Eurogamer Retro: Driv3r, Also: Comments

By John Walker on July 25th, 2011 at 10:16 am.

Ah, classy.

Yesterday saw Eurogamer display my retrospective of DrivTHREEr, Atari/Reflections’ astonishingly bad sequel to their loved franchise. In it I say things like,

“Vehicles drive like angry shopping trolleys filled with cannonballs being precariously pushed along a bowling alley. But on foot is when you get to enjoy your character (I’m sure he has a name) stumbling around like a man having his first go at walking, on a trampoline covered in marbles.”

And most interesting to me have been the comments beneath.

Driver 3 is empirically bad. Enjoyment of a game is certainly in the mind of the player, and the very point of my article is that I enjoy playing Driver 3 thanks to quite how dreadful it is. But there are certain things that we, as a gaming community, have agreed are simply unacceptable. Bugs are clearly one of them, and Driver 3 has so many that listing them would be an article of its own. But just the pop-up alone – something I completely forgot to mention when writing – is enough to condemn this game as a disaster. Buildings, trees, lampposts, people, and most significantly, cars, pop into existence just metres ahead of your vehicle. Something that makes the car chases the game is supposedly focused on a touch difficult to enjoy.

In a very telling defence of the game, Martin Edmondson spoke to Driving Games Pro about how the on-foot sections had let their game down. And of course there’s no question that these were abysmal. A character who struggles to walk, certainly can’t jump, and constantly gets stuck inside objects like walls, boats, bonnets, is a little bit problematic. Combined with the awful controls, enemy AI that deserves some sort of award for being so embarrassing, and a complete lack of animations to demonstrate if anyone’s being hit, just the basics are abysmal, before you even have the bugs of watching people die three times, fly off into the air, or judder in a corner like they’re slipping out of reality. But the inference is that the rest of the game was just fine, and people were overreacting.

Whereas in reality it’s an absolutely clusterfuck of brokenness, inane difficulty, dreadful checkpointing (always before a cutscene), nonsensical narrative, unexplained missions, rubberbanding and every other form of game-breaking AI cheating imaginable, dreary acting, and just bug upon bug upon bug.

So this fascinates me:

INSOMANiAC: I completed this twice on PS2, I actually though it was a good game, it just required a level of skill and precision that GTA fans didnt appreciate. It was what it was and I loved it for it.

Bloobat: have to say i disagree with the people who said it was a bad game, i really enjoyed it and played it for years, i thought the story was brilliant and the car damage fantastic!

BBIAJ: I bought this on launch day, still have it, completed it numerous times, will never get rid of it.

gonzax: Funny review, totally blown out of proportion, to be honest; the game is nowhere as bad as it says and by no means is one of the worst games ever, in fact, despite all of its flaws (and there’s a few) it is actually quite good, better than most shitty FPS games we get these days.

MasonMk: Loved this game when my dad had it on his xbox, then i brought it for myself a year later for PS2 and still loved it. So many hours i spent crushing cars on that draw bridge xD. Recently brought it back on PS2, and it’s still fun to play now. Brilliant game, don’t get the hate around it, all the people i know personally who had played it had loved it too.

Swifta: I can see why so many people hated this game but I absolutely loved it… Yeah it had it’s moments but I have played MUCH worse games!

They are six people among around 50 who responded, the majority of which told their own tales of how bad the game was. It’s not representative. But it’s significant. You could argue that such people are simply escapees of secure homes, but there are too many of them all at once, and it would be wrong to do so anyway. A large proportion of my brain is dedicated to feeling envious of that group – they get to be richly entertained where most only see disaster. And then I wonder if the rest of us are missing something – if we’re viewing the game as if through a glass darkly, and if we could only learn to open our eyes we too would discover the riches within. And then I think, they’re probably the reason Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer get to keep making movies.

So, rather than saying, “Huh, what’s up with THOSE guys?”, how about we all instead confess to which game it is that we genuinely enjoy (non-ironically) that is pretty ostensibly poop?

