True Crime: Streets of LA
When a business deal between the Russian mafia and the Triad goes sour, you just know the s***'s gonna hit the fan. That's where officer Nick Kang comes in. Nick's gonna clean up the streets of L.A. using all his driving, shootin' and martial-arts fighting skills. Familiar? It should be. "The story is based on some of our favorite action movies including Hard Boiled, Rush Hour, L.A. Confidential and the Lethal Weapon series," says Activision producer Bryan Bustamante. "We wanted to create a real cinematic feel to the game." But this isn't just a huge area that's mildly reminiscent of Los Angeles. An entire section of the city of angels will be re-created faithfully within the world of True Crime, right down to street signs, billboards and major landmarks.
Of course, True Crime will be a free-roaming game, but with much more emphasis on gunplay and hand-to-hand combat than driving. Imagine chasing down a perp, only to have him negotiate a turn incorrectly and flip the car. He crawls from the wreckage and takes off on foot through a crowd. Now you've got to ditch your ride and give chase. He ducks into a seedy bar, thinking he's lost you. The fool. You burst through the door, guns blazing. Or, if you're feeling more humane, you can take him hand-to-hand. In that case, the bar turns into your own little fighting arena (check the picture above). "In True Crime you have a series of block, parry and combo moves," says Bustamante. "As the game progresses, you can visit a number of Dojos located around the city and learn new combo and finishing moves to send your opponents flying." We're sure it'll be no Soul Calibur 2, but the fighting system sounds pretty robust for a game of this type.
We all knew Grand Theft Auto III would spawn a lot of similar games, but it's nice to see titles like True Crime taking a stab at something unique within the genre.
Download True Crime: Streets of LA
As the attack of the GTA clones continues, True Crime sets itself apart by staying on the good side of the law (you're a cop) and taking place in a real town (Los Angeles). The sprawling environments that you'll patrol as resident-tough-guy-with-a-badge Nick Kang are bull's-eye representations of L.A., to the point where I can cruise around and instantly recognize my old stomping grounds. And while you're treated to only four different types of missions (driving, shooting, stealth, and hand-to-hand combat), the character-upgrade system helps keep the gameplay fresh throughout. Still, True Crime fails to offer GTA-quality thrills. Its so-so, styleless graphics fail to impress, and the whole thing's too short and easy. Instead of requiring a tough 40 hours to finish (like Vice City), it will take only the weekend to see all three endings and complete all of the training sessions. And what's with the story? It takes a downright puzzling and pointless detour straight outta Big Trouble in Little China--who knew SoCal was home to dragons? Ultimately, True Crime is a passable first effort, but hopefully, the inevitable sequel will be meatier.
True Crime isn't just some wannabe cash-in--it takes the general idea behind Grand Theft Auto and builds something truly original around it. It feels like the evolution of the genre in a lot of ways, not least of all graphically. This game's nice, detailed characters and cars put Vice City's to shame, and the city is freakin' huge. My favorite thing about True Crime, though, is the sheer variety of missions you tackle during the story. Sometimes you're tailing a suspect, other times you're sneaking around warehouses Metal Gear-style, engaging in massive shoot-outs a la Max Payne, or laying the smack down with a little fisticuffs. And the best part is, no matter what part of the game you're in, it controls wonderfully. Overall, this is one incredibly polished game.
I hope someone someday makes a game based on a normal cop with below-average marksmanship, a marginal work ethic, and a family of four. At least it would be original. True Crime's Nick is the last straw--I can't take another rogue cop whose unorthodox methods somehow get i the job done. A slew of short, uninspired mis- M sions conjure all the latest trends in gaming--feels like a diluted, arcadey version of GTA3. If your ADD is flaring up, you'll be in heaven with the flip-flopping styles. But the increased variety means an irksome drop in gameplay quality. It has its moments, but True Crime also has that empty feeling that comes from being nurtured by a marketing meeting rather than a developer's vision. Max Payne and Crazy Taxi resurface in what
L.A.: The City of Demons
Activision and developer Luxoflux must have connections within Los Angeles' seedy underground. How else would they know that firebreathing dragons, hovering demon heads, and 342-year-old Chinese men inhabit the city. Simply complete episode six and you can check it out for yourself. And you know it's gotta be real, right? Why else would they call the game True Crime?
True Crime is clearly out to carjack Rockstar's big-money bandwagons Max Payne and Grand Theft Auto.
HOW WAS IT?
The true crime here might be copyright infringement. Hardboiled cop Nick Kang's freeform shooting spree could just as easily be set in any of the GTA series's crime capitals. But considering America's new addiction to bloodletting, that's not such a bad thing. And Kang's kung fu and ballistic ballet could give his game a needed lead on Rockstar's crooks.
Any game that's voiced by Christopher Walken, features 50 rap and heavy metal songs and sneaks in a playable Snoop Dogg has got to be oozing with cool. Not only is True Crime: Streets of LA truly hip, it's a blast to play, managing to blend the cinematic feel of an immersive movie with some of the best elements of shooting, driving and fighting games.
It's simplest to say True Crime is Grand Theft Auto or The Getaway from a cop's perspective, but such sweeping statements does little to garner the praise this game deserves. Sure the plot is a bit old hat and the one-liners and dialogue are clichés at their worst - but the game's the thing and it more than makes up for anything else you could find to complain about.
True Crime is a very open ended game built on three types of play: driving, fighting and shooting. The driving mode puts you behind the wheel of a unmarked, but you can hop out and commandeer any car you see on the street. The driving physics are well developed, putting just the right amount of bounce and squeal in the game to make it fun with out making it too unrealistic or hard to control. You can peel out, turn on a siren, honk the horn, fire shots at passing motorists or even dive and roll from the car.
Although the fighting is a little limited, it still has enough variety to remain interesting and fun at times. You can throw off a flurry of punches, low and high kicks and throws with the four buttons. The good stuff happens, though, when you stun your opponent and launch a combo or special attack like Monkey Kick. It's a blast to watch the bad guy fly across the room in slow-mo or get flipped into spectacular unconsciousness.
The shooting mode lets you blaze away at bad guys with two guns or switch to precision mode, which slows the world down to bullet time and lets you aim for a particular spot. Although you will spend a lot of time cruising around LA in a car, you can also choose to hoof it. This allows you to randomly roust the citizenry with illegal pat downs or even pop a couple of them in the head with a fist or bullet. Of course the more people you kill or pat down the more the game's civil unrest grows. What this means is that if you go on a killing spree SWAT will be coming for you and they will win.
The game has a pretty linear plot, sending you scuttling from one shootout to the next looking for clues to some generic big, bad crime, but you don't have to follow it. Drive around in your car long enough and crime will happen, this is LA after all, and if you want you can try and stop it. The crimes seem to run in a pretty tight circle, theft, domestic violence, murder, disgruntled postal employee - but real crime is like that too, it's the details that really make each one different.
Although the game allows you to do whatever you want there is a karma system that determines whether you are a good cop or a bad one. Solve a crime and arrest someone and you're a good cop; shoot a thief in the head and you're a bad one. The more crimes you solve, the more shields you earn. You can then use those shields to try and complete tasks to upgrade some of your driving, shooting and fighting skills. It's a pretty cool system and added to the open ended city, 250 square miles of prime digitized LA streets, gives the game quite a long shelf life.
True Crime: Streets of LA is the type of game you explore, not beat. It's a world of brawling bad guys, cops who are at times a little too rogue and Christopher Walken saying things like: Is that your only set of clothes? It's a place you would never want to live but will love visiting on your PS2.