Driver 3 is a game that offers all its joy when you don't follow the mission markers. Follow them and its hideous, hollow ways surround you like the ghost of a car wreck, haunting your gaming soul. The missions are either about driving to or from a place or shooting some mans until you drive to or from a place. Each half offers its own laughable controls, impressively managing to make the on-foot sections even more abysmal than the car handling.
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. The animations are genuinely amusing, best enjoyed during the in-game cutscenes when you can see the robotic walk-dance performed at its finest.
Missions are hilariously unfair, the deranged AI constantly cheating, instructions impossibly vague, and obviously there are no useful checkpoints. An absolute favourite has to be the PC exclusive level where you're instructed to "KILL TICO", but if you try to do so at any point before the very end you instantly lose. He's in a boat, you're on a bike, and you're chasing him. So jump into a boat on the shore, right? Wrong, you lose. Get far enough ahead and shoot him from a bridge over the river then? You idiot, he's indestructible! You were meant to keep sliding around on the impossibike until you reached a point that triggers a cutscene, without trying to kill him at all! How they could have kept this level from the Xbox and PS2 players is criminally selfish.
So don't do that. Don't follow the voice-over that appears from nowhere after the first mission is over and picks up a story he didn't start. In fact, before things get properly juicy, don't follow the instructions of the very first mission.
Because during your first trip to the police station, presumably on your way to work (the game forgets to tell you who you are, what you do, etc), the game world hasn't quite woken up. Here you can massacre civilians without punishment, launching yourself into a murderous frenzy. And why wouldn't you enjoy an early morning rampage around the city when all the women are walking around in their underwear? Knickers and a vest - that's what the modern cuboid zombie lady likes to wear.
Finish the assigned task and now things really hot up. This is when your errant actions on the streets entice the attention of those crazy coppers and their Keystone antics. And it never disappoints.
Getting run over is always great. Sometimes you'll slide along the road under the bumper of the car, lying comfortably on a journey that can only be ended by the AI driver suicidally launching himself into a lamppost. Other times you'll get stuck inside the car's bonnet, your torso poking through the top as you glide along. Eventually you'll pop out and find yourself standing on the roof of the car, just like in life.
And it just keeps on giving - if you understand giving to be when someone kicks you hard in the face and then offers you the shoe. A game where you can complete a mission, and then get killed by an explosion within the following cutscene is something very special indeed.
Clearly no one should have ever spent money on Driver 3. But if you ever see a copy languishing in a bin or hiding behind a china teapot in the shape of a country cottage in a charity shop, I implore you to pick it up. I'm so happy I still have the review copy I was sent when it first came out, and I'll treasure it always. Absolutely one of the worst games of all time, and one everyone should have in their collection.