Driver: Renegade (3DS)

The long running, and recently resurgent, Driver franchise makes it's debut on the Nintendo 3DS. But does a portable Tanner still have the skills of his console cousins?

There's a pretty fine line between tongue in cheek and unintentionally goofy. After playing through Driver: Renegade on the 3DS, I can honestly say- I have no idea which this is supposed to be... not that that's an entirely bad thing.

See, both the script and the voice work in ex-cop Tanner's latest adventure are almost gloriously bad. In particular, the catch phrase lines that Tanner throws out when he bashes into a bad guy's car are hilariously terrible. I'm just not entirely sure they're supposed to be. At times, the mix of bad scripting and half-assed voice work made what might be an otherwise boring mission into something entirely tolerable.

Now you've made me MAD!
In fact, just seeing Tanner's reaction to events was fun in a Plan 9 kind of way. But lets talk nuts and bolts because in that respect, Renegade is even more of a mixed bag.

Tanner is confined to his various rides for the entirety of the story and there are no 'on foot' missions, so having a really solid control system for all the driving is essential. For the most part, it works. All the vehicles control differently which is where some of the problems arise- some, like the standard yellow ramrod, can turn on a dime. Others will spin out and generally be a pain in the backside if you look at them funny.

But if you do lose control of your ride and you (or some bad guys) damage your car too badly you can run yourself through a garage to patch up. Don't look for any kind of realism whatsoever here, because that's really what you do to fix a damaged car. You careen past the front door of garages like they're drive through's and magically (there's even a 'magic wand' type sound effect) your wheels are like new again. Silly? Yes. Useful in a chase? Yes.

Don't be fooled! Tanner is never playable on foot.
Speaking of chasing- you'll be playing a lot of that because missions are either of chase and takedown or escape variety. It's pretty self-explanitory stuff. Escaping requires you to outrun your opponents and make it to a specific point on the (actually pretty large) map. It's a decent time but I liked the chase missions much better. In those, you bash countless cars (and occasionally a 'boss' car) into balls of flame.

It almost reminds me of the Simpsons, you know- where some little nothing will happen to an object and it combusts into a nuclear-size kaboom. And then the T man lets loose with one of his lines. Something like "oops... sorry ____head" Good stuff.

But there are some genuinely bad points here too. The 3D effect, at least when cranked up, is just way too much. Even on a less intense setting, it can be aggravating. I found that the game just moves too fast for the 3D to be enjoyable or usable in any way and my natural movement while playing made me lose the effect so often that I actually wrecked every time I tried to use it. Not great.

Ball of flame in 3...2...
Another point that may bother some is that the single player experience will take you about an afternoon to get through and that might be generous. Each mission only take a few minutes and there are only 20 of them. Moving by quickly can be a sort of good thing for a portable game, since they're best in bite size chunks- but this one just zooms by.

I don't want to dump on Driver: Renegade too much here because all in all, there is some fun to be had here. The missions are okay, if a bit repetitive, and the voice and writing are goofy and good for a laugh... I do find it a little hard to recommend though, simply for the reason that the game is just so short.

In the end, at least on the 3DS, Tanner might need to bring his hotrod into the shop.

Bottom Line: