I hate NARC!
It’s not because of the horrible graphics and sub-standard game play. It’s not because of its subject matter, of which it’s full of offensive behavior and despicable acts. It’s not even how limited the game’s scope seems to be. What I hate about NARC, Midway’s long overdue update to the 1988 arcade smash hit, is that it lacks anything even remotely resembling fun. It’s a joyless experience that could have you reevaluating why you play games in the first place.
You alternate between playing Marcus Hill (voiced by MTV alumni Bill Bellamy) and Jack Forzenski (Michael Madsen of Kill Bill vol. 2 and Reservoir Dogs) on missions that have you taking down drug dealers, drug users, and really anybody who happens to be around the action. There is a little more depth to these tasks, but for the most part it’s your job to power your way through multiple thugs and beat facts out of prisoners to continue getting leads for your quest.
There’s a story here, one that has to do with taking down the people that are providing a new super drug to the town, a drug known as Liquid Soul. Unlike most of the drugs on the streets that will send you to an early grave, this Liquid Soul seems to be able to keep people alive … something you might want if you’re trying to create unrest or an army or something. The various plot points are really nothing more than an excuse to keep you going to new areas and roughing up new baddies; something that doesn’t take long before it just seems pointless.
Much of the problem with NARC can be associated with the locale; it’s just not very interesting. Scratch that, “interesting” was three exits ago … NARC is just plain dull! No matter what part of the game you are in, the environment is pretty small and no fun to look at. It’s filled with mostly bleak images mixed with poor graphics and a lack of detail. Unlike other free roaming games that make it fun to adventure around your surroundings, NARC seems dead set on killing any hopes of excitement.
NARC does have one gimmick going for it that no other free roaming action game has done yet … drug use! In this game you aren’t just tempted to use the drugs; it actually rewards you (in a sense) for taking them. Most of the drugs on the street make some aspect of the game easier, either by slowing everything down, speeding everything up, or making you next to invincible. But all this comes with a drawback, because the more you take the more withdrawals you will have, eventually hampering your performance.
This gimmick could have worked had it been handled better, perhaps by a company that understood the depth of the material or even its seriousness. But that could be said about almost every facet of this game’s design. Every part of the game feels like it was tossed together as quickly as possible to earn a quick buck from people who can’t wait for San Andreas. Had this not been announced nearly two years ago, I would have thought it was thrown together in a matter of a couple months.
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