Review by Moochthemonkey

Reviewed: 03/25/04

GTA Theme? Check! Vast Environments? Check! Perfect Game? NO!

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is definitely my favorite game for the Playstation 2. It has everything I wanted in a game, awesome gameplay, interesting environments, and a huge amount of replay value. There are so many different things to do, some much tasks and extras to experiment with, that every time I play the game I have a unique, different experience. In True Crime: Streets Of LA, it is supposed to be a lot like the Grand Theft Auto series. You can steal a wide assortment of cars, there is an ENORMOUS world, and there are tons of places to visit and tons of comical citizens to interact with. I had heard from people that True Crime was a definite GTA killer. Therefore, I recently decided to play the game and see how good it was, and to my disappointment, it felt way short of both GTA titles. Obviously, those people have not played GTA.

You play as the oriental cop, Nick Kang, in True Crime. Nick has recently employed a job on a case involving Russians. Nick starts as a good cop, but when information is released about his father, it gets to him and he gets to his iniquity side a little. Many people will plot against him, and can he trust the people around him? This troubled cop will have to rely on his acrobatic martial art skills, his dead shot gun handling, and his spectacular stunt driving style. The story in this game provides lots of humor, action, and there is even a surprising twist as you progress through this piece. Brilliant story, but it is such a pity that the gameplay field could not match this aspect.

The game follows a certain style, walk around in the city and try to solve crimes, or sharpen your skills at one of the 24-hour training facilities. Once you are done with this, you will have to solve certain missions that have been assigned to you, or whatever Nick feels shall be done. The missions will vary with dreary hand-to-hand combat battles, intense gun shootouts, furtive stealth missions, and aggressive destruction derbies. The game will be a challenge at first in all categories, but once you have bucked up on your techniques and adapted to the controls, you will have easily mastered this game and anything will become seemingly repetitive. The game will make the characters have different stats and there will be a variety of different villains to fight, but pretty much everyone will have the same attacks, and well, you will no how to counter attack. Not to mention that this game is fairly short. Activision made such a gigantic environment, and I mean this place is extremely huge, SO USE IT TO YOUR ADVANTAGE!!! No matter though, the game is very cyclical like I said. Also, if the game gets dull before you beat it, obviously there is not going to be a good replay value. Of course, you are going to want to take the time to view a few places of interests, which Los Angeles certainly does have, and you with a few cheats you can play as a few different characters, such as the acclaimed rapper, Snoop Dog. Unfortunately, the game is lacking in enticing you to play over for gameplay again.

My favorite mode is when you are not in any serious business and you have free time to fool around a bit. Cruise around the city in the method of your choice, by foot or car. Eventually you will have to pursue in a crime. Apparently, there are dozens of crimes to solve, whether you are busting drug dealers, stopping street races, saving hostages, or even trying to locate the person that stole “Jay De Leno’s” limo. Approach the criminal stealthily, or he will run from the crime scene. Sometimes you will have to engage in a battle with a car. Blast away at it, whether you are zooming in to shoot out its tires or if you are trying to knock it on its side. Next, the criminal will run, or sometimes surrender. Arrest the villain and you will obtain good cop points. If the criminal runs, you are going to have to fight him in a clash. Kill him, and you will get bad cop points. You will have to engage in hand-to-hand combat, and knock him down and cuff him/her to solve the crime appropriately. Solving crimes and completing missions will give you badge points. When you are in a relaxed state, you are going to want to spend these points on certain things. Throughout the city are multiple training facilities, which is an importance. Here you can get various upgrades, whether you are trying to learn new bone-crushing karate moves and combos, specialized shooting skills just for the police, or if you want to learn a new fancy vehicle trick that is guaranteed to get the ladies. This is my favorite mode in the game, but it will get boring after a while, since the basis is the same thing repeatedly.

For some reason, I think the hand-to-hand combat bears a resemblance with the Matrix. Hmmm…maybe because there is a lack of control over your player? That seems to be the problem here. Mash a few buttons, and you will unleash a couple of relentless punches or kicks. If you are lucky, you may place a hit or two on your opponent, but sometimes they will block your attack and retaliate against your moves. You will also need to learn some professional grapples and forceful combos to finish off your enemies. Once you are done with some belligerent and flailing fights, you are going to have to pull out a gun or two for some massive gun shootouts. Your two handguns have unlimited ammo, so you will be firing away at a rapid pace. They also have a lock-on technique, even though the toggle and camera angles can be mischievous while you are doing this. As you progress through the levels, make sure to pickup other weapons, such as rifles and machine guns. I like the process when you have to take on enemies, even though you are just tapping your trigger finger hastily and timely dodging bullets. A few goons also will tail you in car chases, but usually your car is no match for your foes. Luckily, in the car, there is a lock-on feature also, and I especially like the handy tactic when you can zoom in on other cars and pop their tires out. You are going to have to watch out for innocent bystanders on the sidewalk or your status is going to have to take the pay. It does have a GTA themed gameplay, so if you are not a soccer mom you wouldn’t consider it that bad, but Activision significantly should have polished this aspect more.

Wow, the graphics and sound are excellent! From the character animations to vehicles to interactive environments, this is a definite GTA killer in this area. The environment is so HUGE!!! I wouldn’t be a surprised if this was actually considered the whole entire Los Angeles. It’s not like the same buildings and other components were compiled together either. You will see places of interest, such as the laid-back Chinatown, the prominent Staples Center, gorgeous beaches, and even LA’s own hectic highways! I can’t get over it. It could take months to explore every nook and cranny of this game. Also, what is an interactive environment, if there is no citizens and cars? There is a wide of array of real life cars in this game, driving all over the streets of LA. While there is mostly just luxury and middle class cars, you will see some sweet sports car also, which you will definitely will want to cruise around with. Of course, the sound is high quality too. Gunshots and car screeches sound perfectly real. Once you get in a car, a random rap soundtrack plays. But there is no different genre radio stations. I love rap though, the beats and lyrics in here is professional, and if you don’t like rap that is just to bad. After all this game does have a gangster theme, and of course rap and hip-hop will tie into it.

Aside from gameplay, all aspects in this game are outstanding. There is just one problem; once I have beaten everything, which took me a week, I really didn’t feel like coming back to this game. Not even to try to play as Snoop Dog. I feel that Activision could have definitely obtained more than my rating of a 7/10, if they considered making this game a little more replayable. Not a bad game though, I would still rent True Crime: Streets of LA , but you may be a bit disappointed. If you love the atmosphere, then it may be a necessary buy, but this isn’t worth anymore than twenty bucks. Rent it, buy it, or not, but if you have not played a GTA themed game yet, you should start out on a game like Vice City, which would be a wise choice.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

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