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227 Comments »

  1. ChaosSmurf says:

    Gun Metal was fucking incredible and if you didn’t like it you don’t understand the term ‘fun’

  2. Ralphomon says:

    The whole JRPG model is pretty much a divorce between gameplay and story and thus not the way to make a properly good game. That said, I’ve really enjoyed pretty much every JRPG I’ve played. The Spirit Engine 2 is a freeware indie pseudo-JRPG that turns into a grindfest on anything but easy difficulty but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  3. Corrupt_Tiki says:

    I actually can’t really recall anything standing out too much. Maybe the really bad ones I have not commited to memory, for they are not worthy, hmm.

  4. Schadenfreude says:

    Gothic 3

    A broken mess of a game released around the same time as Oblivion, but I just loved it. The world seemed ‘realer’ to me than Oblivion’s (Actual cliffs and ravines! No potato-faces!) and I had so much more fun exploring.

    Also, I got to to hunt down and kill King Rhobar at long last – throw me in prison will ya?!

    • domowoj says:

      seconding this. the combat was horrible and the writing and voice acting were questionable and so much of everything just felt really weird and unpolished and AWFUL but it was still very atmospheric and the world design was incredible.

      i’d probably still be playing it on and off today if i didn’t hold a grudge against it for killing my old desktop.

    • Batolemaeus says:

      I struggle to think of Gothic 3 as a really bad game.
      And yes, I bought it at release, and oh god the bugs. But still, There was a game underneath with great sense of place and some real accomplishments – I feel nobody else can pull off a game without questmarkers anymore. Most characters are memorable enough that you know where to go. An unholy amount of bugs doesn’t really make a horrible game, there needs to be more.

    • Syrion says:

      Although, nowadays with the latest Community Patch applied, Gothic 3 works well and isn’t unusually buggy anymore, at all.

      Even though it’s not as good as the predecessor, I had a lot of fun for many hours with Gothic 3 in this state.

  5. LuNatic says:

    Neverwinter Nights 2 original campaign. A lot of people hate on it while praising The Mask of The Betrayer, but I much preferred the OC.

    A Bards Tale(the newish one). Sure the gameplay was awful, but the story was so hilarious I turned on the cheats and rushed through the fights so I could get to all the dialogue parts.

    Crysis. Aside from the zero G bit, I really enjoyed the campaign of the first one and Warhead wasn’t bad either.

    On similar note, here are some reasonably popular games that I disliked:

    Civ IV. Every now and then some webpage will guilt me into installing it and trying again. I’ve never managed to last more than an hour or so before getting bored and giving up. Before you write off my attention span, I’d like to point out that I love Dwarf Fortress and the Total War games.

    Dragon Age. I got perhaps 15 hours in, got up to do something else and never found the motivation to pick up where I left off.

    Mass Effect. I finished this one, but only to avoid the nagging feeling I get for nearing the end of a story without finishing it.

    Burnout Paradise. After achieving the first couple of milestones in career, I realised that every event seemed so similar that I couldn’t tell them apart.

    Dawn of War 1 and expansions. I played through them, but more because I was enjoying my first taste of 40k lore. I wasn’t that interested in the gameplay.

    Assassins Creed. The small bouts of gameplay that appeared between the huge amounts of travelling were reasonably enjoyable, but too far apart to keep me playing. There is a reason why most games teleport the player from story event to story event.

    Borderlands: I really liked my my first playthrough, as I hoarded l00tz and exploded everything in site with my sniper rifle that caused huge fireballs to engulf my targets at epic distances. I wilfully accepted samey gameplay and awful netcode for the chance of large scale co-op mayhem on PC. I was eagerly anticipating the inevitably awesome unveiling of the mysterious vault. And you know what? The ending really, really sucked. It sucked so bad that somehow all those hours of entertainment were somehow wiped from my memory by the sense I had somehow been cheated of my deserved victory. It would have been more fulfilling to have opened a door and walked into a rickroll.

    • Ross Angus says:

      Aren’t most of those games universally seen as good-to-excellent? Am I missing something?

    • Dominic White says:

      Half the games listed in this thread are highly polished, critically acclaimed hits. A lot of internet folks seem to have lost all sense of perspective outside of their favourite echo-chamber forums.

