Take the 3D open-world gameplay of ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoIII'', put the player in the role of the police, set it in a [[TheSeventies '70s-esque]] RetroUniverse, and beat RockstarGames [[OlderThanTheyThink to the punch by two years]], and you have ''Driver: You Are the Wheelman''. In ''Driver'', you play as Tanner, an [[NewYorkCityCops NYPD detective]] who, due to [[BadassDriver his driving skills]], is sent undercover to investigate a criminal syndicate, taking him on a journey to UsefulNotes/{{Miami}}, UsefulNotes/SanFrancisco, UsefulNotes/LosAngeles and back to UsefulNotes/NewYorkCity. The game was styled after '60s and '70s car chase films like ''Film/{{Bullitt}}'', ''Film/TheFrenchConnection'' and ''Film/TheDriver'', to the point of including a "Director's Mode" that allows you to place cameras during replays to follow your action.

Developed by Reflections Interactive and released in 1999, ''Driver'' pushed the UsefulNotes/PlayStation to its limits technologically, and proved to be a smash hit, anticipating the boom of WideOpenSandbox games that would emerge in the next console generation. So naturally, there was pressure for sequels. ''Driver 2'' went out the door the following year. It added curved roads[[note]]In the first game, every corner was at a 90-degree angle due to the limitations of the technology. While this was acceptable at intersections, this made turns on, say, bridges rather awkward.[[/note]], foreign cities (Havana and Rio de Janeiro, in addition to UsefulNotes/{{Chicago}} and UsefulNotes/LasVegas), and clunky on-foot controls. A GameBoyAdvance version was released in 2002.

In 2004, ''[[Letters2Numbers DRIV3R]]'' (pronounced ''Driver 3''), the series' debut on the UsefulNotes/PlayStation2 and UsefulNotes/{{Xbox}}, attempted to play catch-up with the ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAuto'' series by introducing gunplay and recruiting such voice talent as Creator/MichaelMadsen, Creator/VingRhames and Creator/MichelleRodriguez.

Reflections released ''Driver: Parallel Lines'' in 2006. Set entirely in UsefulNotes/NewYorkCity and its [[{{Joisey}} New Jersey]] suburbs rather than multiple cities like the other games, it instead took place over a period of time -- the first half was set in [[TheSeventies 1978]], while the second half took place in ThePresentDay. It also took place in a new continuity-focusing on a young man known only as TK who rises through NYC's criminal underworld only to be betrayed and thrown into jail, and is out for revenge upon release.

A prequel, ''Driver 76'', was released the following year for the UsefulNotes/PlayStationPortable.

In 2011, Reflections (now Creator/{{Ubisoft}} Reflections) took another shot at the series with ''VideoGame/DriverSanFrancisco'', the first game in the series for the UsefulNotes/PlayStation3 and UsefulNotes/{{Xbox 360}}. Returning to the first three games' continuity and, like ''Parallel Lines'', taking place entirely in one city ([[CaptainObvious guess which one it is]]), ''San Francisco'' goes the supernatural[=/=]MindScrew route by taking place [[AllJustADream while Tanner is in a coma]]... and giving him "shifting" powers that allow him to [[MindControl possess other drivers on the road]].

Coinciding with ''San Francisco'''s release is ''Driver: Renegade'' for the UsefulNotes/Nintendo3DS. Set [[{{Interquel}} between the first two games]], the story begins with Tanner quitting the NYPD and striking out on his own as a VigilanteMan. Tanner is soon recruited by Senator Andrew Ballard to take down five of New York City's most notorious crime lords.

The latest instalment is ''Driver: Speedboat Paradise'', with only [[RecycledInSPACE boats instead of cars]] to play with and developed by former Creator/{{Gameloft}} staff. Most recently, Reflections helped out with Ivory Tower with the development of ''VideoGame/TheCrew'', a racing MMO that was released in 2014.


