Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
I gave Driv3r, as they so cleverly called it, 23% in PC Gamer. Because it made a joke work.
“They replace their Es with 3s, we give 23s with ease,” read the review’s strapline, and remains one of my favourite things I’ve written. Because I’m a big doofus. 24 wouldn’t have worked. Scores are stupid.
Driver 3, as grown ups call it, was a spectacularly terrible game. And putting aside the (entirely false, as it happens – I looked into it) accusations of bribery surrounding one review, was widely and deservedly panned. This was an attempt to take the driving franchise into the realm of GTA, and as such, er, not really be about driving.
One of my favourite things was the very first level: you were supposed to drive to some cop thing, but if you chose to go elsewhere in its ‘open city’, you basically turned up before the director had said “action”. The city is entirely free of other cars, the sun fixed low on the horizon, creating the spooky feeling of a ghost town at dawn. And yet there are occasional pedestrians in some areas, who, amazingly, haven’t had their AI switched on yet. Meaning you could drive into them and they’d not only not mind, but also not be able to die.
The game only gradually got worse from this point onward, which was all the more amazing when you remember it was released on console in the same broken, unfinished state the previous year. Extraordinarily, a desperately flailing Atari had simply ported across the project all bugs and incomplete features intact. But if you played it, you’ll sure have memories of it.