Often imitated. Never duplicated. True Crime wants to be a GTA knock off with True Fightng, True Driving and True Shooting. But in reality, a Truly lame, completely inept camera will have you struggling just to see what the hell is going on rather than targeting an enemy. You should know right away that the horrid camera work in this game kills what could have been the GameCube’s answer to the Grand Theft Auto series.
True Crime: Streets of LA is brought to you by Snoop Dogg wearing Puma clothes and blasting over 1 billion licensed West Coast rap tunes. As evidenced by the myriad Tony Hawk titles, Activision is all about ho’ing out their games. I have to admit that I was a bit turned off that before True Crime was even released it made headlines by the licensing frills, rather than the title's gameplay... although now we know why.
Most Dojo Disciples know that I’ve been screaming from the rooftops for the GameCube to grow up for the longest time. But I refuse to give a game like True Crime or BMXXX a good score just because it’s targeted to my age group. In keeping with my criteria, the game has to be worth your hard earned dollars and True Crime is definitely not. This game is a True Rental.
Seriously though, Luxoflux has done a great job of bringing Los Angeles to the gamer. Not to mention that your character, much like most native LA residents, will have the opportunity to destroy each and every part of the city because the environments are destructible and interactive! It’s like the Lakers winning the championship every day in True Crime: Streets of LA!
You will see the same civilians repeating themselves a little too often, and no, someone isn’t manipulating the matrix; it’s just Luxoflux cheesing off. Also, you’ll find that the traffic in the inner city is just enough to keep you on your toes when driving. Yes, it isn’t has busy as real LA but if it were, you’d be in gridlock. How the hell is that fun? So to the reviewers that bitched about traffic, smarten up.
The palette, which was a problem with GTA III is well thought out here and is a nice middle point between Vice City's too bright and GTA III's too dark. Animations, however, are weak. In particular I found only the grapples and throws to look okay, while the rest of the fighting seemed to be missing a few frames. The quality of the score during the cut scenes is movie quality. In fact the cut scenes are all really well done in general and they keep you playing through the story since the camera actually works during these scenes. I guess when you’re spoiled with excellent 3rd person graphics from Eternal Darkness and Prince of Persia you get a bit picky!
The biggest turd laid in this game is undoubtedly the completely useless camera system that will have you begging for the buggy Mario Sunshine cam like a crack head hunting for a fix. It bothers me a lot when I feel that I not only have to fight the enemies on screen but the game designers themselves. Getting locked on a particular enemy and then having the camera swing so badly behind a crate that you can only see yourself affects this game play experience so greatly that it flat out ruins it. On the streets, you’ll hear a crime taking place near by but you’ll be spinning like an astronaut in a G force machine until you can actually see where the trouble is. Luxoflux, I know the realities of deadlines and the upcoming holiday season, but more polish and basically some functionality would’ve saved this game.
All of the sound effects and audioscape are well placed. You’ll hear all kinds of bullets whipping around you, as well as screams, tire screeches and general mayhem. Well done.
Now for the most significant audio element, the voice work. Unlike Nintendo’s silent film attitude toward games, Activision and Luxoflux opted to stack the deck with voice talent. Including, but not limited to, the freakiest dude ever made in Christopher Walken (“the ice is gonna’ BREAK”—from Dead Zone). His lines add his unique touch to the game, which is definitely a cool feeling. And there are a ton of other voice talents who grace the game as well. The problem with the voice acting isn’t the talent, it’s the lines! I’ve heard better dialogue in a porno. Seriously. The script and the storyline are so B movie that it’s like listening to fingernails down a chalk board at times.
N.B. All of you Miyamoto fans out there be warned, there is course language throughout this game! For the love of Pikmin… NO!
Sidenote—Gary Oldman rocks!
The idea here is that you have to pursue the bad guys and how you do so affects your cop Karma. Every action affects the branching storyline of the game. For instance, if you kill an under boss, you lose his potential source of information and the storyline shifts. If you just kill everything that moves your cop karma suffers and eventually, your civil unrest meter will top out and you will become the hunted because SWAT will be on your ass. No wonder Nintendo allowed this game through. If you ask me, it’s a lot more fun being Tommy Vercetti and breaking the law rather than being a “rogue” bad ass who still must uphold the law because of his father’s death.
You can also earn shields by completing objectives on your random crime radar which boost your karma and allow you to train more. The more you train, the better you become at non-lethal persuasion either via aiming for shins or using knock out punches. The less killing force you use, the more your cop karma increases. While it isn’t necessary to perform tasks to get through the game’s “episodes,” it will make for a better experience as RESTRAINT when apprehending a criminal and doing just about anything is definitely rewarded in this game. (AGAIN: No Wonder Nintendo approved this title). Because the game urges you in an open way to go through its progressions which add to an overall branching story and that’s how True Crime really differs (in a Elton John type of way) from GTA.
Another comparison. In Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto, there is an auto-aiming feature that is a clunky system, which feels like aiming a tank. Unfortunately, Luxoflux Corp. has committed the same sin. My interpretation of auto aiming goes back to Goldeneye where if you aimed in a general area you hit a shoulder or headshot. Here, the camera locks onto a character and God help you if he runs behind something because you can’t see him and yet you’re locked onto him. Not to mention if there are other baddies in the room, you’re focus is stuck.
You can go through the training exercises to more precisely aim your shots and prevent fatalities (important for copper Karma) but I definitely think that Luxoflux had an opportunity here to make a better targeting system than the clunky one in GTA. While they made a more accurate targeting system with the ability to shoot out legs and hands I don’t think that they made a more intuitive system.
You will find that the game play has attempted a Miyamoto feel to it whereby you have to earn new moves by training rather than being given all of the moves upfront. However, the things that you upgrade like double aiming seem kind of automatic and the fighting system, no matter how much Activision claims that it is revolutionary, is button-mashing crud so the new combos that you earn don’t seem to matter unless it’s to subdue an enemy.
Overall, the game play experience of True Crime is just ruined by the frustrating camera system. You’ll be stuck behind crates, circling the streets for the rape in progress and just wanting to give up like a real LA cop would in no time. And although Luxoflux has tried to add on all of these dynamics of 24/7 training, episodes, badges, karma and extras it’s really just sugar on shit because the game’s camera system and fidgety game play (e.g. Shooting reticule & button mashing fighting) ruin the experience.
For example, no matter how deep the features are or how many hot dog prices you can set, if Madden didn’t play well and you couldn’t see the field of play it would suck.
True Crime works like Knights of the Old Republic in terms of character development and especially with the whole good vs. bad spirit levels. You can be evil or good but the repercussions are many and you have the freedom to choose which works for you. However, because of certain issues with the camera and game play I can only recommend that you rent this title before you consider buying it. And that’s for shizzle my Dojo Discipe-izzles!