* ArchEnemy: Jericho is Tanner's.
** TheDragon: On his debut in ''2'', he's this to Solomon Caine.
*** [[spoiler:TheStarscream: Kills Caine in ''3'' for letting Tanner, an undercover cop, into the group and leading to Jericho's arrest.]]
*** DragonAscendant / DragonInChief: Becomes the primary antagonist, and definitely the most dangerous.
* BadassBeard: Tanner sports one in ''Renegade''.
** TK also has one in ''Parallel Lines'' after [[spoiler:serving his prison sentence]].
* BadassDriver
* BigBad: In ''Parallel Lines'', [[spoiler:it's Corrigan, also the FinalBoss]].
* BottomlessMagazines: ''[=DRIV3R=]'', ''Parallel Lines'', and ''76'' give you handguns with infinite magazines as your starting weapon.
* CarChase: The series' bread and butter.
* CarFu: Half the time in ''SF'' will be spent [[DestructiveSaviour driving semis into]] [[HeroicComedicSociopath oncoming traffic to stop a street race.]]
** In the game's climax BigBad Jericho will [[spoiler: throw cars at Tanner]]. Since it's AllJustADream, Tanner can, too.
* {{Cliffhanger}}: ''[=DRIV3R=]'' ended on one, which wasn't answered for seven years.
* ClusterFBomb: Tanner has quite the potty-mouth in ''Renegade''.
** ''Renegade'' in general is quite heavy on the cursing.
* CoolCar: Tanner's Dodge Challenger in ''San Francisco''. This also applies to some of the 139 other vehicles
** Such as The [=DeLorean=] DMC-12, a 1970 Ford Mustang Mach 1 Fastback, Pontiac Trans Am, etc. Pretty much every CoolCar used in a chase scene shows up.
* CoolShades: TK wears these in the first half of ''Parallel Lines''.
* CowboyCop: Tanner, to the hilt. He's perfectly willing to go head to head with other cops if it helps him reach his goal.
* DifficultySpike: The final level of the first game. Even using an invincibility cheat, it's easy to lose the level by having your car flipped over.
* DonutMessWithACop: In ''Parallel Lines'', one side mission involves outlasting a police chase. Initiating this requires ramming a doughnut stand.
* DramaticIrony: Throughout ''San Francisco'', the player is aware of Tanner's coma, but Tanner himself isn't.
* TheDriver: Of course.
* DyingDream: ''San Francisco'' takes place mostly within Tanner's coma dream. [[spoiler:Subverted, as he recovers in the end.]]
* FallingDamage: Present in ''[=DRIV3R=]''. Walking off of an elevated train track in Miami, for example, would damage you, if not outright kill you.
%%* FiveBadBand: In ''Parallel Lines'':
* FragileSpeedster: On average, the cops are faster than you, but aren't able to take as many hits.
* GatlingGood: ''Parallel Lines'' has the Blaine minigun, which is unlocked towards the end of the second half of the game.
* InterfaceScrew: One mission in the second half of ''Parallel Lines'' has TK [[spoiler:get injected with a hallucinogenic drug]]. During the ensuing chase, the screen becomes increasingly blurred, and stays that way until you get to a garage.
* LastBreathBullet: Jericho [[spoiler:seems to do this at the end of ''[=DRIV3R=]''.]] Subverted, as the beginning of ''San Francisco'' shows both Tanner and Jericho still alive.
* LemmingCops: The police act more like homing missiles with sirens (at least in the early games,) and their driving skills aren't anywhere near as good as yours can be, so often some simple slaloming between obstacles can be enough to get them to start smashing into everything.
* LesCopsSportif: Nice in ''[=DRIV3R=]'' features the National Police. The mission '18-Wheeler' also features the Gendarmerie.
* LighterAndSofter: ''Driver 2'' compared to the original.
* MindControl: Tanner's "shifting" powers in ''San Francisco'' basically amount to this.
* MinusWorld: The city of [[UsefulNotes/NorthEastEngland Newcastle-upon-Tyne]] in the first game, which is shown during the credits and [[DummiedOut can only be accessed in-game by hacking]]. It is also the hometown of Reflections.
** Falling into the skybox in the sequel normally registers as a BottomlessPit death, but with a certain glitch, you can survive the fall and drive around in the void.
* NewYorkCityCops: Tanner is an NYPD detective in the first game.
* NewYorkIsOnlyManhattan: Averted by ''Driver'' and ''Driver: Parallel Lines''. ''Driver'' takes place in New York in the last part of the game and part of the map includes Brooklyn. ''Parallel Lines'', on the other hand, includes not only Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx (but not Staten Island), but a portion of New Jersey as well.
* NiceJobFixingItVillain: Depending on where they're set up, police barricades in the first game can be a blessing in disguise. Since they never think to block off the sidewalk, you can just slip right through while most of your pursuers smash right into it.
* NintendoHard: The final level of the first game, "The President's Run," is a LuckBasedMission... meaning that if you get really, really lucky, you ''might'' be able to do it.
