Written by  :  Zovni (10665)
Written on  :  Nov 21, 2002
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  3.8 Stars3.8 Stars3.8 Stars3.8 Stars3.8 Stars
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One of the best Rail-shooters ever. 10-4!!!

The Good

Rail-shooters are often amusing but worthless products. I mean, they are fun to play in the arcades, but would you seriously want to Own them??? Save for some recent blockbusters like Time Crisis, House of The Dead or the pretty obscure Point Blank series there are basically no games worth paying more than a quarter to enjoy (and even those lose a lot of their appeal once you bring them home). However Crime Patrol is one of those rare games were the sheer creative content in it manages to overcome any liability caused by lackluster gameplay, shoddy graphics, etc. etc.

So, you all know that American Laser Games made video-based rail-shooters with an interactive movie-feel, right? Based on what I wrote up there you are probably thinking that this game is then a fantastically compelling thriller with a story worthy of shakespeare and with A-list talents and actors.... WRONG! Crime Patrol (as the cheesy name should have told you) is a perfect translation of an action B-movie, complete with a strip-club scene, cliche stunts (car flying through the air in slo-mo), paper-thin villains, and practically no plot to speak of, just an excuse to blow shit up....

So that's good??? Damn Right!! Because CP instead of cowering it's origins like a Max Payne wanna-be shoves them right in your face, and with some clever writing manage to turn the "laughing at you" comedy into "laughing WITH you". It's like CP is mostly an involuntary laugh-fest, but somehow KNOWS about this, and reacts accordingly. One of the gimmicks that ALG used to set it apart from other shooters were the inclusion of partners, each one a source of great comedy that offers quips and comedy relief in their own quirky ways. Each one from the slightly psychotic and hyper-active patrol woman, the donut eating/Yoohoo drinking detective (my personal favorite), the "whatevaaa" model that plays the swat officer, or the hard-as-nails black (of course) Delta Force CO get to strut their stuff in the game and provide some of the game's most memorable moments (such as getting a Yoohoo! as "the usual" on a bar!). But most importantly due to the nature of the game, their contributions are kept concentrated & maximized, since by the time they start to get annoying the game wisely has you "promoted" to another unit, with a brand new partner. This of course brings me to the standard ALG "scene" progression system that has you choose the mission/sequence you are going to play. Each rank you have has it's selections of missions, which you can select to play at any time. However unlike other ALG games like Mad Dog McCree or Space Pirates, the missions here show a remarkable amount of variety, from shootouts on airports, banks, trailer parks, and yes, a strip-club :)). Each with it's own B-movie moments filled with screeching tires, lame one-liners, stupid explosions, over-acting, "movie" deaths, etc...

The production values are dead-on, the music helps keep the "Lorenzo Lamas in Renegade" mood, and the gameplay is crammed with enough action to keep you as much entertained as the "movie" portions do.

The Bad

While CP escapes from most of the standard flaws that plague other ALG titles (shoddy writing, crap gameplay) it still has to contend with some that would never be adressed, namely conversion problems. Getting these games to work on a PC is quite a challenge, since most PCs don't come equipped with laser guns, and even if they did, the average monitor doesn't have the sheer size that a tv or rear-projection screen have (which results in a serious raise in the sensibility requirements for said laser gun and the added problem of the distance between you & the monitor). Ergo, even if ALG included top notch laser-guns with their games, most people are still going to play this with a mouse, which kinda sucks, but is bearable.... as long as the mouse pointer is acceptable, and if you know ALG you know it's not. CP follows the unwritten rules and comes with the biggest pointer on earth, in fact sometimes you hesitate to aim since doing so blocks out half the screen (well, not really but you get the picture)....

Furthermore, while it's easy to pack a lot of high-quality video on a laserdisc, doing so in a cd is slightly trickier, as a result of the poor video encoding technologies of the time the video isn't fullscreen (65-70% actual screen size) and it's pretty grainy and pixellated, a definitive letdown from the arcade version.

Also, there are other less pc-related problems. You see, the gameplay alternates between traveling shots where the action is scripted (and what you do or don't do triggers a shot change) and static shots where the enemies pop-up randomly via take-switchings of the same shot. The problems arise on these later ones, and do so because the continuity errors give away which enemy is going to pop up, "oh, so the tree just swayed and the shadows just shifted, that means a biker is going to pop up over there" etc. Unfortunately these errors do not fall into the "involuntary laughter category" and are just plain lame... except the ones that involve the stripper's choreography... hehehe :)

Oh, and there's no 2-player mode! Bummer....

The Bottom Line

Wildly entertaining and remarkable ingenious piece of software. Takes what it has (which isn't much really) and delivers one of the most entertaining experiences ever. Just make sure you appreciate the self-aware MST3K-like sense of humor and enjoy laughing at bad movies with your friends... otherwise this game isn't really for you.