Written by Charlie Sinhaseni on 12/2/2003 for Xbox  
More On: Drake
Emile Durkheim had a theory about deviance; he stated that deviance is an integral part of our society because it allows for social change while giving us a barometer of what’s good and bad. Translated into today’s video games, crappy games are a necessary part of the industry because they allow us to fully appreciate what we have. Just how bad is Drake? Well let’s say it makes me appreciate the gaming masterpiece that was Superman 64.

I’ve played plenty of bad games in my time and I thought I had seen the bottom of the barrel. Trudging through endless 989 Sports debacle after endless 989 Sports debacle has toughened me for the worst in video gaming, but nothing prepared me for Idol FX’s Drake of the 99 Dragons. This game had the potential to be really bad-ass but instead it’s ass, just plain ass. Love games where you’re losing health without even knowing it? Love shoddy cameras that get lost in tight areas? Like to look at uninspired characters and pre-rendered cinemas that look worse that most of today’s engine-rendered graphics? Then you just might be a candidate for Drake, the worst game to come out this year and quite possibly the worst game to come out in this millennium.

Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to like Drake especially after all of the neat marketing props that the guys at Majesco spewed out. From the start it was apparent that the guys at Idol FX were going all out with this one, even going so far as to make up a comic to coincide with the game’s storyline. It’s just that the ideas don’t really pan out in the scheme of things. It actually has some pretty neat gimmicks sprinkled within it but the gameplay is so horrid that it brings down the entire package. Games are supposed to be fun and leave us satisfied and happy, not piss us off and instill hostile tendencies within us. Forget about Grand Theft Auto, Drake is ten times more likely to set me on a rampage. With its shoddy visuals, broken gameplay, horrid controls and “I’d rather watch paint dry than be succumbed to this flaming turd” mission structure, it’s not hard to see why.

There’s a paper thin storyline that’s as lame and impractical as the rest of the game, so at least it sets the tone for what you can expect. You’ll assume the role of Drake, a member of the Hong Kong-based 99 Dragons. When the game begins the entire clan is murdered and its priceless artifact has been stolen. In a manner that isn’t clearly explained, Drake is brought back to life by some higher beings. Afterwards it’s up to him avenge the death of his clan while retrieving the stolen artifact. Now you have to ask yourself, what kind of pansy-ass clan of assassins gets wiped out this easily? And why would you want to be a part of said pansy-ass clan? If the storyline wasn’t bad enough you’re forced to succumb to the game’s broken and uninspired gameplay as well.

Basically the game consists of wandering into one blind ambush after one blind ambush. Walk through a door, get shot about 50 times, witness absolutely no signs that you’ve been shot, watch the camera try to follow the Drake like a heffer at an all-you-can eat buffet and you have an idea of what it’s like to play this game. Repeat this scenario about 50 times, add the words “Game Over” to the middle of the screen and you’ve now saved yourself 40 bucks that could have been spent on something more worthy. Hell, you’d be better off buying that new Britney Spears CD, sure the content is filth but at least you’ve got a picture of a hot babe to look at.This was supposed to be John Woo meets Batman but the dual-gun action just never lives up to its billing. Maybe it’s because the weapons are so dull or because they’re surprisingly underpowered, but the guns are so weak and lame that you’d be better off with pellet guns. We can’t fault the premise because the dual gun system is actually a pretty sweet idea. You can hold different weapons in each hand so if you want some firepower to go along with your blanket coverage you might put the shotgun in your left hand and the Uzi in the right hand. This is probably the best portion of the game but it’s rather ineffective because the weapons are just so lame and underwhelming. None of them are really all that impressive nor are they fun to use. When it comes down to it you’ll still be running around blindly in circles while tapping both of the triggers until your enemies stop firing at you, no matter which weapons you’re using.

What’s really frustrating about Drake is that the game rarely displays any animations or indicators to show that you’re being hit. All of the game’s combat consists of you running around and holding down the L and R triggers until either everyone stops shooting at you or until you die. There are some massive problems with the auto-aim system and the manual target system is unserviceable because the game lacks a visible targeting cursor. To further complicate matters the camera is insanely erratic and has some major troubles when it comes to keeping up with the action. It becomes puzzled by nearly every single obstacle including pillars, walls, enemies and sometimes even Drake himself.

As if that weren’t bad enough you’ll have to deal with the inane auto aim, which is lamer than your one-legged high school prom date. It has the tendency to become confused too easily, forcing your guy to fire to his extreme left or right for no apparent reason. Your only means of resolve comes from having to manually move the camera so that his aim is in front of him. In the process you’ll move the viewpoint, forcing you to look at Drake’s extreme left as his guns finally point forward. Firing the weapons while jumping around in circles (the solution to nearly every problem in Drake) will solve the problem at times as well.

To add more spice to the gameplay Drake can do perform a number of Matrix-esque moves, none of which are particularly well done. He has the ability to run up walls, double jump, slow down time or stop time entirely. The wall run is pretty lame as it doesn’t really bring anything to the table. In fact, it serves as a major hindrance because it’ll inadvertently activate itself when you’re trying to make difficult leaps. There’s a quasi-bullet time element in the game but it’s implemented rather poorly because it offers you no distinct advantage. Stopping time allows you to get a better view on the action but it doesn’t do a particularly good job of expanding or adding to the gameplay. When it comes down to it these elements just add more to the game's already broken gameplay, making it even more cumbersome.

