True Crime: New York City
As Damning Insults go, sub-GTA is hardly a very big one. But to get across how sub-GTA True Crime: NYC is - and especially the PC version - you'd need a metaphor well beyond the capabilities of modern poetry. To summarise, you're a multimurdering thug turned cop, out to avenge the death of his partner. You do this by taking cars off people. It doesn't look amazing - but the reproduction of NYC is familiar enough to make me want to stop the car and find that shop that sold me a shit digital camera in 1999.
For review, True Crime: NYC can be split into three parts. First, there's the five minute pre-game set-up, recounting your days as a street thug. This introduces you to the game's enduring themes: shaky frame-rates, awkwardly ported controls and embarrassing dialogue. It's staggering that a game that looks this average - a patch of flowers in Central Park looks like a purple and green chessboard - could be so demanding. What's all that processor power doing? Every person dies in the exact same way, for Christ's sake. It's not like we're dealing with physics here. What's more, with occasional dips to eight frames-per-second, we're barely dealing with animation. As for the controls, you can either aim with the unresponsive mouse controls or press Shift-F to automatic aim, shoot and kill. Up to you, really. Frustration or funless is the choice.
The second part of the game is your tutorial, where you're coaxed by the prompts to come off your mouse and use the keypad. Then, with both hands typing, you realise how utterly shoddy the port is - the only difference between Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing and True Crime: NYC is that Mavis comes across as a believable character.
Good Cop, Bad Cop
Then there's the third part, the game itself, which is so unspectacular as to barely warrant comment. No effort at all has been put into it, beyond 'making it work, just'. The good-cop-bad-cop system is fine, but '+7 Bad' coming from your head is ridiculously artificial. If you absolutely must play this game, and the wretched commercial system that chugged out this idiot child hasn't put you off the whole sorry shebang, then get a console version. Please don't buy this.
Download True Crime: New York City
True Crime: New York City is what you'd call inspired. There's a large, free roaming city rife with interaction, cars calling to be driven, on-foot action deep within the seedy criminal underworld, a slew of adult themed material, a few favorite four-lettered words' well, I'm sure you've conjured up an image in your head.
Yes, the parallels between the Grand Theft Auto series and True Crime: New York City are pretty obvious, but where Grand Theft Auto excels, True Crime: New York City mostly fails. The driving portions, for example, just aren't much fun and the blame can be placed pretty exclusively on the sluggish controls. Sleek, sexy sports cars shouldn't drive like a dump truck, and likewise, when you're driving that sleek little car, nudging another car shouldn't drop your speed to zero. In addition, the flat landscapes of New York just aren't all that fun to drive around since there's no variation in geography; no big jumps means monotony sets in far too soon while driving.
On foot, things fare a bit better since the manual targeting system is sharp enough to leave you with few frustrations and plenty of dead bodies in your wake -- it's just a shame that so much of the body county is racked up due to the brain dead AI that'll have enemies casually standing around during fire fights.
The mostly on foot missions are interesting enough, if not for the aforementioned faults. Most of them play out as elaborate shoot outs that lead to a boss character of sorts. That may sound a bit monotonous, but the many side missions throughout the game, where you'll be doing all the standard cop routines with a certain flare, help break all that up. Plus, the progression setup in the game, allowing you to play out the role of a cop in a stand-up or dastardly manner, makes working through the game compelling in spite of the game's many problems.
And, if nothing else, at least the game looks pretty most of the time. Like True Crime: Streets of L.A., True Crime: New York City re-creates the entirety of New York, down to the most minute detail. It's a neat and ambitious aspect of the title, but it does seem to hamper down the framerate quite a bit even with the heavy doses of pop-up that occur throughout the title.
True Crime: New York City is entertaining throughout, but rarely exceptional. If you have a hankerin' for cleanin' up the mean streets of New York, then have at it; there's plenty to see and do throughout the title. It's no Grand Theft Auto, though, and if you're expecting as much, you're in for disappointment on a grand scale.