"Cops and Robbers" or "Cowboys and Indians" -- the childhood games that this game is founded on -- are still fun after all of these years. Even though it's dressed up with an angry gangster theme, it's still the imaginary childhood game we played so long ago without computers. Chasing others, or being chased, is great fun, even if everything around it is flawed.
When you get a good group in APB, it's really fun driving around in your van/car, completing objectives, keeping an eye out for opposition. Because the play area is quite large, you never know where your opponents are going to come from. Last night, during the event, we completely surprised a group of criminals by driving a car off a freeway, over a building, and down towards our goal -- right over the heads of the criminals defending it.
"Every game has its quirks, and none of them is perfect, even the "gold standard" that is World of Warcraft."
This is how fun shines through
So, a game can be bad but can still be fun as long as you really enjoy the core of what the game has to offer, or can look past the flaws to find your own fun.
I think a game like Darkfall fits perfectly into this category (although the more recent expansions to the game are clearing up many of the problems I initially had with its design, so many props there) as there were many subsidiary things about the game that ruined it for me, even though I really enjoyed the city siege and small-skirmish warfare.
Champions would be somewhere in here too, as the range of powers and customization was fun, especially when it was paired with a good, active supergroup. Although, I must say, variety does not truly make up for the railroaded gameplay in Champions.
In fact, many of the games we play have been flawed for years. Every game has its quirks, and none of them is perfect, even the "gold standard" that is World of Warcraft. Even though a reviewer may not agree with you, it doesn't mean the game can't be fun. Heck, I've even stuck with games that I have not given good reviews. I played The Matrix Online and Phantasy Star Online for years, and I can certainly say that they weren't the cream of the crop.
And, finally, our games change over time. What was a bad game now may not be a bad game down the road a few patches. Age of Conan has come a long way with its development, Global Agenda is rapidly re-creating its game from the ground up, and, with hope, APB might do the same thing.
I think the moral of the story here is that reviews are not the end-all-be-all. They're more like referrals, or tools in your gaming arsenal to understand what a game is like. They will never, ever trump playing the game for yourself though, so always try to find a demo or a trial if you're unsure of your purchase.
And sometimes, just sometimes, there's still something fun in a game, even when everything else goes wrong.
Seraphina Brennan is the weekly writer of Anti-Aliased who has odd tastes and knows it. When she's not writing here for Massively, she's rambling on her personal blog, The Experience Curve. If you want to message her, send her an e-mail at seraphina AT massively DOT com. You can also follow her on Twitter through Massively, or through her personal feed, @sera_brennan.