Remember when you were in High School and how your eyes would wander around the room as your teacher lectured your class about pointless things like physics and calculus? Remember how you’d usually find something interesting to look at, like a calendar, an etching on a desk or an intriguing poster on the wall? The point I’m trying to make here is that no matter the circumstances you’re always bound to find something visually appealing to transfix your gaze upon. That’s the same principal that applies to Drake’s cel-shaded visuals. For sure there are a few interesting things to look at, but the entire package is just a horrible mishmash of ugly and uninspired visuals that look like they were made for the PSOne. Seriously, it’s awful, God-awful. I’ve never seen such horrible visuals in a next-generation game. It took me a good three or four hours to find out that a few of the game’s levels took place outdoors. Why? Because there’s absolutely nothing to insinuate that the environments are outdoors as opposed to outdoors. The architecture, design, texture work, look and feel of the outdoor and indoor environments is exactly the same. It’s awful, just simply awful.Oh and let’s talk about the character design. Here’s an idea of what to expect, find yourself a piece of paper and hand it to your five-year-old niece. Give her a pencil and tell her to draw a picture of a big “meanie-head.” After about 10 seconds take the paper, spill some water on it so that it’s a little blurry and you have the character design of Drake. Even the game’s namesake looks like an insipid pile of rubbish. Some minor visual touches give the game its comic book style and panache but the end result is pretty weak and flat. Most of the time you’ll see enemies die but the lack of aural fanfare really makes their deaths lackadaisical and uneventful.

Even the pre-rendered CGI cutscenes are awful. What the hell were these guys thinking? I’ve seen better cutscenes on the PlayStation One. Hell, I’ve seen better engine-rendered graphics than these horrid cutscenes. What’s really funny though is that the game’s fogging problems translate over to the cutscenes, leading me to believe that the artists just rendered the cutscenes with the engine and then compressed it to make it look like it was pre-rendered.

As if the visuals and gameplay didn’t stink up the joint enough leave it up to the audio to put the cherry on this mound of filth. When we’ve got machine guns that sound like nails tapping on a desk who needs gameplay? It doesn’t help matters that our supposed badass sounds like the narrator on those cheap collect call commercials. His voice is totally wrong for this type of gaming and the delivery of his lines are just awkward and off-kilter. All of the audio, and I mean all of it, is just god-awful and will have you turning down the volume to save the little bit of sanity that you have left.

The most redeeming element of Drake? It’s mercifully short. After trudging through endless mess of a level after endless mess of a level I was becoming worried that the guys at Idol FX had an adventure of epic proportions planned for the poor saps who happened to buy this game. Luckily I was able to plow through it in a couple of long, painful, Godless, awful nights.

And that’s just it; Majesco’s Drake can be summed up in one word, awful. This is the worst game that you can possibly buy for your Xbox, the worst game you could possibly buy for a next generation console and quite possibly the worst game to have come out in the past five years. There’s a bright side though, at least it’s a great stocking stuffer for that nephew who acts like a little brat at all the Christmas gatherings. What better way to put him into his place than to build up his excitement by letting him know you bought him a game and then shattering his hopes and dreams with this steaming mess?
Like insanely crappy games? Then you'll love Drake. It's not fun, it's not entertaining and it's definitely not pretty. There are some decent ideas here but it's probably one of the worst games that we've ever played.

Rating: 1.8 Horrible

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

About Author

Gaming has been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. I can still recall many a lost nights spent playing Gyromite with that stupid robot contraption for the old NES. While I'm not as old as the rest of the crew around these parts, I still have a solid understanding of the heritage and the history of the video gaming industry.

It's funny, when I see other people reference games like Doom as "old-school" I almost begin to cringe. I bet that half of these supposed "old-school" gamers don't even remember classic games like Rise of the Triad and Commander Keen. How about Halloween Harry? Does anyone even remember the term "shareware" anymore? If you want to know "old-school" just talk to John. He'll tell you all about his favorite Atari game, Custer's Revenge.

It's okay though, ignorance is bliss and what the kids don't know won't hurt them. I'll just simply smile and nod the next time someone tells me that the best entry in the Final Fantasy franchise was Final Fantasy VII.

When I'm not playing games I'm usually busy sleeping through classes at a boring college in Southern Oregon. My current hobbies are: writing songs for punk rock bands that never quite make it, and teasing Bart about... well just teasing Bart in general. I swear the material writes itself when you're around this guy. He gives new meaning to the term "moving punching bag."

As for games, I enjoy all types except those long-winded turn-based strategy games. I send those games to my good pal Tyler, I hear he has a thing for those games that none of us actually have the time to play.

When I'm not busy plowing through a massive pile of video games I spend all of my time trying to keep my cute little girl fed. She eats a ton but damn she's so hot. Does anyone understand the Asian girl weight principal? Like they'll clean out your fridge yet still weigh less than 110 pounds.

Currently I'm playing: THUG, True Crime, Prince of Persia, Project Gotham 2 and Beyond Good & Evil. View Profile

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