GTA ripoffs are slowly and steadily creeping into the game
market, trying to cash in on the “sand box” gameplay dynamic of go anywhere, do
anything. The title to come the closest
in style and presentation was Luxoflux’s True Crime: Streets of LA. The third-person shooter boasted a fairly
faithful recreation of Los Angeles and a large stock of things to do, but it
was a little too big for its own good and lacked significant polish. With two years to improve the experience,
Luxoflux has tried again, this time in the Big Rotten Apple. The sequel to LA, True Crime: New York City, fixes
a lot of the old problems but unfortunately not nearly enough.
the set abilities of current consoles, the graphical presentation is impressive. It isn’t noticeably better than LA, but with
the massive environment and sheer number of NPCs on the screen at once, the
visual atmosphere is sufficient. Many of
the textures are downright smeary when examined up close, but again, it’s all
for the sake of the whole. The gritty,
crime-ridden world of Manhattan is believable, excessively detailed and very
big. It takes several minutes to drive
from one edge of the island to the other, and you really get a sense of scale
as you pass building after building.
moderate-but-lackluster environment would be passable, if not for one huge
detriment: the framerate. In some
places, it is truly unforgivable. Just
racing down the streets you’ll encounter nauseating chop, and in the action-filled
missions it gets almost unplayable. The
inaccuracy of skipping frames caused me to wreck on several occasions or make a
mistake that I could normally avoid.
shootout or fistfight, framerate can mean the difference between life and
death, and it’s just as finicky in combat as it is everywhere else. With massive games like GTA San Andreas
running on the antiquated PS2 hardware, this kind of slowdown on the more
powerful GameCube (in a smaller world, no less) is inexcusable.
becoming accustomed to a framerate in the 15 fps area, I expected to find some
solid play mechanics. After all, Perfect
Dark on the N64 had its chop issues, but it delivered the goods. Disappointingly, True crime stumbles here as
well, but not because the gameplay is broken in any way—it just trips over an
ample supply of bugs. Doors refuse to
open; the camera gets stuck everywhere, even in the character’s head; rooms go
black for no reason; collision detection is hit-or-miss; and quite often, the
game crashes arbitrarily. Just to make
sure, I took a hard look at my GameCube and determined that no, I was not playing on a Mac.
not the two-year cleanup I expected from a sequel. Luxoflux did tweak a few things, such as the
directional attacks in hand-to-hand combat, but the bad far outweighs the good
here. It’s a wonder that True Crime: New York City
escaped play testing to sneak onto store shelves.
first hour of playing this game, I began to mutter scores like “2.3 out of 10,”
but luckily I stuck around. For players
who brave the bugs and stutters, there is a meaty experience waiting with a
solid story and likeable gameplay. The
main protagonist, Marcus Reed, definitely has more depth than LA’s wooden hero,
Nick Kang. The initial impression I got
from Reed was a stereotypical African American gang-banger, and I found this
disheartening and disappointing, but as the story progresses Marcus is revealed
as a real person. He isn’t anti-hero
#457; he has his own unique attitude and style, and his checkered past really
filters down into his personality.
(voiced by Lawrence Fishburne) is an ex-crime boss, locked away in a federal
prison for over fifteen years. Marcus
has dealt with the fallout and repercussions of being a crime prince his whole
lift, and his harder edge is reflected in how he handles crime. He works for the good guys, but he isn’t nice
about it. In fact, the player gets to
decide exactly how nice, as the good cop/bad cop system returns from True Crime: Streets of LA. Although the light/dark dynamic isn’t
as prominent or integral as it was in the first game, it still factors into the
ending to the story, so replaying True Crime: New York City is a feasible possibility.
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