24: The Game

Review

posted 3/15/2006 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: PS2

But once you're done watching the cinemas and trying to make sense of the story you are left with a game that could have been a lot better.  No matter which character you're controlling -- Jack, Tony, Kim, among others -- you'll always be fighting with the sluggish control scheme.  The auto aim proves to be the toughest enemy of this game; it's constantly aiming at the wrong thing or failing to hit its target.  You'll find yourself battling the controls for at least the first few hours before getting used to it.

Thankfully the enemies in 24: The Game are pretty stupid.  It will take some of the enemies 30 seconds or more to shoot at you after he's seen you, giving you plenty of time to get your aim down and take him out.  These enemies aren't the best shot, either.  In many of the levels all you have to do to avoid them is run around in plain sight, giving you time to figure out where you need to go next.

Along with running around and shooting terrorists, 24 also features a number of disappointing driving levels.  Thanks to its structure, 24 never comes off feeling like a Grand Theft Auto-rip off; your driving missions usually involve you escaping somebody or chasing somebody, both of which end up being extremely linear.  Things are not helped by the fact that L.A. has been reduced in size for this game.  Don't expect the sprawling city of Los Angeles, you are pretty much only getting a chunk … and a not very interesting chunk at that.

It's easy to see what is wrong with the driving right away, it's hard to control.  The cars just don't feel right and things tend to be more frustrating than fun.  While playing through the game I started to realize that this reminded me of another PlayStation 2 game made by Sony, The Getaway.  24 does not have the attention to detail, but it does have the control problems and the same unexciting look.  Jack Bauer is at his best when he's out of his car.

Oh, and I can't forget to mention the bevy of mini-games.  Whenever you need to pick a lock or hack a computer, 24 decides to throw you a funky little mini-game, most of which require some kind of puzzle solving.  These sections aren't difficult, but a couple of them can be a little frustrating at first.  By the end of the experience a few of these games actually started to grow on me, I probably wouldn't want to play them as a stand alone experience, but they weren't bringing this experience down either.

Fans of the show might notice a few other problems with the game, especially when it comes to time management.  24 has always had to fudge the reality of their stopwatch, without speeding up time there would be no way of fitting a full hour into a 44 minute show.  But 24: The Game takes this art to a whole new level, you can literally complete what the game calls an hour in under 15 minutes.  The problem is that a lot of the levels (especially early on) don't seem to have much going on; there's a brief cinema laying out the story of that episode and then it's up to you to perform some kind of action mission, once completed you're treated to another cinema and then the clock counting up to the next hour.  It feels like the first six hours can be done in only a couple hours, while the game tops off at around 10 hours.  That's about half of the time it would take to actually watch a season on DVD.

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