Review by The Whyte Fox

"I'm not impressed by much, but this game is nothing short of great."

Very rarely do I go out and purchase things without first previewing in some way, but from time to time I just know I need to buy something... this game was one of those things.

The game begins with you being executed via lethal injection... and then you wake up. A voice blares from the loudspeakers above you detailing that you were ''saved'' from your execution and promises that you'll be free before the end of the night.
As you leave, he instructs you that he wants you to kill the various gang members throughout the city... before they can do the same to you... and all this for the amusement of the voice known as ''Starkweather'' and for the purpose of selling snuff films.
Without telling too much of the story, overall the game is fairly story bare... or rather, I should say it's a fairly slow moving story. It doesn't get much focus until some of the latter levels, but this isn't a story based game anyway.

Graphics: 9/10
This game has some of the best graphics I've seen in a stealth action game, really crisp and clear, no visual glitches thus far (which is definitely a rarity). The rundown city you're running through is very dark and somewhat grainy... but fitting to what you're doing. The area graphics remind me of the movie 8mm, which also dealt in snuff, so that could explain part of my bias.
Of particular note is the alleged gore levels in the executions. I don't know what I was expecting, some of them aren't much worse than your average stealth game... strangulations and decapitations are more or less the same as Hitman 2 and Tenchu, respectively... but some of the more vicious ones surprised me with the level of detail.
When I smacked someone in the face with a bat, blood sprayed the camera and little skull fragments slid off the wall, I will admit I was like ''Wow, nice''.

Sound: 9/10
Aptly, the game isn't very musical. The music is, for the most part, of the ambient style, which fits quite well... the game wouldn't have the same feel if there was anything more.
There are a lot of voiceovers in this game, most of which are quite good. The various gang members will taunt you or curse when they can't find you and, with a USB headset, Starkweather will urge you to hurry up and make the kill.
The headset also serves another purpose... using the microphone, the hunters can hear you talking or breathing heavily, which can be used by you to lure them, or which could give you away should you sneeze or something. A pretty decent idea, regardless.
The sound effects are really nice, more realistic sounding than a lot of games I've played.

Gameplay: 9/10
Very smooth controls meant that very rarely did I do something I didn't mean to. Very responsive and easy to use as well.
The AI of the game isn't bad, and I found it really nice when I alerted a hunter and he started yelling for help, refusing to come search for me without backup.
The game is pretty difficult, but fairly forgiving as well, though I could easily picture someone getting frustrated with it.

Personally, I just felt I should go ahead and get it, so I bought it. I regret nothing. Fans of stealth games will enjoy this, but fans of Rockstar's other outlets looking for just gore will probably buy it, get frustrated and turn it off.
Not recommended for small children, more for the game's violent sexual content than for the gore itself.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 11/23/03

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