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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

Activision

 

Developer

Luxoflux

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

Q2 2004

 

 

- Simple gameplay

- Large expansive streets

- Good voice acting

- Multiplayer portion

- Branching storyline

 

 

- Dialogue writing is second rate

- Unpolished feel

- Little challenge

- Repetitive gameplay

- Ported controls are not tight

 

 

Review: True Crime - Streets of LA (XB)

Review: True Crime - Streets of LA (GC)

Review: GTA - Vice City (PC)

 

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True Crime: Streets of L.A.

Score: 6.5 / 10

 

I was so looking forward to playing this game! I remember first reading some previews about it before it was released on consoles, and I remember hoping that they would eventually port it to PC. I was glad that they finally did, however, I probably wouldnít have cared too much if it wasnít ported if I had tried it first on any one of the consoles. For a game that seemed to have so much promise, I must say that I am disappointed. While not a bad game, True Crime just doesnít cut it with the better games of today.

 

true crime pc review          true crime pc review

 

You play as Nick Kang, a maverick cop in LA just coming back from suspension.  You are quickly pulled aside by your chief to be put on special assignment. Generally, the plot is similar to your favorite guilty pleasure action movie. One thing I was impressed with right off the bat was the cast that they had assembled to do the voice acting: Christopher Walken, check, Gary Oldman, check, Michael Madsen, check, Michelle Rodriguez, check, and many others. While these actors are professionals and their delivery is beyond reproach, I didnít like the material they were given to read that much. While the plot developments are fairly straight forward, the slightly over-the-top tongue in cheek lines didnít quite seem to be consistent with the storyline. The running comments by Nick (Russell Wong) do not help this matter at all. While the story is an over the top tale of a one-man army, the cheesy comments seemed to be slightly out of sync. A satirical look at this genre of game and movie would be welcome, but the game canít seem to make up its mind if it wants to be serious or a satire.

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True to its name, the game takes place in the streets of LA. The game is so true to its name in fact, that LAís city streets are mapped out and the environment is quite simply massive. This gives the game a huge feeling of actually being in a city. Additionally, as a credit to the design team, the player never really does feel lost.

 

The gameplay basically has three elements: driving, shooting and fighting. Additionally, in some instances there will be a slight variation on 

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these gameplay modes where you will sneak through an environment, and in others, you will pursue vehicles and shoot them from the comfort of your car. The story is broken up into chapters and in each one there will be a number of episodes Ė each episode is preceded by a cinematic cut scene where the story is moved along. The gameplay in each episode usually combines the aforementioned elements. For instance, in a chapter where Nick is going after the Russian mob for answers, he must first drive to their hideout, then sneak into the building, then fight off some mobsters, and then shoot his way out. While this would seem like a lot of variety, the game basically plays out the same way chapter after chapter; drive, shoot, fight, sneak, drive, shoot, fight. The only somewhat saving grace to this is the free roaming driving episodes.

 

In these episodes, Nick is not in a hurry to drive to his next destination. As such, you are free to explore the environment and solve street crimes. Some street crimes, like muggings, will just happen, and you will see them. You can then simply try and intimidate the mugger into surrendering by showing your badge or firing a shot into the air. Sometimes, they will resist, and you can fight them, or shoot them to have the crime solved. Other more serious crimes will be radioed in from headquarters and you will have the option of responding. Solving these crimes is usually just as simple as having the suspect neutralized or arrested.

 

In addition to completing episodes, solving street crimes earns you points. For every 100 points you earn, you are rewarded with one shield. These can be used at different facilities in order to upgrade your fighting, shooting and driving skills. At these facilities, you will need to complete a test successfully in order to gain a new skill. Completing a chapter successfully can earn you a free cruise episode. In these, you choose your destination on what to play for and earn; a new car, a new weapon, or a new fighting move.

 

The story is not entirely linear either. There are different turns the story can take depending on how you play. As Nick, you can be good cop, or a bad cop. By harming civilians, or by shooting bad guys in the head, you will lean more to being a bad cop. By solving random street crimes and arresting bad guys rather than taking them out, you will earn points towards becoming a good cop. When failing an episode, you also have the choice of moving on without completing the mission. This can also affect the way the story plays out, and the type of subsequent missions you will have to play. Also, after completing all episodes in a chapter, you will always be able to go back and play through the alternative chapters and episodes.

 

true crime pc review          true crime pc review

 

While there is no doubt that True Crime is an ambitious game and that it does offer up a plethora of gameplay, the quality of that gameplay is somewhat lacking. The game does feel decidedly unpolished, as if were a late beta rather than a full retail release. Sometimes if the camera is backed up against and you run backwards while shooting forward at your target, the camera will collapse into Nickís head showing you his eyeballs and teeth through the back of his head in a comically gruesome fashion. While not a fault of the developers, the controls that have been ported to the standard keyboard/mouse combination also feel a little off. The camera that follows Nick when he is shooting and fighting is not crisp. It seems to lag a second behind the movement of the mouse, giving it more the feel of a camera meant for the second analog stick of a gamepad.

 

The fighting portion of the game must also have one of the poorest fighting dynamics ever. Basically, any fight can be won by racking on the buttons in a random combination. There are moves that can be performed while your opponent is dazed, however, these do not make up for the shoddy fighting system in place. The driving is very simple but does have some challenge to it. The handling of different cars is quite different and pursuing a target in a slow van is much more difficult than in a sports car. The shooting portion however, is also quite average. Different guns have a little bit more power but the poor sounds of different weapons literally steals their thunder. It leaves you feeling like you are shooting peashooters with variable firing rates. Out of all the gameplay types, the shooting is the most challenging. The difficulty is due to the speed of your bullets as they lag just a bit behind moving targets, forcing you to lead your shot. Also, the crosshair is very precise, which makes moving and shooting more difficult. You also have the ability to take cover and to do slow motion dives. However, in the end, it can in no way compare to the gun play in Dead to Rights, much less Max Payne.

 

While this seemingly simple gameplay will be welcomed by the pick up and play gamer, it provides little challenge for those looking for something more than a well-acted interactive action movie. The graphics are serviceable, and the soundtrack is a curious mix of hard rock, and rap likely designed to appeal to its teen target audience. The comments thrown in by Nick can be annoying, and in a way seem slightly out of character for a hardened cop.

 

There is also a multiplayer portion, and many secrets in the game that are designed to prolong its replayability.

 

True Crime: Streets of L.A. overall is a fairly enjoyable game just because it is endearing in the same way that a bad summer action movie is. While I canít really recommend it over other games, I know that those of you who love this kind of game wonít be able to resist getting it and playing through it anyway (just in the way Iíve never been able to resist seeing the latest Schwarnegger film).

 

- Mark Leung

(June 27, 2004)

 

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