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Friday, October 7, 2016

Micro Review: Driver: Renegade 3D for Nintendo 3DS

I love my pink 3DS and so should you.
 For? Nintendo 3DS    Who? Ubisoft    Year? 2011

Welcome to Micro Reviews - a new section of this blog where I briefly summarise and critique whatever I happen to be playing in the moment. No video, no recording software, no flashy lighting - just pure reviewing goodness.    

I've always been a fan of the Driver series ever since I first played Driver 1 and 2 years ago on the PSone - and even though it has been a bit hit and miss since then, my love of the first two always means that I will give a newer release a chance. Driver: San Francisco on the PS3 was quite an enjoyable game for instance, which was completely under my radar until I picked it up secondhand.

It's for that reason I felt compelled to give Renegade 3D a whirl - my childhood basically demands it at this point. Set in the modern day, Renegade 3D has you again playing as Tanner, but this time, he's left the police force because of his arsehole boss and general office politics. Wanting to still make a difference and take down the scum which plagues New York city, Tanner teams up with a Senator with the same ideals who protects him - gradually taking down each main crime figurehead in the laid-out story missions.
Unfortunately, the game foregoes an open-world level layout instead letting you choose each of the included 20 story missions from a menu. This is a little bit disappointing considering a reasonably large map of the city is included in-game (for a handheld release, anyway), but a more linear approach is what this game goes for.
There is no shooting or running around on foot in this entry to the series either, with all missions solely based around driving - much like in the first two Drivers. This isn't exactly a bad thing as it feels like it's going back to its roots somewhat - but you can't get out of your car. Instead, there are service stations scattered around the play area that will fix your vehicle if driven through.

The bottom screen is used as a map, which is handy to keep on eye on if you need to visit a service station.
The missions themselves are fairly bog-standard. In some, you must keep up with a foe (who are usually surrounded by guards who'd like nothing more than you to drive into a wall) while in other missions you must destroy either a main target or a bunch of smaller targets. This is achieved by either ramming straight into them - or by using a mechanic called The Rage Guage. This is filled up by running over objects or performing jumps - and allows a meter to fill up that allows you to either give your vehicle a temporary speed boost or smash into opponents on either side by using the back triggers.
It's a bit gimmicky but doesn't subtract much from the main gameplay. In fact, it even adds a bit of jest considering the missions are fairly bland anyway. 
I completed them all quite quickly. It was easy even on the hard setting, and I suck at games. The advantage of finishing a level on hard is that it unlocks vehicles to be used in the Career Mode. However, if you're finding a particular mission tough (you won't) you can switch the gameplay to easy at any time.
The Career mode is the other half of the game, and I recommend tackling this after the Story Mode so you have full access to the more powerful vehicles. These missions are more or less the same as the Story Mode. They have you completing missions like races, time trials and missions where you destroy stuff in a specified limit. To be fair it's nice they're included them to add a bit of longevity to the game - but they're kind of mindless and you won't be missing out on much if you decide to skip them.
Also tacked-on is a feature that allows your best times and whatever else to be transferred to other players via Street Pass. An okay idea in theory, but then again how likely is it that you'll walk past someone on the street who has this game in their pocket. In fact, does anyone even carry around their 3DS with them everywhere they go anymore? Hm. Probably not.

An example of a Career Mode mission
While the overall gameplay is sadly a bit dull, the visual presentation is actually of a reasonably high standard. Between each mission, you'll be treated to cutscenes. These are presented like an animated comic strip - much like what you'd see in the original Max Payne games. Even though the storyline is a bit generic - I still found the cutscenes enjoyable enough to not skip.
The actual graphics in-game are quite decent too and I found myself pleasantly surprised. The in-game world is lacking a bit of character, though, with there being no civilians wondering around and barely any traffic. The sections of the map don't differ that much either - you'll barely recognise that you're in a specific borough of New York, but what is there looks functional enough. The main highlight is the lighting engine - which makes the difference in some instances between plain and acceptable. 
As for the 3D effect the 3DS offers, I can't really add much. I'm one of the poor saps that get stupid headaches if I leave it on for too long. Sucks for me I guess, but on the upside, I save a lot of battery keeping it turned off.
The sound design isn't too average either, although sometimes the dialogue felt a bit forced. I must stress that it wasn't bad, though, and sometimes the game did extract a chuckle from me. The overall humour can be a bit lame a fair chunk of the time, however. For example, it's the type that throws in naughty words for shock value. It might appeal to some, but I saw it as a bit weak.

The cutscenes are worth not skipping - even if the dialogue can be a bit tiresome.
To conclude, Driver Renegade 3D isn't a totally terrible game but it's quite short and isn't exactly enthralling. It as its moments, but most of the time I felt a bit bored while playing. It is a Driver game, but it's missing the magic that some of the stronger entries in the series offer. 
If you're a diehard fan of Driver like myself then you'll probably feel compelled to try it. This is okay since it's not the worst thing ever, but I'd only pick it up if you can find it cheap and secondhand - which shouldn't be too much of an issue considering it's now five years old.

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