It’s been about six months in the making but PC gamers are finally getting a taste of what console fans have been enjoying since late last year. Console-to-PC ports had been average at best in the past but recent titles such as Grand Theft Auto Vice City
have boded well for the console-challenged. True Crime Streets of LA
has a similarly decent port which tries to add some new features but just can’t really compare to the original console version.
With the exception of the aforementioned, the game is exactly the same from front to back. You’re still Nick Kang, the stereotypical loose cannon whose life is dedicated to finding the whereabouts of his missing father. All of the voice acting is still here as is are the same plot twists and turns that you witnessed the first time around. Since the game is a port I’ll refrain from going over the same features that I went over in my review of the PS2 version. If you’d like to learn more about the title as a whole check out this review
, I’ll instead choose to focus my energy on the various changes and upgrades that the game has received. There’s a minor facelift in place, some new additions to the arsenal and a brand new multiplayer mode that looks to extend the life of the game.
A new control scheme has been implemented and it’s a textbook case of hit-and-miss implementation. Activision opted to go the standard first person shooter route and map out the movements to the WASD keys while giving you the option of looking around with the mouse. Left click performs the main action while the right click and middle mouse button perform the secondary and tertiary actions. This works extremely well for the shooting situations, a little too well. Some of the game’s sequences are far too easy due to the fact that you can manually aim and move. There’s an early sniper battle that was challenging due to the fact that you had to remain stationary in order to attack him. Now you can simply strafe between cover and pick him off before he even gets a shot off. Other sequences are equally simple due to the free-aim mechanism.
I really dug the hand-to-hand combat of the console games as it was surprisingly deep. Here it’s the same basic system but more complicated due to the fact that you have to use the mouse to do combat. You use the left click to punch, the right click to kick, the middle mouse button/wheel to jump kick and the E key to throw your opponents. As you could probably imagine this makes the hand-to-hand portions extremely finicky and hard to execute.
Things get a little better in the free-roaming elements of the game because you don’t necessarily use the hand-to-hand all that often. All of the controls are mapped near the WASD keys so you generally have access to everything with your fingertips. I also found that running around and arresting criminals was easier due to the fact that the game has a button dedicated to firing warning shots up in the air. On the console versions you had to press a combination of buttons in the heat of the battle, here you just have to push Q and you can stop most thugs in their tracks. Simply put, the game was designed to be used with a controller. If you plan on playing the game I’d recommend you pick up a decent gamepad to go along with it.
One of the advantages that the PC has over the console realm is its amazing horsepower. True Crime
looked pretty damn good when it released last year but this PC port looks dated and washed out. It looks slightly better than the PS2 and Xbox versions but that’s not saying much when we’re talking about an eight month old game. When compared to recent games that hit the market the game looks significantly inferior in terms of technology and artistic design. Even the remarkably modeled city of Los Angeles has lost its luster in the transition as you’ll begin to notice the bland textures at the higher resolutions. It’s still a decent looking game but it definitely doesn’t look like something that belongs on the market in the fifth month of 2004.
To cater more to the PC crowd the designers retooled the soundtrack and added some hard-hitting rock tunes to the sound track. The tracks will definitely appeal to the tastes of some but will probably turn off many. I mean, exactly how much can you rock out on a soundtrack that features The Donnas? I also had some problems with the sound mix on the PC version. All of the audio sounds very underwhelming and I even noticed a significant drop in the quality of most of the sound samples. When turning the volume up there was a noticeable warble during the game’s cutscenes. Most of the samples are very underwhelming too as they did very little to take advantage of my 5.1 setup. In fact, the game doesn't even have support for EAX users. Using the exact same speakers, the PS2 version really thumps while the PC version kind of just whimpers.
Multiplayer has really come into its own in the past couple of years and it appears to be the main draw of this console port. With support up to four players you can participate in a number of modes that play off of the single-player portion of the game. There’s a mode called ‘The Beat’ which challenges players to solve the most crimes in a set amount of time. This mode can get pretty frantic with players rushing around and trying to steal each other’s busts. ‘Police Chase’ plays like an interactive version of World’s Wildest Police Chases
where the suspects must stay a set distance away from their police pursuers. The last interesting mode is essentially a checkpoint race which is reminiscent of Midnight Club II
. You can either hit five pre-designed courses or design one of your own. All of these could have been pretty fun except for the fact that it only supports four players, a rather small number when you enter the PC realm. It’s also frustrating to learn that the game can only be booted when the first disc is in the drive. The game comes on four discs which gives you the potential of fulfilling the multiplayer capacity with one retail package. Instead you’ll have to purchase four copies of the game just to have a private four-player LAN party with your buddies.
Console gamers have it lucky; all they need to do is just pop the game into the tray and wait for it to boot up. PC gamers aren’t quite as fortunate as they generally have to deal with a lengthy install and the numerous bugs and issues that come afterward. Though True Crime is a port of a console game we still ran into a number of annoying bugs. GN’s Randy Kalista was originally assigned to do the review but could not fulfill his duties when the game refused to install on his Athlon-based system. When I transferred the game over to my P4 2.4Ghz, 512MB DDR, Ati 9700 All-in-Wonder Pro I ran into few problems, most of which revolved around issues with texture and image corruption.
On the whole, the PC version should be your last choice if you want to hit the streets of LA. It may be the best looking version and it may feature multiplayer but it simply is lacking where it shouldn’t be. Perhaps the game could get better with the help of a few subsequent patches but as it stands, the retail product simply doesn’t match up to its console brethren.