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SummaryThere are good clones and there are bad clones
The GoodHow would you like to play GTA 3 as being a cruel cop? So here comes True Crime (TC from here on). And suddenly you have the chance to be cop in a GTA environment. This is a good concept for a game, although the "drive 'n' fight" scheme has been reproduced quite a few times, here we have another specimen, in fact a, what I believe, GTA 3 clone where you get to play the good guy here by the name of Nick Kang. The story here quite a grande cliché, where your father was a cop all right and he got killed while chasing a drugs case and now you got to find out what happened to him etc etc while pulling out this huge drugs, money etc etc case which involves the Chinese and the Russian mafia and the North Korean army (!)... Ahhh! Always those Russians... Anyways, it's nothing you never heard of before. A classic Charles Bronson - Clint Eastwood style tale, only starring a guy in his late twenties, early thirties.
OK, best part of the game is the kinematics. They simply rule! Very well directed and set, the cut scenes are brilliant to watch. And surely they are a nice addition to the plot of the game.
The game it self is quite simple in concept. You have a huge city area of Los Angeles to cruise in, modeled and laid out after the real thing and all you got to do is cruise from one point to the other (either in timed or free time missions) in order to begin your fighting missions and complete the episode parts. So a typical mission will have you ordered to go to a point in the city to check out something or to 'meet' someone. If it's not a timed mission you could always check out the criminal activity on the streets. The station issues distress calls about various incidents in your vicinity, from there on you can follow the red dot on your map to locate the incident, get out of your car (if you got there by car lol) and either solve this like a good or a bad boy. What do I mean here is that playing the good cop would be to beat the crap out of the poor criminal, or being the bad cop would be to start blazing your gun at him no questions asked. Whatever you do affects your reputation, so if you kill everybody without asking or showing a badge first will have you blacklisted in no time, on the other hand, if you do show your badge, some rare times criminals surrender on the spot. On the other hand, if a criminal starts to shoot first at you, then yeah let the guns do the talking freely. Of course, anytime you could walk the street and do some police searching on people to find either drugs or illegal guns on them. You'll be amazed when you'll see how many people are carrying a gun or some dope on them these days!!! As a civilian says here "This place has gone to hell lately", true! Doing such a street search arrest which turns out to be a success, is gaining you a good reputation point and some extra badge points. So finally you get to your destination which could be a level of 3 different kinds of gameplay: either sneak in, kung fu combat or a gunfight. The goal here is to defeat all enemies in order to get to the key person you're after and by arresting him (if he doesn't get 'silenced') he'll give you info for a lead, which will continue the story basically.
Of course you could always improve your driving, Kung Fu fighting and gunfight skills by visiting the appropriate training facilities on the map. But these improvements won't come cheap. In order to get an additional skill you will need 100 badge points (which you gain from arresting criminals). If you fail the test for the first time, then you need another 100 badge points in order to re-take the test. Succeeding in the test earns you the extra skill.
So the whole plot is divided in episodes, and each episode in parts. Thankfully enough you can complete the whole story by following a variable pattern of episodes, cause you can also choose the outcome, say that you get stuck in a part and there's no way you can get to it's end. Okay, noooo problem! Just click continue story after you have failed the level a few times and you'll find another way around to route the story properly. Ultimately you have to finish the whole story by having as many good cop reputation points, in order to see the best finish, at least that's what the developers claim. There are 3 finales to the story: A bad, a medium and the best (!)
The graphics of the game are very nice, not something spectacular but good enough to support the good vibe of the game and not bore you to death. Detail is kept to an adequate level all around, either in car or while in gunfights inside buildings and stuff. The 3D department here is not the best I've seen either but I think I'll let it pass, as it is not troublesome to your aesthetic senses. Definitely the graphics do have a more realistic look than those of GTA3, which had a comic book feel on them. Equally brilliant is the animation of Nick Kang, his crew and the civilians. There are some spectacular Kung Fu fights here, very well animated and choreographed, really enjoying stuff. Not all of them are so easy as a street criminal fight, but it's really worth the effort. In my opinion, the hand to hand combat is one of the shining aspects of the game.
Sound-wise, ehhh, we do have a nice selection of Rap and Nu-era Thrash / Hardcore soundtracks licensed from real bands like Genitorturers, The Donnas (they rule!), Stone Sour, Prototype, Dry Kill Logic, Static-X, Snoop Dog etc. and other than that there's only the sound effects which, as far as human, voices and effects are concerned they are good enough to support the game.
