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?