    • LuNatic says:

      Ross: You are missing something indeed. Fourth paragraph I turned things around and started listing popular games I didn’t like.

    • Avish says:

      I don’t think that NWN2 OP is better than MOTB, but I also don’t understand all the hate.
      It was not perfect and maybe a little longer than it should have been, but I really really enjoyed going through it twice and thought the story was rather good (despite the ending) with some great moments and meaningful decision making.

  6. LennyLeonardo says:

    Prototype: I know loads of people genuinely like it but I couldn’t get rid of the little voice saying “you really shouldn’t be enjoying this”, as I simultaneously hacked up my 90,000th zombie, and 20,000th innocent bystander.
    The amorality of it just makes me feel dirty.

  7. khamul says:

    Any Might And Magic game. However, I will not say Heroes of Might and Magic IV, because it is GREAT and you are ALL WRONG.

  8. Henke says:

    What? Far Cry 2? DX:IW? Modern Warfare 2? Most of you aren’t even TRYING. Here’s how it’s done:

    LOST:Via Domus (360 version. yeah the one based on the TV series.)
    Driv3r (played through the SP two or three times. The vehicle handling is as good as in Driver 1 and the carchases were great.)
    Clive Barker’s Jericho
    Rogue Warrior (well, ok I can’t exactly say I loved it but I did play all the way through it. The core gameplay is very good. It’s just that the controls and everything else is broken. :/ )
    MEGARACE(For a kid coming straight from Commodore 64 gaming, this was some pretty mindblowing stuff!)

    Yes, I am a true connoisseur of bargain-bin crap that noone else wants. I can find redeeming qualities in the worst pieces of shit. …it’s not one of my better qualities or anything.

  9. ChainsawCharlie says:

    Drthr33ver bugs me because i haven’t finished it. Remember getting to a sequence where I had to race someone by a marina. Remember the AI being very unforgiving.

  10. Fullforce says:

    Kane & Lynch: Dead Men.

    It’s broken, it’s ugly, the plot is nonsensical, it’s not enough like Freedom Fighters. I hated it.

    But I loved it.

  11. Temple says:

    The writing in Gears of War 2.
    The actual gameplay was boring, but the liking the writing of GoW far more than the writing in ANY other game is what I consider my second sin here on RPS and I am happy to bury it on page 3 so no one will read it.

  12. I_have_no_nose_but_I_must_sneeze says:

    Phantasmagoria 2: A Puzzle of Flesh. The plot is ridiculous B-Movie nonsense, most of the acting’s painful to watch, and the less said about the “puzzles” the better. Yet I somehow managed to get tremendous enjoyment out of it in my first playthrough. Come to think of it, in subsequent playthroughs as well. I… I can’t believe I’ve played this more than once. *Sobs quietly in corner*

    I’ve also enjoyed games by Cryo Interactive, such as the Atlantis Series and Dreams to Reality and several first-person adventure games with awkward FMV sequences. The 7th Guest and Shivers come to mind. I should also add the Myst series. Though dark corners of the web exist where these games are hailed as masterpieces, this site is certainly not one of them so I’m confident this is a controversial choice. For what it’s worth, I think only the fourth game in the series is really great, but none of the others are glorified slide-shows either.

  13. Batolemaeus says:

    Fallen Earth, if we’re counting mmos. Alternatively Wurm Online. Probably Eve too.

    Both are simply broken. On many, many levels. FE is dragging around an engine not fit for gunplay with severe limitations and it looks a bit rubbish. Additionally, there are just questionable design decisions and mediocre pve.
    Dito for Wurm, which is also incredibly grindy just to get anywhere.
    I still love both.

    Eve is entirely broken. Mechanically, the game is a trainwreck. You can name me just about any (gameplay) mechanic and I can tell you more than one way in which it doesn’t work. The whole thing works only because of the ingenuity of the players and only appeals through them. Otherwise, nobody else would ever put up with things as comically broken as pos mechanics.

    Now that I think about it, MMOs seem to get away with much more than single player games.
    How about retroreviewspecting a few MMOs with the standards used for single player?