The BadOkay, the worst thing about TC are the controls. I mean here you have a plethora of actions and things to do, where it's virtually impossible to keep track of all the available action options, especially when things come to heat!!! This thing is even more worse than MS Flight Simulator (well, not really, but there are loads of controls)!!! Furthermore the controls layout is one of the most awkward, frankly one of the worst I've seen. And while the game is supposed to let you change the controlling keys to your favor, IT DOESN'T WORK!!!! At least in my freshly bought copy, in the controls options the keys change menu won't accept any other keys!!! I searched the web with the hope that I would find a patch to rectify this, but I didn't find anything. I wonder how the game was in the consoles cause there's an awful lot of controls. Honestly the controls really put me off on this one and I got really frustrated about them.
Regarding gameplay the cars handling is crap to say the least... I've tried to use the mouse as an option for steering but I would need a mouse pad the size of a baseball field to turn my car around!! Even in a high sensibility setting it just takes an awful lot of mouse movement and hand gymnastics to drive around a block. The driving extras that you get to unlock in the progress of the game only do a hint of improval, but then again where's the true driving that Activision claims on their lovely made trailers???!! GTA 3 is way better in the driving sections than this one!
Talking of cars and driving, the sounds of the cars just simply suck!!! Just get out of the car and you'll get a buzzing continuous sound from your speakers as long as you stay near the car, walk away from it and yes! You guessed it! That was the car's engine sound!! Jeez...
Another silly aspect of the game is the main character: Nick Kang. I mean, OK he does look like a tough nut to you (or not). He is a badass cop who's on the lookout for some answers and a bit of revenge. A bit like Maxie! (Payne). So he does have to be bad to the bone! So far so good. Why do they have to destroy his image completely by making him saying all kinds of stupid punch lines like "Hello, this is Nick Kang and I'll be your car-jacker today" when he hijacks a civilian's vehicle, or "Time to hit the road Jack...err Nick". I mean, his lines are some of the worst humor I've seen in a game lately. In fact he doesn't shut his mouth for a whole minute in the game, saying all kinds of silly lines and things, making you more angry. Badass cops do not talk much!! No wonder why Rosie (his team-partner) hates his guts! I don't thing this guy will ever pull a bird if he goes on like that, saying every ten seconds so STUPID lines! The only good line he pulls out is when having a Kung Fu fight sometimes (if you're doing well) he says "Man! You should be playing Street Fighter"
Finally the gunfights... I mean, what's this??? I've played better gunfights in other genre mixing games. I found the controlling of Mr. silly Kang in a gunfight quite awkward and kinda sloppy. And if you think that you'll be able to strafe left or right, well just forget it!
The Bottom LineHere's what happened to me with this game. I just bought it just because it looked cool on the box (marketing worked perfectly here). Nick silly Kang looked like a tough -no talking just shooting- geezer. There was this 70's convertible on the screenshots of the box. Well it all happened instantly: I thought, yeah! This is Driver revamped! I never checked out info about this game, just got it on the spot. And even if I did check I would read all these good lines "True driving, true fighting... The game of the century!"
Anyways, truth is, that there's a really strange affair I'm having with this game. Although I'm so frustrated about this game and it's controls, although I hate Nick silly Kang so much and I love it every time he (I) gets exploded in his car, I really do keep coming back for more. Maybe it's because I paid quite a lot to get it, so my ego doesn't let me to admit that it's 47 euros wasted lol! But surely this game has to offer a few good points as well.
One of them are the Kung Fu fights, which are very nice and addictive. I do believe that they are the strong point of the game as it is, simply because the driving section, well it just doesn't deliver the goods and gets really frustrating after all, and finally the gunfights are frustrating and sloppy controlled too. I really do believe that there's an urgent huge need for a major patch here regarding the controls in general, the car handling and the gun pointing routines.
Other than that, it's a nice game. It's definitely not THE game, but if you liked GTA3 and Driver, chances are that you'll like this one a bit. Surely it doesn't match the superiority of these two, but it has an extra goodie: great Kung Fu fighting.
So as a word of advice, I cannot really recommend this game due to it's high price, compared to what it offers. What I suggest though is, try it somewhere before you buy it. In any case DO NOT JUDGE BY THE GAME TRAILERS!!! Surely they are very nice, BUT they don't give you a clue about the controls or the average handling!