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Written by  :  kbmb (435)
Written on  :  Jan 28, 2004
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  2.29 Stars2.29 Stars2.29 Stars2.29 Stars2.29 Stars

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A fun game with lots to like, but it's just way too long and way too repetitive.

The Good

I've heard this game compared to Grand Theft Auto III and Max Payne, and in a way, I can see why. This game features a real "life means nothing" Grand Theft Auto III approach regarding casualties and features some funky slow motion dive what-not like in Max Payne. But it's wrong to compare this game to either, as its similarities lie only in style, and only a little at that.

I had little expectations for this game when I picked it up. I saw the commercials and it looked like another one-gimmick mindless console game, and it didn't get great reviews. When it came to PC, it got even more mediocre reviews, but I got it anyway because I figured it would be good for a weekend-long run. I was surprised at the sheer length of this game, and to be honest, by how entertaining it was.

Let's not be soft, here. The game isn't much, really. Graphics are so-so and by the time you get to the fourth level you've seen everything there really is to see. But there's still a lot in those four levels you come to appreciate. At least, I did.

The game is a third-person shooter, similar to oh, say, Grand Theft Auto III or Max Payne. Some things set this game apart from others of the genre by slow motion dives, taking hostages, unleashing your dog on bad guys (who brings you back their gun -- useful if you're out of ammo) and other really cool cinematic stuff. One thing in particular I enjoyed was the "disarm" action, in which you take the opponent's gun and shoot them with it in various styles. It ranges from the "I take your gun and break your neck" to the "I take your gun, punch you in the face and shoot you in the head" to "I grab your shotgun, slam the butt of it into your fist, get down on a knee facing away from you, put the shotgun to my shoulder and blow your head off causing you to do a flip backwards landing in a pool of your own blood", and there are several others in addition to that.

Another thing I was particularly impressed by was the sheer lack of value on human life in the game. The way everyone must die. You can take a hostage and use him as a body shield and, should you no longer need him, you execute him. You either snap his neck, put the gun to his head, or throw him to the ground and blow the back of his head off. This ain't Splinter Cell where you just knock'em out, heh heh.

Most firefights are really fast paced and rather cinematic to a degree. Slow motion dives, explosions, taking hostages, using your dog, and the plethora of weapons to really makes every fight entertaining, right up to the end.

And the cinematics are also fantastic, if laughably over-dramatic. Consider one CG scene in which Jack Slate uses the force of a motorcycle's explosion to throw him into the cargo bay of an airborne aircraft, gunning down the bad guys as he goes down. It's a real treat to watch, but you really can't help but chuckle at it all. The opening cinematic is also one of the best ones I've seen.

Some other plusses to this game include chapter selection, for chapters you've beaten, and the option to go replay "min-games" which include dancing at a strip club, weight lifting, and bomb-disarming. Also the game has a rather fun rail-shooter level.

The Bad

This game's got a lot going for it. Fun fast firefights, slow motion, great "disarms", a dog, guns, girls...but there is a dark side to this thing.

First of all, this game is about eight chapters too long. Just so you know, the game is fifteen chapters long. Not six, not eight, not ten, not thirteen, it's fifteen. I think I only finished this game just so I could finally beat the damn game because, like I said, by level four you've seen really all there is to see, and the story is lengthy and annoying at times. It's not really that the story is too bad, it's the number of plot twists that serve no other purpose than to extend the game one more chapter that really gets to you. You'll see as you make alliances with people who turn on you in the next chapter, forcing you to spend a chapter "getting revenge", only to make another alliance with someone who turns on you the next chapter.

Some of the features of the game were implemented so poorly. One thing you can do is lean up against the wall, and do a move where you jump out suddenly, gun at the bad guys, and jump back to the wall. But there are almost NO WALLS that allow you to do this. You can lean up against the wall, but most walls simply won't let you jump around the corner from, due to the angle of the wall, or some object at the corner, or something. That was frustrating, as almost every good opprotunity to use this move prohibited you from doing it.

The difficulty sure increases suddenly about halfway through the game. It's not like the bad guys are necesarilly harder, it's that they start spawning at all sides of you and Jack Slate has a habit of picking the most unlikely targets when shooting. The way you shoot in this game, by the way, is by auto-targeting bad guys and shooting, and the firefights are way too fast to be choosing your target. You just hope Jack picks the one right in front of you that would die in one hit, instead of the sniper way off on the clocktower you have no chance of hitting. You hope, but Jack Slate thinks he can do it anyway. As the game went on, and I started enjoying it less, I turned the difficulty down to help get through some of the annoying spots in the game, but that just felt like cheating, because you almost *can't* die on "rookie" mode. Normal difficulty is far too hard at parts, rookie is just God-mode.

Boy do levels ever get repetitive. First of all, as I'd mentioned a few times, the game is just too damned long. And it makes it seem even longer when some of the levels are just...argh. Let's say, you arrive in a large room with three doors. Two of the doors are locked, so you go through the one that isn't locked. You get in a fight, advance to the next room, get in a fight, advance, fight, advance, fight, advance, fight, and then fight some sort of boss who drops a key. So you backtrack back to the large room with three doors, but all the bad guys have returned! So you fight, backtrack, fight, backtrack...and then you do the exact same thing for the second door. Now you have a third key. Fight, backtrack, fight...and then when you arrive back at the large room, you have to get in a HUGE fight and fight an even bigger boss, and then go through the third door, fight, advance, fight, advance, fight, advance...and then finally fight the end-boss and finish the level. One horribly annoying level was a docks level, I believe, in which you go from indoors to outdoors, to indoors, and so on for what feels like an eternity.

There are also way too many characters in this game, which means there are way too many bosses, and most are pretty insignificant and they don't really have much depth. I can understand the greedy mayor, the prisoner guy who wants revenge, and the evil ex-partner, but the others are just pointless. There's some Yakuza girl who helps you out for seemingly no reason, the ex-boxer, the "twins", some crazy guy with a hat. Many more, none too memorable.

The Bottom Line

All in all, it was a fun game, but just went on way too long. At least toward the end you're treated to a lot of great CG scenes, and the firefights are pretty fun, but the game's difficulty increases way too much toward the end, the characters aren't very memorable, levels are hideously repetitive and targeting seriously needs work.

But still, there are great parts of the game. Fighting a bunch of clowns in a cemetary, throwing one to the ground and blow his head off with a shotgun, or the many hilarious and over-the-top disarms.

I'd recommend it. It's got enough in it to be a fun game. Just don't expect it to be a "weekend rental" because it's a lot longer than you think.