CTIA 2005 Driver: Vegas Hands-On

We take a fresh look at Glu Mobile's wireless-only sequel to Driver 3 at CTIA.

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SAN FRANCISCO--Glu Mobile announced its development of a mobile-only sequel to Driver 3, Driver: Vegas, at a recent press event. However, it didn't provide hands-on demos at the time; instead, we were only able to watch a producer play the game. It looked pretty impressive, but we had no idea how the gameplay would actually feel. But now that we've gone hands-on with Driver: Vegas, we have a more conclusive picture of how this vehicular action adventure game is shaping up. In a nutshell, we're encouraged.

Tanner's not a good guy to mess with.
Tanner's not a good guy to mess with.

As we said in our first preview of Driver: Vegas, Driver 3's engine has been given a complete overhaul in every way, and our hands-on experience clarified the dramatic changes further. This game simply moves at a much, much faster pace than the original did, even on the exact same handset. When you're driving around on the Vegas strip in a big "pimpmobile," it actually feels like it, because the game does a marvelous job of re-creating the speed and handling of its six types of vehicles. Squealing around corners isn't a matter of watching your car woodenly turn 45 degrees at a time. Instead, it's a very smooth, realistic motion, and it becomes much harder at high speeds.

We also gave some of Driver: Vegas's new gameplay features a whirl. For one thing, it's now possible to shoot out of the side of your car...not really to conduct drive-bys, but to slow down or stop cars you're chasing. The on-foot casino levels weren't really complete yet in the build, but we got a better impression of Glu's plan for this sequence. We marched Tanner around a bit between roulette tables and slots, auto-aiming and gunning down thugs as pretty as you please. Apparently, a number of Tanner's main adversaries, who use colorful monikers like Rabbit, Sidewinder, and Crux, hang out at various casinos. Tanner, being the no-nonsense fellow he is, will just barge right in and start shooting.

In every instance, the game's environments live up to the real-life seediness of 1980s vintage Las Vegas. For example, the casino floors are arranged in eye-breaking patterns, and the city's dark streets have a mean, hard-knock look to them. The tutorial level takes place in the city's desert outskirts, where it's easy to imagine that dozens of mobsters are buried under the scrub brush.

All in all, Driver: Vegas looks like it'll do the console games justice when it comes out around the middle of November. We'll try to get a more advanced preview for you before then.

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