Minority Report: Everybody Runs (Xbox)
The game roughly, and I do mean roughly follows the story told by Spielberg's long awaited Minority Report. John Anderton? Check. Movie license? Check. Tom Cruise based character? Sadly not applicable. Instead John Anderton becomes a 30-something white haired male with nothing distinguishing... just... plain. Cut to the story, which is so poorly developed you would think this game decided to include the Minority Report license as an afterthought. The Pre-cogs are given no back story, same goes for the whole Pre-Crime operation. Even the devious bad guy and girl of the game are given nothing. Yet the events that unfold after Anderton is identified as a murderer seem to be pulled straight from the movie... sort of. After a certain point it would branch off again to it’s own new story.
After becoming the target of the Pre-Crime units the game turns toward the whole "Everybody Runs" idea that this game tries to convey. Although in this game they should have subtitled it either "Everybody Slides," or "Everybody Throws." Once you get into game it becomes painfully obvious what I am talking about. While running from Pre-Crime units your most useful technique is the slide technique which will floor just about any human unit. And while they fall you're off and running. Or you can take the alternate approach, get up to a second level of an area if there is one, stun a guard and then toss him over the edge and BOOM! Instant death for your would be chasers. Which also leads to a troubling thought. If John is trying to prove his innocence then why would he kill those he worked with for a time? Oops no time to think about that, back to running from the man, but not without a good sucker punch every now and again for good measure.
The fighting system is managable but at times feels very unresponsive, it consists mostly of punches and kicks that you string together to form combos and you can charge the last hit for that extra bit of damage. Only problem is that the combos are usually three moves long leading to some repititiveness. However there are a good amount of upgradable and purchasable moves. Which leads to the "Black Market." During any moment of the game you can pause and go to an option that will allow you to buy power ups. Temporary Invinciblity, Strength Boosts, HP Boosts, weapons, all the stuff necessary to prolong John's escape from the man. But why make it so accessible? It would have been better to be able to purchase the power ups before a stage as opposed to being able to pull them out of thin air whenever necessary, a sub-item screen would have been very useful in this case, and more appropriate. And what a good idea it would have been to put some chase music in this game. Instead you're given what I like to call Future Rock, in other words some generic rock track that the sound producer made when he woke up in the morning, although there are some decent tunes in the game courtesy of Apex Theory. However I must give credit to the sound team for making me laugh for hours on end. See while in the game, should you happen to toss an unsespecting Pre-Crime officer over the edge of a building more often than not you will hear a comical, "OH NO I'M FAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLIIIIING!!!" As if it wasn't obvious enough seeing as how they were just thrown off a building, but that line alone had me in stitches for at least a good hour. Hell I died and played through the stage multiple times just so I could hear them. This coupled with the fact that the voice syncing is just downright awful made for even more laughs.
Thankfully the graphics are better than the sound although not by much. The character models at times are downright ugly, with little variation. There are basically two types of basic cops, fat and skinny, and then there are Pre-Crime officers who add a little organization to the units, each person is has a color band on their arms to represent which unit they are; blue is the standard thug equivalent, the green units carry a melee weapon of sorts, usually a puke wand or a bat, the red units carry the artillery and when they start toting shotguns watch out, and then there are the yellow units who run away from John like the plague and toss annoying spider drones that will slow you down or blow you up if you're not careful. Enemy AI is actually quite decent and at other times downright unfair. There will be times where you can’t even hit your opponent because of their dodge animation, which is quite annoying when you’re shooting a shotgun right in their face and just because they are in this dodge animation they escape unscathed.
Treyarch tried to do something interesting with all character models, they all suffer from rag-doll syndrome, which boils down to flying like a doll with no articulation when you get knocked around. Which at times is also quite comical because of the position some people can land in. Level textures are futuristic, clean, and bland where as the design themselves leaves something to be desired, not to mention short. The game may have 40 levels but some of them can you can breeze through in five minutes or less.
Secrets, bonuses, extra content, all are abound in this game. Playing through the game you will find many many secrets, although they really aren’t very secretive. Most stages just have a power-up that is just slightly out of the way, like around a corner or something and will be called a secret, othertimes you have to risk life and limb to get them, one stage that is particularly offensive is the Steriflux Backwash level where a secret is hidden in such a bad spot that it will require dying many times just to attempt to grab.
During the game Pain Arenas will also be unlocked, one for each of the agents who are chasing you in the game; Danny Whitwer, Ken Nara, Ben Mosely, and then one for Nikki Jameson. The names of these arenas are to be taken to a literal extreme, for in them you are given no weapons, and you must fight hand to hand. This would be great if the enemies weren’t all able to dodge every single move you make. And upon completing the game at various difficulties you are awarded with new character models for John.
Minority Report has it’s brief moments where the game actually feels enjoyable, like when tossing Pre-Crime officers off buildings. But other than that the game is nothing more than a game that ties in with it’s movie counter-part release. Which is actually quite sad because this game could have been quite good. But instead we are given a game that follows closely in the foot steps of Spiderman and trips up and fumbles out the door. If you want a movie based game, then Spiderman is a much better choice to go with. But if you already have Spiderman and liked it then give Minority Report a shot. You may find more of what you liked about Spiderman in this game.
It really goes without saying that when a game is made that is based off a movie the results are going to be sub-par. Sure you watch the introduction you see people being juggled with a Concussion Rifle and the idea that this game could be fun comes to mind. The moment the game starts it all goes down hill from there.
Rating: 4.5 Heavily Flawed
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
I recently cleared the 10 year club with Gaming Nexus. Kind of surprised I've been a mainstay here for a little over a decade now.
In a past life I worked with Interplay, EA, Harmonix, Konami, and a number of other developers and have recently returned from a job in Texas doing production work for a company that did cell phone games. Now I'm working for a record label, along with Gaming Nexus, and anywhere else that sees fit to employ me.