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Reviewed: True Crime: Streets of LA
Author: Michael Ahlf       Date: November 18th, 2003
Page: 2
To start with, I'll go over the game's graphics and sound systems. Why? Because they're easy to get out of the way.

Bottom line, the graphics are fantastic. Rendering is smooth, environments are rich (and just about everything is breakable), cars show damage and take damage piece by piece. Sound-wise the game is wonderful as well, with a rap-based soundtrack that, while rated M, actually manages not to interfere with the game.

If you're on Xbox, you're doubly in luck. The game does 720P with Widescreen, as well as Dolby 5.1 surround sound. Enjoy.

Storyline-wise is where the game first starts to show some troubles, but not overly much. Missions are linear, but the game is actually multilinear; you can choose to ignore mission objectives, or just plain fail, and the game will let you continue on to the next mission. If you fail, however, the consequences of failure factor into subsequent missions, so the stooge you let go three missions back might pop up to shoot you later on.

Missions, however... go where you want, ignore the objectives if you please. You also accumulate good cop/bad cop ratings for your actions, and acquiring good cop ranking is the key to upgraded fighting skills, auto driving skills, and weapon upgrades such as the all-important faster reload.

The driving system (since driving your car, or whatever car you've commandeered, is the primary way to get from point A to point B) is not bad... just a little too restrictive. By that I mean, the lines of the lanes are very tight, conforming very neatly to the exact size of your vehicle. Fundamentally, this means that even when the mission is to drive from one point to another, the chances of a collision are pretty good, and not due to the fault of the driver but to the very, very unforgiving driving controls.

The AI... well it's dumb. If you're engaged in a chase, with siren blaring, the rest of the city's driving habits don't change at all, and pedestrians regularly walk right into the crosswalk as you approach. With modern processing power, I'd expect otherwise.

The game's greatest flaw, however, isn't the dumb AI, but the modes of fighting on foot. There's gun, aiming gun, and hand to hand, all three of which are pretty bad. In aiming gun mode, the character stands there and you have "full" control over the aiming reticle. Sounds great until you realize it's not tunable to your style of shooting, and that the control manages to be at once slower than it needs to be, and incredibly twitchy, such that lining up a shot is ridiculous even with a target standing 10 feet away, not moving.

In normal gun mode, you run around, with two guns out and unlimited ammo. One button is reserved for picking up stray guns (if you relieve someone else of one), one for dodging, and one for jumping. The aiming reticle sticks to one guy, but is movable with the right thumbstick. IF you can pull off a dodge right when the enemy fires, you'll drop into Max Payne-style shootdodge and be able to pump the target full of lead.

Then there's the normal fighting. Punch, kick, throw, and jumpkick are your options here, with targeting again controlled by the right thumbstick and circling/blocking on the left thumbstick. Fundamentally, you're supposed to punch when they block low, and kick when low, in order to dizzy opponents and set them up for a throw. Realistically, it's just mashing buttons and praying you land enough hits to win the fight.

For most of the game, you run around solving petty crimes between storyline points. There's options to draw guns or fire "warning" shots when approaching perps, as well as to flash your badge (left stick click + button). Again, in all my playtime, the chances of ALL perps on scene surrendering to a badge flash were slim to none; there was always one who would fight, and as soon as they were subdued, another tended to jump into the fray.

I wanted to like this game. The graphics pulled me in, and it was fun for a while. But, ultimately, it has the mobility depth without the fighting and scenario depth. Get it if you like GTA games, but it's no GTA 3 Killer. 

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Added:  Tuesday, November 18, 2003
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf
Page: 2/3

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