Driver: Vegas First Impressions

Tanner's back with a vengeance in Glu's mobile-only sequel to Driver 3.

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Last year's Driver 3 for mobile, produced when Glu was still named Sorrent, was a pretty good action game that sold more than a million copies worldwide. The game was so successful, in fact, that Atari decided to grant Glu unprecedented leeway with the license. Driver: Vegas, which is due out later this year, is the first mobile-only sequel to a console game, meaning that Driver fans should start prepping their phones for the download now if they want a fix before the release of Driver 4. But this isn't some simple expansion pack to the original mobile game, either. Glu's modernized everything from the graphics to the car selection in this great-looking sequel.

In Driver: Vegas, undercover cop Tanner wakes up on an operating table after having been left for dead at the end of Driver 3. This time around, you've got some business in Sin City, where you must take down the crime syndicates that operate in and around the city's casinos. When development on Driver: Vegas began in March, the plan was to have it take place in San Francisco...but Glu called an audible early on in the process to switch to the glitzier Las Vegas environment.

Once that little matter was resolved, Glu started to devote a lot of effort to bringing Driver into late 2005. It started with the graphics, which are much bigger and bolder than they were in the last game. The overhead camera's zoomed in to about half the old distance, so now you can actually see the cars' identifying traits, and Tanner no longer looks like a tiny stick figure. The animation's improved markedly, too. For instance, it's now possible to peel out a 180, leaving a trail of rubber in your wake. Additionally, the cars now sport realistic smoke and fire effects when damaged, which is a nice bit of detail for a game that involves crashing into things at high speeds. There are six cars this time around, from the extraheavy pimpmobile to the Porsche analog, and they all have different driving physics. The most impressive addition to the game, however, is probably the out-of-car action. During it, we witnessed Tanner march through the interior of a casino while wasting goons with his auto-aiming handgun as he went. Although the indoor sequences will be the exception rather than the rule, it's still a great feature for a game that focuses mostly on driving. Glu also made noises about the possibility of Tanner using more than one type of gun, although this hasn't been decided yet. In any case, Glu has already implemented drive-by shootings.

Although we weren't able to play Driver: Vegas in its pre-alpha condition, we were very impressed by what we saw and are looking forward to seeing a more complete version sometime soon. This game seems like it will provide much more of the console-type experience that hardcore Driver fans are probably looking for. Stay tuned to this gamespace for additional coverage.

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