  14. Chaz says:

    Thats a hard question actually as I can hardly think of any crap games that I can say I’ve truely enjoyed playing. Suffered through to completion yes, but enjoyed no. I suppose the only examples I can think of are:

    Vietcong 2. I really enjoyed it and have played it through at least 3 times. The campaign is very short, the graphics even on release looked dated and despite that it still ran like a stuck pig even on good high end PC’s, it was so poorly optimised. It was also quite challenging and poorly check pointed, and yet despite all that I really loved it as the combat just felt right.

    Boiling Point: Road to Hell. I’m not sure this should be here really as it’s generally regarded as a flawed classic now, but at the time most reviews slated it. Well it was absolutely chock full of bugs too numerous to mention but I loved it and it still remains one of my favourite open world games.

  15. bill says:

    See, I enjoyed Driver 3.

    I wouldn’t put it on a pedestal as the best game ever, but I had fun with it. Possibly two important factors were that it came free with my xbox and that I played it long after release – so I went in expecting it to be terrible and fully aware of all the complaints against it. 90% of which I thought were exaggerated.

    I played it after GTA3 and I thought that the driving and the atmosphere was better. GTA3 was a great sandbox for crazy knock-about fun, jumping cars over buildings, and had a great weird open city. And it’s driving model suited that.
    But Driver3′s driving model felt more realistic, in an action movie kind of way. And the city felt like a real city with great lighting. When it all came together and you were threading your way through traffic in a high speed chase it was like being in Starsky & Hutch or something.

    Story was meh, but it kept things going. On-foot was meh, but it was VERY limited.

    IMHO the game just had one flaw that made everyone hate it – the collision model with the environment. Lamp posts, dustbins, bollards, cones – clipping ANYTHING would bring you to a crashing halt. Realistic maybe, but annoying as hell! And many of the missions didn’t give you a lot of leeway, so one bin 20 minutes into a chase could kick you right back to the start.

    One of the penultimate missions – the one where you start parked and have to handbrake turn out of that row of cars and go blind across a busy intersection – I replayed that over 150 times! (and I only started counting after I’d failed it a LOT!).

    I’m not kidding (and not some crazy guy) when I say that that mission (and a few others) had me actually planning to cut up the dvd, and writing threatening letters in my head, to send to the developers.

    Yet, despite that, I overall had fun with the game, driving about at high speed looking cool. If there had been a no-clip patch for environmental objects then I think it’d have been a solid 75% game.

    It seems like one of those games that everyone bashes because everyone bashes it – but it’s clearly not as bad as people make out. (despite making almost turning me into some kind of crazy mail stalker).

    So, I guess my “empirically bad” game I love is Driver3
    Other than that, I’ve almost never encountered a terrible game – everything I’ve played has seemed reasonably ok.

  16. Binary77 says:

    For me, it’s gotta be the original Postal. I remember discovering a demo of it when i was about 12 & found it to be a lot of fun. It was only afterwards that i read a really negative review in a magazine that kinda surprised my niave young brain.

    I did eventually get the full game & despite it being pretty repetitive, i still found it to be a lot of fun & seemed genuinely unusual.

    I’ve never played the sequel though. Probably because of the bad reviews…

  17. GameOverMan says:

    Mace Griffin: Bounty Hunter. Too derivative, but I finished it.

  18. Calabi says:

    Splashdown. A silly fun racing game with some great music. One of a few games I’ve played to a hundred percent completion.

    A Myst game. Cant remember which one but it was sort of like stepping into another world.

    Pool Paradise. I dont know, I dont particularly like pool nor am I any good at it but it has a nice atmosphere.

  19. Ephaelon says:

    I really liked The Lost World: Trespasser since it was the first game I’d seen that used physics for some of its puzzles, as well as, containing an interesting “user interface”. It took a bit getting used to but the admittedly unwieldy controls added possibly unintended tension and panic to the game. I also loved the general ambiance, the sense of exploration and discovery and whenever Richard Attenborough’s voiceover would kick in.

    It’s been a while so these are all sugarcoated memories.

  20. Petethegoat says:

    Alone in the Dark, the most recent one. It was in equal parts abysmal and awesome.

    Perhaps not quite equal parts, but it was still very compelling in places, and the writing was hilarious.

