True Crime: Streets of LA
Genre: Action Adventure
Platform: Xbox (Also available on PS2 & Gamecube)
Release: November 2003
Prior to its release, True Crime: Streets of LA had been one of the most buzzworthy games in the minds of industry insiders and gamers alike. Some were calling it the next Grand Theft Auto, which considering GTA’s success meant that the franchise had some might big shoes to fill. This past November, True Crime finally did hit the streets, and while it may not be a GTA killer, it definitely shows games of it’s genre definitely have some staying power.
You play the role of Nick Kang, a loner ex-cop who gets brought back into the fold by the EOD (Elite Operating Division) of the Los Angeles Police Department. Some crime is going down, and they believe Nick is the man to put a stop to the mayhem. The game very much looks and feels like a motion picture, with well done dialogue acting and a story along the lines of any big budget action release that hit theatres this year (Bad Boys II, anyone?).
While the story may give you dÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â©jÃƒÆ’ vu of any past cop movie, the plotline feels right at home, and very above average for a video game especially. Different paths you may take also influence the story path, and in turn will allow you to replay the game and get nearly a completely different story. A fun, path-filled story is one of True Crime’s biggest strong points.
As you’d expect, the Xbox gives the game some much-needed extra polish, as each character looks very unique and sharp. The streets of Los Angeles are put together in incredible detail, including suburban and outside areas such as Santa Monica. If you’re a resident or have ever visited SoCal, you’ll be impressed and possibly excited when you drive down a street you’ve seen in real life.
The sharpness of the graphics is nearly a downfall when it comes to the voice acting. The character models are so sharp, that their mouths tend to clip at times, making them look a bit like puppets. The “puppet” look is nit-picking however, as much of the time the graphics are simply to sharp to fault. If you have multiple systems, and are trying to decide on which platform to give True Crime a try, the Xbox is the way to go if you’re looking for the best overall graphical presence.
While the game features a large soundtrack of old school rap and rock tracks (including old school favorites Ice T and Megadeath), the soundtracks can also be customized using the Xbox Custom Soundtrack feature. Mixing the pre-loaded True Crime tracks, along with songs of your own give your game a personalized feel. If you’d prefer to stick with the tracks already in the game, you can add and remove the over 20 tracks to custom fit to your music standards. In short: the True Crime music is entirely up to you!
Voice acting is also incredible, and features the voices of many big screen actors. Nick Kang is voiced by Russell Wong, star of the WB Teen Karate series “Black Sash” as well as Romeo Must Die. Michelle Rodriguez, Gary Oldman, Snoop Dogg, and the one and only Christopher Walken are also on this all star cast, without a doubt the most star-studded class ever assembled for a video game.
The only fault with the sound is possibly the repetitive one-liners from Wong’s Nick Kang character. While at times they could be classified as “cute,” the farther you delve into the game, the easier it is to get irritated by his clever little remarks. Other than that minor nuance, the customization and star power of True Crime make this one of the better sounding games of 2003.
One of the more frustrating aspects of True Crime is the learning curve of the controls. If you’re a frequent player of the action genre, you’ll find True Crime to be nothing like you’ve ever played. This can get frustrating at times due to force of habit. Most car games on the Xbox market, particularly Project Gotham Racing among others, use the “L” trigger to break and the “R” to accelerate while driving. In True Crime, the R button is used to accelerate, while the “L” button is used to DIVE OUT OF THE CAR! Nothing is more frustrating than being involved in a high-speed chase, to hit the break and end up diving out of the car and being run over or shot instead.
The fighting aspect is fairly easy to learn, as only three buttons are used to fight, in any combination, making hand-to-hand combat pretty easy to learn right away. Shooting is another instance where the controls get complicated, as the right analog stick is used to change targets, and forgetting to do so may have you shooting at an already dead opponent. When in a large shootout battle, this can prove to be pretty costly and frustrating.
All frustrating aspects are easily treatable by simply giving the game your full, undivided attention. I’d advise that you NOT play a racing game such as PGR 2 in combination with True Crime, either that or have fantastic focus. Some who aren’t real familiar with any of those genres, this might not be an issue, but for others, the True Crime control may provide headaches.
As mentioned earlier, True Crime’s storyline has many different archs, and the path you choose will affect how you progress in the game. One of True Crime’s biggest selling points is that you never have to play the same mission twice, and this is absolutely true. Even if you fail a mission, you have the option to continue on in the story regardless of the outcome. If you’re intent on successfully completing every mission until you complete the game, it will probably increase your overall playing time, and give you the option of starting the game over and attempting to FAIL every mission. Basically the game is as long or as short as you’d like it to be, making it very hard to complain.
Well this originally screams “Grand Theft Auto Clone!” however the actual storyline says otherwise. While the game itself may be “inspired” from the concept of GTA, the overall story itself is original and above average for a video game. The actual game play itself is another story.
Depending on your love for the action genre really depends on how quickly you’ll be addicted to True Crime. If you’re simply playing the game hoping to repeat your Grand Theft Auto experience, you may be let down. Keeping an open mind and enjoying the movie-like story are definitely reason enough to stick to and finish this game to the very end. The previously mentioned feature of never having to replay a mission may also be enticing to some, as you never HAVE to be stuck playing the same mission over and over if you’d rather not.
True Crime should lure in GTA and action fans alike with its unique storyline and heavy advertising campaign. One of the biggest releases of the year, mixed with a major celebrity cast will be reason enough for even casual gamers to at least give this game a rent. Even if you’re not a fan of action games, simply watching the story or hearing the voices of Christopher Walken and playing as Snoop Dogg may entice you to give True Crime a try.
Appeal Factor: 8.0
Appeal Factor: 8.0
Average Score: 7.6
With Reviewers Tilt: 8.0