I have made no secret about the fact that I want another Snatcher sequel. I loved the original Sega CD version and even stumbled through the Japan-only sequel, Policenauts. I've devoted a big chunk of my life to trying to convince somebody (ANYBODY!) that a third Snatcher game was a fantastic idea. But maybe I've been wrong all this time. In a lot of ways Miami Law, Hudson's newest adventure game for the Nintendo DS, plays like a modern day version of Hideo Kojima's 1988 cyberpunk masterpiece. And while that may sound like a compliment, I assure you it is not.
The game revolves around two Miami detectives, Law Martin (yes, Law is his FIRST name) and Sara Starling. In the first of many cop show clichés, Miami Law pairs these two unlikely partners against their will. He is a Jack Bauer-style, take-no-prisoners, act-first, loose cannon kind of guy, while she thinks things out and is as straight-laced as you can get. It's clear from the get-go that these two have a lot to learn from each other, so it's unsurprising that as the game unfolds Sara becomes a little more open and Law thinks before he acts.
The story is broken up into five different cases, each of which offers a good sized adventure. The game's flow is definitely slow, often halting the action completely to make you read line after line of woefully dull dialogue. Then, when you know where you're supposed to go and what your mission is, you get to choose between playing either Law or Sara.
In most games the player you choose has very little impact, often just featuring a different character on the screen (possibly with a different special move or attributes). That is certainly not the case in Miami Law. Since both characters represent different investigation styles, you'll quickly discover that they both have completely different things to do. Law, for example, is in the front lines doing whatever it takes to get the bad guy, even if that means pulling out your gun and getting into high-speed car chases. Sara, on the other hand, is more about solving puzzles and giving Law back-up when needed. The good news is that you will constantly be prompted to choose between the characters, so you're not locked to one play style throughout the whole game.
Like all crime dramas, it all starts with a mysterious murder. Before long the team is off looking for clues, talking to witnesses, interrogating suspects and so on so forth. What you uncover is that there's much more going on than just a simple homicide, you're dealing with a domestic terrorists organization that is threatening Miami's way of life. All this has the makings for a super exciting 24-style storyline. Unfortunately the game's narrative gets bogged down by needless conversations and trial and error gameplay. The story's twists aren't as exciting or unexpected as they should have been, and some of the game is so outlandish that it took me completely out of the experience.
On the surface Miami Law acts like any one of those generic cop dramas CBS is so fond of filling their prime with. Early on I was impressed with what the game was trying to do; it felt like it was slowly offering up clues, giving observant armchair sleuths a chance to solve the case before anybody else. The problem is that once you start getting down to uncovering evidence, the game quickly becomes laughably simplistic. It's not that the game doesn't offer some challenge, but I have a hard time believing that these two detectives could put together a jigsaw puzzle, let alone solve such an important case.
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