** "Chase the Gunman" in ''[[SequelDifficultySpike Driver 2]]'' is commonly regarded as the most difficult of the series, being even more luck based than "The President's Run".
** Even the normal, non-hard-as-balls missions can be really tough, too. Even if the cops are dumb as rocks, acting more like homing missiles with sirens, they can be ''extremely'' persistent, and the slightest mistake can ruin the entire mission.
* NitroExpress: In one mission of the first game, you must deliver a crate of unstable explosives in a pickup truck across the hills of San Francisco. In another level in the second game, you must take down an explosives-laden truck by ramming it.
* NoSwastikas: The criminal organizations that Tanner infiltrates in the first and second games are based on TheMafia and the Chicago Outfit respectively but are never named.
* ObviousBeta: Looking at all the glitches, bugs, and sometimes poor physics in ''[=DRIV3R=]'', it's not unreasonable to conclude that the game just wasn't finished.
* OnlyOneName: Tanner and Jericho. ''San Francisco'' revealed their first names to be "John" and "Charles" respectively.
* PlotTwist: In ''Parallel Lines'', it's [[spoiler:getting arrested because all five of your friends -- The Mexican, Candy, Slink, Bishop and Corrigan -- use you as a scapegoat for their crime and leave you to be arrested 28 years. Your 6th friend (Ray) then betrays you later to defect to Corrigan.]]
* ProductPlacement: Advertisements for Nokia and [=SoBe=] are everywhere in ''[=DRIV3R=]''. Strangely, the Miami stage features big rigs belonging to [[BlandNameProduct "Haul-U"]].
* RailroadTracksOfDoom: Las Vegas in the second game has a level where you must run for a car parked on a train bridge and get it off the tracks before the train arrives.
* RetroUniverse: Despite being set in the present day (except for the first half of ''Parallel Lines''), the games all feel ''very'' [[TheSeventies '70s]]. Incidentally, the first half of ''Parallel Lines'' actually takes place in the '70s.
* RoaringRampageOfRevenge: TK, after [[spoiler:being betrayed by his employers and getting incarcerated for 28 years]], spends the second half of ''Parallel Lines'' getting back at the people responsible for his imprisonment.
* RubberbandAI: If a cop falls far enough behind you, it goes into what fans call "doublespeed", [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin gaining double the normal top speed in order to catch up]]. Especially noticeable in ''[=DRIV3R=]''.
* SequelDifficultySpike: While the original could be quite difficult at times, some of ''Driver 2'''s missions are ridiculously hard, even when compared to the original's most difficult missions.
* SawedOffShotgun / GunsAkimbo: Jericho dual wields double barrelled sawn off shotguns.
* ShoutOut:
** The tutorial in the first game is lifted directly from a similar scene in ''Film/TheDriver'', where the main character proves his skills to some gangsters in a parking garage.
** To prevent any doubt, they even lifted the car crash sound effect from this scene in the movie.
** Several missions in the first game and the sequel also mirror or homage famous car chase sequences in movies such as ''Film/TheFrenchConnection'' and ''Film/{{Bullitt}}''.
** Same goes for the "Movie Challenges" in '' San Francisco '', special missions that closely resemble famous movie chase scenes.
** In one mission in SF, Tanner has to catch two low lifes who stole a church collection box. His reaction? He's always wanted to say that [[Film/TheBluesBrothers he's on a mission from God]]
** The secret NintendoHard NostalgiaLevel is unlocked by driving [[Film/BackToTheFuture 88 mph in a DeLorean.]]
* TheSpook: In ''Driver 2'', the captain suggests Vasquez is just a name.
* TimedMission: Quite a few. Perhaps the worst offenders are certain missions in the first game that require you to rendezvous with another character while the police aren't actively looking for you. Since you could just drive leisurely to the rendezvous point with little difficulty, the game enforces an arbitrary time limit for these missions requiring you haul ass. Either the people giving you these missions are giving out completely unreasonable meeting times, or Tanner is the ultimate procrastinator.
* TimeSkip: ''Parallel Lines'' fast-forwards 28 years after TK [[spoiler:is betrayed and sent to prison]].
* TimeTravel: Beating ''Parallel Lines'' allows you to switch between 1978 and 2006.
%%* TutorialFailure: The ForcedTutorial is legendary for being complete garbage.
* UnusuallyUninterestingSight: In ''San Francisco'', Tanner keeps seeing black billboards with strange messages. When Tanner points them out to Jones, he doesn't seem too fazed by it, at one point telling Tanner the billboards have "been up for years."
* [[WakeUpCallBoss Wake-Up Call Mission]]: Find the Clue in ''Driver 2''.
* WideOpenSandbox: From ''Parallel Lines'' onward.