Damage to vehicles in Driver is similar to the previous games in the series, albeit more detail has been added to the way vehicles react to damage, and the effects different types of collisions have on cars.
Cars in the game are generally rigid with no visual signs of the frame itself suffering from deformation, though specific body parts deform, some more than others. The front hood, fenders and rear trunk are the most prone parts to physically deform, while other parts such as bumpers, skirts and doors will simply fall off or loosen in the event of a collision. Car wheels can also be lost in large crashes.
Lights can be damaged, where the lights will no longer brighten up the area in front, making it harder to see. Zartexs' lightbars are unique in that they can be partially dimmed, so the color of the light turns red.
Engines also suffer damage too. When too many crashes occur, the engine begins to take damage, and eventually begins to smoke. The average car will take 2 major or 4 minor collisions before light gray smoke appears coming out of the engine bay. While this doesn't immediately affect performance, the smoke signifies more continuous collisions will eventually cause performance issues. At this point, more crashes cause the smoke to turn darker, or black. When at this point, the acceleration is severely reduced, to the point that the average car that wheel spins upon set off (the majority of muscles, 2 doors, 4 doors, sports and race cars) is no longer present, as the engine cannot provide nearly enough power to the powered axle. The top speed is also significantly dropped. Once the engine takes too much damage, it will give up and burst into flames. At this point, the vehicle is either almost impossible to drive, or it comes to a complete halt. Unlike how the manual states, cars do not explode naturally, and will only explode once shot at (when on fire). When a car has exploded, it will turn its base color (black) (or just a dirty, beater version of the livery if it is a livery-based car) and all remaining parts will be blown off. The car will indefinitely flame, unless the player leaves the area, in which the flames will disappear. The car is now inaccessible.
Cars also take bullet damage. Bullet holes will be visible within glass, body work, as well as tyres (where tyres will deflate). Engines will be damaged faster under fire from weapons, with faster, deadlier weapons killing the engine quicker.As well as landmass and other map components such as buildings and static objects, props such as lampposts, fences and railings can cause damage to the player's vehicle if they ram it at a speed lower than 40 mph, and the prop will not be destroyed (or fall over) until it is hit at a speed more than 40 mph. The amount of damage that these props can do to a vehicle is more than meets the eye; they can fully immobilize a vehicle if the player spends around 5 minutes continuously ramming the object. Otherwise, the vehicle sustains visual deformation, shattered windows if they are hit just once.
- Cars on fire can be pushed by the player easier than cars in normal condition. Wrecks are much harder to push.
- Rarely, destroyed or heavily damaged cars may have all extra visual damage restored, so the car looks completely fine, albeit missing wheels on fully destroyed cars. This glitch can occur on Zartexs and M700s, particularly when in large shootouts involving said cars.
- When a vehicle is heavily damaged, a different texture is applied to it to make the damage look more severe. This is also the reason why almost every vehicle in the game has two textures; the default texture and the 'damaged' texture.
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