  21. sinister agent says:

    Abomination. I loved that game, even though it got more and more broken the longer you played it. I still think that a remake would have tonnes of potential

    I particularly liked the music, the desolate feel of the maps, and the increasing corruption of the city – even your menus become gradually more biological, with the ‘clank’ sound of a button press eventually turning into an unpleasant squelch.

  22. ResonanceCascade says:

    Trespasser. It is not fun to play. I’ll scream at that fucking “arm” game mechanic. I’ll cry at how awful it is to try and climb over crates. I’ll punch my monitor because a physics error caused me to shoot myself with an AK-47. I usually can’t get passed to 4th level due to a game breaking bug. But goddammit, I love the old bastard.

    There’s something charming about a game that’s so committed to its physics system that you can actually jump off a cliff and land on a velociraptor, which will act as a spring and completely break your fall.

    • sinister agent says:

      I played that game years back, and thought it dire (and the “look at the girl’s cleavage to see your health” thing made me cringe). But I’ve since come to appreciate what it did – it just tried it far too early. A very ambitious game.

      I watched a long play of an american bloke with an excellent voice a few years ago. Watched him play the whole game. He gave a history of the game’s development, its features, its ideas, its shortcomings as he played. It was interesting. Had the development not been so catastrophic, even with their overambitious plans, they might have still made it a passable game, and it could have become a real landmark.

  23. Eukatheude says:

    Kane & Lynch 2, and it’s actually one of my favourite games.

  24. noom says:

    Not a PC title, but I’d go with Gauntlet Legends on the N64. Incredibly ropey in so many ways, but my mates and I burnt away many an hour playing it through together. Possibly because nobody was doing co-op in 1998 or whenever that was released…

  25. AgamemnonV2 says:

    This is how I feel whenever someone says, “Hellgate: London? I loved that game!”

  26. Gar says:

    Precursors! It was very difficult to beat this game with all of the bugs and crashing, but I am proud that I was able to finally do so. Had to go with an opposing faction from what I originally wanted fight for though in order to make it to the end, but still had a blast most of the way through :P
    I also plan on getting into Xenus 2 at some point in the future, and I am sure I will love it too.
    Oh, and Clear Sky has always been my favorite of the three S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games, both before and after extensive patches and mods.

    EDIT: Saw that someone else mentioned Gothic 3, and I have to agree and add that one as well. I loved that game, despite it being terribly broken in a few different ways.

  27. Tom Camfield says:

    Not to provoke anyone, but when Morrowind was released on Xbox it was buggy as crap and had tons of technical faults (hence the game receiving a few grades in the sixties) but I still played it to completion.

    The pop up etc didn’t matter to me because it was just a lot of fun.

  28. Jibb Smart says:

    Driv3r. The story was infuriating, but free-roaming just to make cool replays was great, and the survival mode was a lot of fun, as well.

    I never could get over the fact that when rolling out of a moving vehicle the player would roll backwards, though. I was very relieved to play the demo for its sequel and find that the player now rolled in the direction the car was moving when they bail from a vehicle.

  29. StartWars says:

    Hi John, thanks a lot for posting my Driv3r interview with Martin Edmondson! Hope you enjoyed it.

  30. Olivaw says:

    Dynasty Warriors.

    Yep.

    I’m that guy.

  31. StingingVelvet says:

    I’m pretty sure I have “lower standards” than most people when it comes to shooters and RPGs. I can enjoy damn near anything in those two genres as long as it isn’t completely broken.

    A lot of people yell at me like I should feel bad about it, but I think it’s a good thing. More fun for me!

  32. mesamike says:

    SimCopter: It had terrible graphics, ugly and deformed npcs, and repetitive gameplay, yet I played it for hours. I think the Apache that could destroy buildings as well as the sliders that changed the frequency of different events in the city helped. Today I view Just Cause 2 and GTA San Andreas as sort of being the logical progression of what I enjoyed about SimCopter.

    Star Wars The Phantom Menace: There is a bizarre amount of detail in terms of voice acting and secrets that is put into this movie tie-in game that makes up for the simple and clumsy gameplay. It’s kind of like a B-movie. The Tatooine levels are awesome in a proto GTA III kind of way.

