Review by eddybagel
"A Mixed Bag Indeed"
Being the negative person I am, I'm going to focus heavily on this games flaws over it's good points. Basically, all the good things you read in the other reviews are true, but are at times balanced almost equally by incredibly annoying points in the gameplay. For this reason, I scored it at 5/10, because the margin of enjoyment and frustration can be 50/50 depending on how you play.
The graphics are as good as they have to be for a game like this, in my opinion. Not too flashy, but you don't have trouble making things out and everythings generally smooth. On the other hand, during any kind of wet weather, you can't see a thing and playing any sort of missions becomes pointless.
Although I never listen to music in these games, I really loved the introduction of a classical station. It's partially just my taste, but there's something wonderfully surreal about gunning down waves of gangsters while Vivaldi's 'Winter' is playing on your car radio.
The story is bog standard stuff, but there's some brilliant dialogue and one or two enjoyable and memorable characters such as Johnny whom you meet relatively early on and will become very acquainted with.
Now, let the downward spiral begin. The gameplay, as previously mentioned, can be EXTREMELY hit and miss both with driving and on foot/in combat. The driving handles on a par with any GTA game, including an imperfect method of stealing vehicles, though it's actually far worse in this game than GTA, as you're character will often just stand around when you've pressed the button or run in circles. That's assuming you can ever find a car, which seems to be rather touch and go at times in this game. Most streets are empty when you need a car, especially outside the church you operate from, making getting missions underway initially frustrating, even before the rest of the 'fun' comes.
You will find yourself growing increasingly weary of all the other drivers in the game. Several of them drive so erratically that you will find your self crashing for no good reason at all, making missions like Insurance Fraud or chasing/fleeing extremely irritating. This factor could be largely attributed to my main problem with the game: AI.
Almost all the NPC's in this game are insufferably stupid, making missions that require you to accompany or recruit 'homies' intolerably frustrating. Nine times out of ten they will get hooked on an open door or a wall and just stick there, or they will constantly get themselves killed when attacking. Civilians will also throw themselves in front of your car for no reason, causing your wanted levels to raise unfairly, which isn't an uncommon theme in this game either.
A lot of the missions in this game are insanely unfair, not because they require a lot of skill, sheerly because you are bombarded by so much firepower and pursuers it becomes more hassle than fun completing them.
That being said, the combat is a lot of fun when it's balanced, and the mayhem activities are a lot of fun when they get in full swing, just be aware that as soon as your life starts going down you often die almost instantly.
So there you have it, my review of all the bad points in this game. I honestly can't understand why this game has received so many positive reviews. I understand that it's the first real next gen game of it's genre, and it's also the first competent GTA clone, but there is seriously a lot more room for improvement than just 'better multiplayer plz.'
Personally, I would recommend taking this review with a pinch of salt, reading the other reviews that gave higher scores, then weighing up the pro's and con's as you'd find them before deciding to buy or rent this game. I've already read through the guides on this site and decided I'll probably give up relatively soon because the remaining missions sound more taxing on my patience than anything else. Maybe I'm just a bad gamer, but I subscribe to the school of thought that as soon as a game becomes unfairly difficult, there is no fun in the challenge, you just keep coming back to see if you can beat it. When that happens, there's no point in playing anymore.
Reviewer's Score: 5/10 | Originally Posted: 06/12/07
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