posted 5/12/2005 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: Xbox
Although the original NARC was a war ground with non-stop ultra violence, it was also bright and colorful … something completely missing from this updated NARC. Here it appears to be only night, as if we live in some strange parallel universe that is imitating the 1998 movie Dark City. Things are so dark and dreary that there are times where it’s almost impossible to see where you’re going or who you’re after.

The control scheme also comes up short, with a flawed aiming mechanic that sometimes allows you to lock on, but won’t at other times. You actually get a chance to use a lot of hardware, from sniper rifles to rocket launchers; pretty much all your bases are covered. But like everything else in this game, it’s usually not that much fun to use these guns since the enemies rarely put up much of a fight. There are a number of other hang ups that come along with NARC’s control, but chances are you’ll lose interest in the game long before you have a chance to hate the controls.

If you grow tired of doing the same thing in every mission, you can run around the streets looking for criminals to bust (or people to sell drugs to). Since the criminals in the world of NARC are all brain dead morons, it’s easy to find people to arrest performing illegal acts right in front of people. Had this aspect of the game been fleshed out it might have been a fun alternative to the repetitive mission objectives, but as it is there is no point in dealing with these hoodlums.

NARC runs on the same engine that powered State of Emergency, the 2002 riot game that was met with mixed reactions. No matter where you stood on the merits of that game, it’s hard to imagine making a full out Grand Theft Auto-style game out of this old, limited technology. Unfortunately when you see NARC it all makes sense; the characters are blocky and ugly, the world is small and poorly detailed, and nothing ever looks quite right. I’m not surprised they were able to make NARC with the State of Emergency engine; I’m just shocked anybody would even try.

The problem is that NARC isn’t just unmemorable, it’s that even very bad games do these aspects better than Midway’s free roaming opus. Games like DRIV3R and True Crime: Streets of L.A. weren’t considered classics by any means, but compared to NARC they shine as bright as their creators originally wanted. Heck, even State of Emergency ends up looking good compared to this poorly conceived waste of time.

The soundtrack is made up of just over a dozen songs, ranging from old school funk to modern day rap. Just about every song found in the game has something to do with drugs, so it shouldn’t surprise you to see Curtis Mayfield’s Pusherman or anything from Cypress Hill. The problem with the music is that it is set to represent a section of the city, so you’ll run from one part of town to another and hear parts of several songs. This leads to putting up with a lot of the same music over and over, which I found to be kind of obnoxious after awhile.

To be completely fair to Midway, there are aspects of NARC I am completely ignoring in order to complain about the game’s shortcomings. I haven’t brought up the badge rating, which can turn you from a tough investigator down to a street cop busting perps around town. I have completely ignored the second half of the game, which is really more of the same … only with one major difference. I haven’t commented on the supporting cast, who are mostly annoying (except for Ron “Hellboy” Perlman, who I just feel bad for). Nope, I haven’t touched on a lot of the game’s nuance, but after you play the game it’s hard to think about anything but my complaints. This game is a disaster; it’s simply no fun to play at all.

I know a lot of people will be tempted to pick up the game at its $20 price point, but don’t do it; this game isn’t worth it even if they give it to you for free! Wait for San Andreas, because NARC is one drug that is tough to get out of your system. I’m not saying everybody is going to hate it, but I would hate to meet the person who loves it.

In the world of NARC it’s fun to take drugs and shoot hundreds of people, unfortunately in the real world no part of Midway’s updated NARC is fun. Just say no

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