    Alpha Protocol: Only the stuttering bugs and performance issues bothered me. I loved the cheesy, Resident Evil quality voice acting, the rapid-fire decision making, the illogical and entropic plot, and the gun and armor upgrades. I hope AP develops enough of a cult following in the future to get a sequel, hopefully with all the campiness and none of the bugs.

  33. metalangel says:

    John, John, John. You have to remember that Eurogamer has seen a shocking increase in the population of mental defectives in the comments threads in the last year or two.

    (obviously I’m not among them. Obviously. Really. Gibber.)

    • Marijn says:

      Right. To reply to the actual article: I’m amazed by the fact that you were so amazed. Do you know how many fans the second Transformers film has? Or Bad Boys 2 (shudder)? Or (as another commenter says) what the actual opinions of some Daily Mail readers are?

      If there’s one thing that will never surprise me, it’s some stranger’s opinion about something.

  34. Marijn says:

    Did the first Shadowman ever come to PC? On N64 and Dreamcast it got good reviews, but I played (and finished, and absolutely loved) the completely broken PS1 version. Such a great, disturbing atmosphere, which was actually enhanced by the batshit crazy things the engine got up to.
    Alternatively: the Drakengard series. Ugly, repetitive, but some of the best (and certainly most depressing) stories I’ve come across in any game.

  35. Gadriel says:

    Silent Storm is mine. I know it’s kind of an obscure cult favourite, but it’s generally considered to be shit. I loved it. It had problems and it probably wasn’t as good as the classics of the tactics genre but so much of it felt right. Combat was extremely satisfying, whether it was blasting through a wall with a panzerfaust and filling the room beyond with bullets or nailing that distant headshot that sent some poor mook cartwheeling off of a balcony.

    The only thing that really genuinely bothered me about it was how dodgy the sight and detection stuff was. There were lots of times where your dudes wouldn’t spot an enemy that was in plain sight in a well-lit room for no apparent reason. There were also plenty of times when the AI would somehow see your well-hidden dudes from across the area at night. Other than those annoying moments, I felt the game was solid and a great deal of fun.

  36. Synesthesia says:

    Theres a lot of jewels in the ps1 library to answer that question… i remember liking one called T.R.A.G.
    It was a terrible resident evil clone with japanese characters, but i kinda liked it. Never finished it, though. Robot girl always died on me near the end.

  37. ElvisMZ says:

    The first Call of Juarez; it had some very weird game mechanics and some obvious flaws like first person platforming. Yet it has so much memorable moments that I can look past that and still enjoy playing it.

  38. greenestbanana says:

    I’ll always be fond of games that have lush, open worlds, even if the actual gameplay sucks. So I’ve been enjoying Test Drive Unlimited 2 lately, even though the driving isn’t great. Really, it’s not a game that needs a Gran Turismo-style driving school like it has. Especially since the races are universally extremely easy. Regardless, the game’s islands look great, and have a lot of places to explore, so I keep coming back.

    It’s a similar situation with Fuel, which I played way more than anyone probably should. If they could have just grafted a fun racing game on that world, it’d have been wonderful…

    So, of course, when a game with a lush, open world comes along that is also actually fun, like Just Cause 2, I’m pretty happy.

  39. stahlwerk says:

    Rebel Assault
    Rebel Assault 2
    I regret nothing.

  40. T_L_T says:

    I think I’m the only person in the world who really enjoyed Duke Nukem Forever right to completion!

    I mean its flawed and feels like and older FPS, but compared to the modern shooting galleries of MW, it reminded me of how good FPS used to be…

    I also remember when this was all fields you know…

  41. Hydrogene says:

    Hidden and Dangerous
    It was very buggy, control was bad and clumsy, the AI could see through the deep fog and kill you from miles away, but I loved it to bits !
    I just loved the “realism” in the game, where one bullet could kill you, and the fact that it wasn’t a standard run&gun shooter and you had to plan the actions of your team. H&D2 corrected most of the flaws of the first one, and I loved it too!

  42. Ham Solo says:

    I just remembered;
    I had fun playing through Doom 3 coop with a friend.

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