Summary: “Treat your gun like a woman – hold it firmly in your hands; take aim at what you want, and then… fire off a few rounds into your target.”
-George, voiced by Hollywood actor Christopher Walken in True Crime: The Streets of LA.
After facing some delays, as most games usually do, True Crime made its second E3 appearance in 2003. The game still carried its “mix of Max Payne and Grand Theft Auto” flavor, but was obviously much closer to release.
True Crime finally hit stores (and the Streets of LA) in November, and we’ve played it all to find out if it’s more than what met our eye.
All 240 Square Miles
As the name suggests, True Crime takes place in Los Angeles. While I do not live in La La Land, the game’s rendition of the City of Angels seems to be fairly accurate. You probably won’t be able to find your favorite neighbourhood game store, but all streets, avenues, and freeways are accurately named and mapped out in relation to each other. My LA experience is mostly limited to the yearly E3 experience, and surely enough, I was able to navigate my way down to downtown Los Angeles to find the convention center, right where it should be, next to the Staples Center. Too bad the Lakers weren’t playing.
True Crime: Streets of LA is a mix of four gameplay types: driving, shooting, sneaking, and fighting. The fighting is your standard beat-em-up variety with a buttons devoted to punches, kicks, jump kicks, and grapples. Sneaking just involves moving from point A to point B without being detected. While any third person action game where the main character wields two guns at a time is immediately compared to Max Payne, the only similarities to our favorite New York cop (aside from the dual guns) are the slow-motion shoot dodges.
Xbox, GC, PS2
Single Syllable Cop
Like his fellow law enforcement officers Max Payne and Jack Slate, True Crime’s protagonist also features a single syllable first and last name – Nick Kang. He’s a cop with a history of haywire, and after being suspended indefinitely by the police force for excessive violence and property, he’s recruited by Elite Operations Division (E.O.D.) as their first field agent.
True Crime Fighter
E.O.D. or LAPD, Nick Kang can spend the entire day trying around town and ‘solving’ crimes. Think of it as a reverse Grand Theft Auto, where instead of running around and committing random acts of senseless violence, you are alerted to such acts and can then proceed to arrest or “defeat” (i.e., kill) the criminal. Arresting muggers, settling domestic disputes, chasing down car thieves will reward you points and badges (to boost your good cop/bad cop rating), but won’t do much to help you advance through the game. Though, you can redeem your earned points for upgrades to your fighting, driving, and shooting skills as well as get you new fighting moves, faster cars, and bigger guns. For the most part, solving crimes is completely optional, but doing so can make your progress through the story easier with better skills and can also give you a better ending.
Mind you, success is not a requirement to progress in the game. On the back of the box, True Crime boasts that “you never have to repeat the same mission twice” – and it’s true. If you make it through an episode successfully, then you’ll naturally be taken to the next one. If you fail, however, then you’ll be given the option to replay the episode or to continue the story. Different cut scenes will play depending on success or failure, but often you’ll end up at the same place regardless. There are key missions where if you fail, you’ll be sent on a different branch of the story which will result in a different ending. So, the main incentives in playing missions over again are to gain access to more upgrades and to get the best ending.
Hitting a Girl
Fortunately, the successful completion of an episode also unlocks the ‘failure’ cut scenes and story branches, so you can go back and explore those alternate realities after you’re through with being a good cop. Even if you beat the game with the best ending, you’ll have good reason to go back and play the alternate ‘failure’ paths as they contain story and gameplay moments not found in the ‘intended’ path. For example, the alternate branch for mission four includes an absolutely unforgettable True Crime moment: beating up a bunch of strippers. Yes, that’s right, Nick Kang walks into a strip joint, and before he knows it, he’s going hand to hand with all the lovely ladies in their bras and thongs.
Not that we condone violence against women. We don’t. In fact, we love women!
“Bring me everyone.”
Equaling the effort put into the soundtrack talent is the crew of professional actors providing the voices for True Crime. Just look at this stacked roster:
Russell Wong does a good job of portraying Nick Kang as a cocky, smart-ass cop typically found in bad police movies. It’s not fault of Russell Wong’s but the script presents Nick Kang as a pure videogame character. It’s not a bad thing though, as we are graced with such corny lines as “Oh shit! It’s dim sum time!”
Yes, there’s profanity in True Crime: Streets of LA, but it’s nothing new to anyone who has played any of the other games similar to this one.
SIDEBAR: Christopher Walken and Gary Oldman were both in the Tony Scott/Quentin Tarantino film True Romance, though they never shared any screen time.
The vocal highlight to True Crime: Streets of LA is Christopher Walken, who plays George, an old-timer cop and semi-father figure to Nick Kang. George opens and closes the story with narration, and provides both positive and negative comments when in a training facility getting upgrades. Walken’s delivery of his lines is perfect, and often hilarious. If laying the smackdown on strippers is the unforgettable gameplay moment, then Christopher Walken owns the most unforgettable quote in the game:
“Treat your gun like a woman – hold it firmly in your hands; take aim at what you want, and then… fire off a few rounds into your target.”
Yup, they have those
Sound effects? With such great talent behind the soundtrack and voice acting, the sound effects have a lot to live up to, and for the most part, they’re more than adequate. Punches, kicks, and gunshots are all delivered with a subtle kick from your subwoofer (crank it up for less subtlety).
The Dogg Father
Just prior to the release of True Crime, Activision announced that Snoop Dogg is an unlockable, playable character. videogame. After collecting all the Dogg Bones in LA (or entering in a simple code), Dogg Patrol mode opens up where you can play as Snoop rolling through the streets in a custom convertible, complete with hydraulics, while looking for criminals to take down. Snoop doesn’t get his own story mode, but it is still a neat easter egg.
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Or we could just play Shenmue II.
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|Snoop Dogg in Heat||Page:: ( 8 / 8 )|
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