Starsky & Hutch
|a game by||Spellbound Interactive, and Minds Eye Productions|
|Platforms:||XBox, PC, Playstation 2, GBA|
|Editor Rating:||6.5/10, based on 1 review, 2 reviews are shown|
|User Rating:||7.3/10 - 9 votes|
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|See also:||Racing Games, Action Adventure Games|
Depressingly, there will be people reading this who weren't even born when Starsky & Hutch was being transmitted to a generation of enraptured youngsters. Suffice to say, it was arguably the most exciting thing on earth, and staying up late to watch it was one of the greatest thrills imaginable. These days of course, anyone with Channel Five can watch the show, which is replete with pimps, hoes, drug dealers and violent shootouts. And while it still has kitsch nostalgic appeal, it's not exactly how we remember it. As a kid, it was all about the car - the mythical Ford Torino aka the Striped Tomato - and it's tempting to remember it as one long action sequence. Watching the programme now, there are episodes where the car barely features, the titular characters more concerned with adopting risible foreign accents and carrying off some ill-advised comic routine.
So why a Starsky & Hutch game in 2003, particularly as the 70s revival is so last decade? Well, Channel Five's admirably tireless revival notwithstanding, a bigger clue is offered by the pending release of an all-new Starsky & Hutch movie, starring comedy duo du jour Ben Stiller and Luke Wilson in the roles made famous by Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul.
The two key actors in the game, however, are voiced by generic dullards. Some authenticity is added by the sterling work of Antonio Fargas, who reprises his role of Huggy Bear, the jiving grass with his finger on the pulse of the street. Fargas provides a competent voice-over, relaying the narrative (such as it is) and is just about worth his fee. To be honest, it's nice to know that he's still earning.
As for the action, it is simply a relentless tyre-squealing festival of automotive destruction, almost exactly like the feverish childhood memories of the show. Split into different seasons, each contains six episodes that typically involve chasing a car, with Starsky driving and Hutch hanging out of the window shooting.
As well as stopping the baddies getting away, you also have to keep viewers interested by performing stunts, not driving into pedestrians, or simply shooting power-ups. Lose the viewers, and it's game over. A curious concept, with the protagonists aware that they're in a TV show, though whether they know they're in a computer game, we'll leave to the philosophers. The shooting doesn't really involve any aiming as such; as long as the car is facing the right way, you should hit the target, enabling you to pick off all manner of power-ups such as extra speed and grip. The only modicum of skill is introduced when shooting the inhabitants of the car you are chasing. If you manage to get close enough, the target will turn red, causing slightly more damage.
The car itself handles pretty much as you'd expect, with unspectacular physics and arcadey controls, which means keeping up with fleeing bad guys is a pretty unchallenging task, and the whole game can be completed in a fairly short amount of time.
And that's about it. (Un)fortunately, we are no longer slack-jawed children (despite occasionally behaving that way), and this kind of unsophisticated approach doesn't really cut it in the current environment. With such buzzwords as 'emergent gameplay' flying about, this is unashamedly old-skool. Largely scripted, repeating sections again and again, it begins to drag, despite the frantic pace.
Graphically, it's no great shakes, showing its console roots, and the PC fraternity have received a further drop-kick in the teeth with the news that the game will not be compatible with light-guns. On the PS2 version, this is arguably a key point, where two of you can play as Starsky and Hutch, one driving and the other shooting. Here you drive and shoot at the same time using the keyboard.
Ultimately, it's hard to see who the game is aimed at in the PC world. Anyone old enough to care about the series probably won't be duped by a simplistic licensed game, and the majority of gamers born in the last two decades will neither know nor care about either the game or show. That said, for a few days of mindless fun, it might just be worth your 30 quid have to keep viewers interested by performing stunts, not driving into pedestrians, or simply shooting power-ups. Lose the viewers, and it's game over. A curious concept, with the protagonists aware that they're in a TV show, though whether they know they're in a computer game, we'll leave to the philosophers. The shooting doesn't really involve any aiming as such; as long as the car is facing the right way, you should hit the target, enabling you to pick off all manner of power-ups such as extra speed and grip. The only modicum of skill is introduced when shooting the inhabitants of the car you are chasing. If you manage to get close enough, the target will turn red, causing slightly more damage.
That's All Folks
The graphics of the main game may look distinctly bland, but a different approach has been taken with the cut-scenes that appear before and after each episode. Employing a comic book style - a bit like Max Payne - it's a nicely stylised approach that successfully captures the late 70s West Coast feel, replete with afro-sporting dudes and bug-eyed hippies, no doubt goofing out on angel dust. Once certain areas of the game are completed, you can go back and watch the clips, turning your PC into some kind of living comic. Throughout the game you can also collect Huggy Bear tokens, enabling you to unlock his biography and even an interview with the great man. Throw in the opportunity to unlock the funky soundtrack, and there's a mild degree of longevity involved, providing you can stomach the utterly simplistic gameplay, that is.
Download Starsky & Hutch
Streetwise Starsky and soft-spoken Hutch, true friends and partners, fight crime their own way over the objections of their tough-as-nails but well-meaning captain. If that sounds trite, it's because Starsky & Hutch (broadcast 1975 to 1979) became the archetype for virtually every TV buddy-cop show since. The game features the loose-cannon cops, the classic red-and-white Ford Gran Torino, pimpish informant Huggy Bear, and a whole lot of mission-based driving and shooting. True to the spirit of the show, Starsky & Hutch encourages vehicular mayhem, fierce gunplay, and teamwork. That's right--two-player cooperative play means one partner can concentrate on driving like a maniac while the other makes the bullets hit the criminals. And yes, support for steering-wheel and light-gun controllers is planned. Man, this is sure looking better than the those old Dukes ofHazzard games...