Written by  :  SifouNaS (1326)
Written on  :  May 01, 2006
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  3.71 Stars3.71 Stars3.71 Stars3.71 Stars3.71 Stars

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A total overdose of average cloning

The Good

Before getting this game I read somewhere on the web that it’s a mix of GTA with a good dose of Max Payne. I know now that I shouldn't have read this review as the game indeed has something from this two titles, but unfortunately it is not well implemented.

What this game has is a good Mexican atmosphere. You can almost smell the chili, the tacos and the burritos around the alleys of this Mexican city that the game’s plot is set up. Well about the plot itself it is all about gang wars, dope, guns and all kind of illegitimate goods, all with a hot-blooded frontal vengeance attack!

The game has you as Ramirez Cruz the prodigal son of a DEA agent who did the mistake to go hunting drug-lords in Mexico. Apparently your father got killed in action and your twin brother, Alex, also a DEA agent gets on his trails to nail the sod who did it and find out what your father was after. Unfortunately your brother gets exploded and nailed to a wheelchair. Good news is that he’s still alive. Good news? Not, cause since you’re his 'evil' twin and you’re doing some time in jail. He arranges for you to get out of prison and continue his mission as himself. What did you expect? Freedom has a serious price!

There the game begins as a third person shooter with a nice collection of melee and firearms that gets increased as the plot progress, including all the classic handguns, SMGs, hunting rifles, Molotov cocktails, grenades, baseball bats, machete knives and so on.

Apart from the classic arsenal the game gives you special abilities in the form of “Loco Moves”. These are basically devastating weapons that should be used in areas with high villain concentration. Typically you have a “Golden Gun” move which is an accurate high impact Magnum pistol, “El Toro” that makes you run around killing enemies with your head, an auto-fire whirlwind which is especially effective when you’re surrounded from enemies, two guitar cases that each of them carries a machine gun inside and many more havoc tools. Loco moves are not given for free though. You only gain loco moves after killing enemies and getting higher scores in missions.

Adding to the atmosphere are the soundtrack music selections, ranging from heavy rock-metal tunes to Latin, to rap music. They are very effective, well chosen and really immerse you in the menace. On the sound department the sound effects are very good. From the weapons and car-sounds to the funny lines of the main hero and the world he interacts with. Also the city ambient sounds are very well done and add to the feeling of being there.

In the same vain as GTA you can go for the main plot effective missions, or just wander around the city and collect points, stamina and health add-ons, or simple weaponry dispensed from cigarette vending machines. You don’t smoke you say? Then stay empty and get smoked! So apart from the main missions the game requires you to complete a sub-mission in order to give you entrance to the next plot-following mission. These submissions are usually in the vain of assaulting a bunch of pistoleros. Or there are racing missions, but nothing big and fancy here, just get a banger and race around waypoints before the clock gets zeroed. The fancier vehicle you will get to drive is an 80's muscle-car decorated with the unmistakable 'Mexican touch'! Another sub-mission involves moving boxes with a forklift to unblock the way of a car. Nearly all non assault sub-missions are no-brain encounters, they only require quick gaming skills.

Another good aspect of the game is when you find the "skull" or "fist" tokens. The skull gets you in the "Day of the Dead" mode where you have to kill as many silly-skull uniformed enemies as you can. The aim is to get a high killing score. This mode is sometimes useful to replenish your arsenal. Make sure though that you have enough health to survive. On the other hand collecting a "fist" token will transform you into a wrestler complete with a silly uniform and mask! This is great laugh as you run around shouting like mad (probably insults in Spanish – I caught “puta” which must mean whore in Spanish) trying to kill other equally silly looking wrestlers who are after you. This only gains you points, melee weapons and a laugh!

Although the town area is not that huge as you might expect, based on GTA standards, nor it is that beautifully modeled, it is very well laid out and the inhabitants look very Mexican like! Not only their clothing but the way they move and behave. Their moves are so laid back and lazy like there's nothing stressing them. At times someone's gets angry and starts a fight. The police doesn't a damn if you run around like Need For Speed killing a couple dozens Mexicanos on your passing, but they will react if you start shooting innocent people on the street, which is inefficient to do in the first place; not only you don't get any points for killing innocents, you're waisting your ammo as well!

Finally the enemy's AI is pretty good! Here you meet a variety of guys who either attack you as soon they spot you, which is not that difficult, and others that stay covered and fire at you as soon as you sneak out of that corner. So you're having a pretty decent level of clever AI here that needs a bit of movement planning from your side to get over them.

The Bad

Well this could be a huge title. Not only it has atmosphere and the Latin spicy temperament but it also immerses in the gangster culture, or the graphic aspect of it. The worst thing about this game is that in order to enjoy it to the max you need a good machine; a good VGA with lots of memory and processor power. Which is really weird, cause the game’s 3D modeling is kept to a simple level. The textures are not that detailed also, so where this power gets wasted? I would not know. Weird enough but my machine has an Nvidia Quadro 2000 VGA and 2GB of RAM on and sometimes it stumbles while playing this. So I reckon one should have a top of the line modern game powerful VGAs. Which is a shame cause the game graphically does not deserve all this power really. The car handling is crap, then again I haven't seen a game in this genre that has good car handling, so that shouldn't be a bad point at all LOL!

Another annoying thing is the lack of a "save game" option whenever the player wants to. You are only able to save the game whenever you reach a save point, which comes in the form of a blue cylindrical orb. That basically means that if you don’t get out of a mission alive you have to play it all over from the beginning.

Guns and ammo: Although you have a good variety of boom toys to play with, ammo for the decent guns doesn't come easy. For instance ammo for the military SMG (the equivalent of MP-5) is very scarce, and that weapon really rocks! On the other hand having your pistols loaded is not a problem, but these suck =(

As a personal opinion I think that this game lacks of a basic stealth capability. You don't have a "duck" movement, so all your attack approaches should be planned by using large objects as a cover. Also the enemies can see you through plantation; hiding behind bushes and thinking that you're safe is a not a wise thing to do. On the other hand, as you will understand inside the storyline, stealth is a word unknown in the main hero's vocabulary!!!

Finally this game was originally designed for the Consoles markets, and it probably got transferred to the PC just in the form it was on the consoles. So the movement combos and difficult movement strings do not add to the playability, as some times you've got to do a difficult combination in order to kill enemies and gain more points to complete a sub-level. So unless you have a PlayStation styled joypad for your pc get ready for some keyboard fingers stumbling to get those points.

The Bottom Line

Albeit having the atmosphere and all the good will to deliver the goods, unfortunately it doesn’t. This doesn’t necessarily mean that this game is so bad as it sounds. It might be really sweet to play it with a high end machine, but average gamers will need a lot of firepower to get the road show going perfectly.

Finally to be fair with it, Total Overdose is one of the better GTA clones around, so you may want to give it a go. It really reminded me of a title that goes some 5-6 years back: "Urban Chaos" and that was a very good game back then. Total Overdose doesn't have the flow in the movement that Urban Chaos had, but it has the spice for sure.

Also if you're planning to have Mexican food for dinner, this game will get you in the right mood for it! :D