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True Crime: Streets of LA (PlayStation 2)

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3.0
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Written by  :  EboMike (3009)
Written on  :  Sep 01, 2004
Platform  :  PlayStation 2
Rating  :  4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars

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Summary

I didn't even know you could top Vice City!

The Good

True Crime is packed with features and gimmicks that make this game enjoyable. First of all, the different elements of the game add a lot of variety: There's the driving, the shoot-outs, fighting, sneaking, chasing and arresting suspects. And a lot of little fun stuff you can do, like randomly searching pedestrians (with Nick sometimes uttering a disappointed "Damn! Nothing!" when encountering somebody innocent).

One of my favorites features of the game is that it is set in an actual city, namely Los Angeles. The city has been recreated very accurately and with great detail; I live in Southern California and recognized many spots in the game. It's great to play a game and say, "hey, I've driven on that street!"

Technically, the streaming is flawless. Only if you look close can you see how freshly loaded data fades into the world. (And I've worked on a streaming system for a PS2 game, that definitely isn't an easy task). The only technical flaw is the collision system - you often find people clipping half-way through the walls, and if you drive fast enough, you sometimes can even penetrate walls with your car. In the worst case, you can go through a wall into a section where you are not supposed to be and can't get out. But collision too is a nasty thing to program, so I won't complain.

Even though the game is laden with different sub-game types (driving, fighting, walking), each sub-game has been developed with great detail and offers many specialized movements and techniques. Better still, as you progress, you can learn new moves, like additional attack moves or special car maneuvers.

The cut-scenes are very well done; decent voice acting and excellent motion capture. The script itself isn't brilliant, but good enough for a video-game. The fact that the storyline splits depending on how nice or reckless you are adds a lot to the game too.

Some people complained about the main character's corny one-liners and flat personality. I think it's appropriate, he's the typical hero of a crime story. His one-liners are sometimes funny enough, and sometimes he even admits his uncool phrases ("Man, that was corny!"). The voice talents are also mostly very famous actors (although some of them not quite as high-profile as those in VC).

The soundtrack is fantastic. Activision has chosen to license contemporary rap and metal. The rap soundtrack is perfectly fitting and has brilliant artists like Snoop Dogg, Westside Connection and Bone Thugs 'n' Harmony. What's even better is that all the tracks are the unedited versions - I can't remember hearing anything that explicit in a video game. The ingame dialogs as well deserve the game's M-rating - they are not as explicit as the soundtrack, but nevertheless not watered down in any way.

Once you get tired of the game, you can always try to unlock the secrets that are built in, the most famous one being "Dogg Patrol" where the player's model turns to Snoop Dogg and most of the ingame voice-overs have been re-recorded by Mr. Dogg himself. Months after letting True Crime collect dust, I re-discovered it and spent countless hours in Dogg Patrol, which is a must-see. Snoop Dogg's one-liners are hilarious (and very explicit!)

The Bad

The controls are good, but some parts require some time to get used to. This is not surprising, given the vast amount of possibilities the game offers. Still, I sometimes have problems properly controlling the camera or aiming.

The missions are sometimes very short, like "go from A to B". You can make them longer by resolving some of the random street crimes that occur, but if you opt not to, the game itself is not too long and you end up in the cycle of loading - short mission - loading - medium-length mission - loading - short mission.

In the "Good Cop" storyline, the plot takes a sudden dumb twist in Episode 6. I mean, extraordinarily dumb. I hated that episode, it totally killed the atmosphere and idea of the entire game (but luckily, the subsequent episodes were normal again). The final revelation in the Good Cop storyline is stupid and unbelievable as well.

A few missions seem to rely a bit too much on what you have at that moment - you can always carjack yourself a better car or try to get better combat moves. If you are in a "get from A to B in 30 seconds" missions and happen to have a slow car, you're in trouble. The good thing is though that you can jump back to the storyline overview at any time and re-do older missions, thereby getting the chance to upgrade your ride.

And another little quirk: The good cop/bad cop rating system is very cool, but the sneaking missions kind of spoil it a bit: Each enemy you knock out in those missions gives you one (normally hard to earn) "good" point, so it's really not that hard to keep your balance positive by just playing these missions.

The Bottom Line

Fun. Fun. Fun. This game offers a lot, and I enjoyed it immensely. It has a few quirks, but if you like this kind of game, you won't be disappointed. Even after you have seen all the cut-scenes and solved all missions, you can always cruise through the streets, enjoy the soundtrack and deal with the numerous random street crimes.

It *will* get boring after a while, and there are less secret little things scattered than in Vice City (at least as far as I can tell), but that probably goes for most games. Due to the Los Angeles angle, I could relate to this game more than to similar other ones - it just feels a lot more "real".