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Score: 4.7 / 10
Get ready for this [BLEEP]ing review
because it’s going to blow your [BLEEP]ing [BLEEP] mind!
Okay, so it won’t.
I’m positive that NARC isn’t a remake or a sequel to the 1988 arcade
game of the same name because the two have nothing in common other than
a concentration on drugs. Gone is the Technicolor side-scrolling,
over-the-top carnage. It’s replaced
with a gritty, depressing 3D world filled
with drug dealers and crooked cops, which leans toward a certain level
of “realism” and takes a lot of cues from the Grand Theft Auto
franchise. While it’s actually enjoyable in short sittings, NARC loses
any momentum after about 30 minutes and never regains it. But I’ll give
Point of View and Midway credit for trying something a little different.
NARC retails for $20US
at “Friend” prices and delivers more than you might expect out of a budg—
sorry, Friend price title.
The story initially puts you in control of Jack Forzenski a recovering
addict and cop brought in to track down the source of a new and powerful
drug which apparently is so powerful it can bring people back from the
brink of death. Along for the ride is his ex-partner, Marcus Hill, who
sees Jack as weak for giving into drugs all those years ago. You’ll play
as both characters along the way.
NARC’s best feature is an addiction system, which can really affect how
the action plays out. Everywhere you turn in NARC’s little world there
are drugs to be found or confiscated. Each drug has a different affect
when used. Taking speed increases the speed of your attacks and makes
you run faster; drop LSD and the bad guys all grow devils horns that
make them easy to spot. (These drugs can also be sold for cash – some
missions require it.) The real danger to popping these drugs is that if
they’re used enough Jack or Marcus will become addicted. This brings up
an addiction meter which is kept low by consuming more of the drugs but
if it fills you have to “fight the addiction” that involves keeping a
slider in the green. Succeed and the addiction is broken; fail and wind
up like so many game journalists at E3 – waking up across town with
absolutely nothing in your pants pockets (if you’re wearing pants at
all). Fortunately if you fail to beat the addiction three times it’s
determined you went cold turkey. (A natural extension of the addiction
concept is the Mario games – “I need somah ‘shrooms!”)
NARC also features the ability to gamble and “bust” just about everyone
you see. Warranted or not you can randomly tackle and cuff anyone. But
doing bad things to nice people will affect your badge rating. If the
rating falls below a certain level you’ll get demoted to beat cop and
you’re forced to build your rating up to be re-assigned to the NARC
squad so you can access missions again. If it falls even further, cops
will spawn everywhere, guns loaded with bullets with your name on all of
them. (I like to call it “The Scarface Ending.) However, the badge
ratings are moot since it’s very easy to climb back from the depths and
get back on the NARC squad.
The controls are clunky at the best of times, particularly when it comes
to managing the inventory of drugs and guns. It’s haphazard as you’ll
wind up using drugs when you actually meant to switch to a weapon. The
sound is split down the middle between horrid and buggy to good. As far
as soundtracks go, NARC is excellent, with a perfect harmony struck
between the subject matter and the action. But when it comes to the
overall sound design… yuck. Sound effects often kick in for no
discernable reason and the amount of profanity is excessive, even for
me. If I ever hear “Get the [BLEEP] down!” one more time I might scream.
The graphics aren’t that great either. Everything looks very similar
(even the people) with very few landmarks to differentiate areas. It’s
very easy to get lost or wind up going around in circles. That situation
is somewhat alleviated by the mini-map, which marks objectives clearly
but NARC’s world just isn’t interesting.
Something that might be of interest for those that don’t own Midway
Arcade Treasures Volume 2, is that the original game is unlockable. By
itself, it’s not a great reason to buy NARC. But I can’t really think of
another solid reason to buy the game, even at a $20US price tag.