GAMECUBE REVIEW: TRUE CRIME: NEW YORK CITY

True Crime: New York City is a big apple just waiting to be shot into a million tiny pieces. by Cole Smith

January 19, 2006 - True Crime: New York City is a marked improvement over Streets of L.A. Overall it's more refined and the storyline is more relevant to the gameplay. The missions are varied to offer you a taste of multiple genres such as shooting, racing and combat but the crime-solving aspect is downplayed in favor of completing action-based missions to unlock information to guide you to your next mission.

Marcus Reed is a former criminal turned cop. He's out to avenge the murder of his mentor, the guy that turned his life around after Marcus and his crime boss father exacted revenge on a rival gang for a failed attempt on their lives. With his father in jail, Marcus has been exonerated and is now a cop working to clean up the mean streets of the Big Apple. He's street-wise and well versed in the use of weapons and hand-to-hand combat. Only you can determine if he's really changed for the better - or worse.

Thanks to the storyline the gameplay follows a linear path but does so in such a way as to make it appear natural and logical. Freedom comes in the form of side-quests which can be ignored or chosen for any number of reasons. You can complete various missions differently. Playing as the good cop or the bad cop results in very little consequences for your actions unless you go totally overboard like gunning down innocent civilians. You can pull off some pretty nasty stunts for money such as selling evidence at the pawn shop but of course you can always justify that you had to do these things in order to complete a much larger objective.

Throughout the game you will encounter lots of random incidents like muggings, fights, disturbances and so on. These will earn you various points which can be used to upgrade your skills, weapons and ranking but it's the big missions that throw the game into overdrive. Under the guise of infiltrating high-profile illegal activities such as illegal racing and fight clubs you will experience racing and combat elements. You can move in and out of buildings with incredible ease, catching the bad guys red-handed. There are lethal and non-lethal takedowns. The more bad guys you arrest the more you will progress in the ranks as a law enforcement officer. You can also acquire some of the weapons and other goodies that the bad guys leave behind.

Aside from racing, you can drive vehicles to get around the city. The island of Manhattan had been digitally re-created to include all of the main streets and landmarks. This is one huge city and will take a long time to get from one end to the other, even without bumper-to-bumper traffic. You can choose from a variety of vehicles including cars, trucks and motorcycles but you can also opt to just take a cab or the subway if you want to get there in one piece. The vehicles are just not very responsive and you'll experience lots of sliding even at low speeds. They are capable of lots of damage.

Having been to Manhattan recently I can tell you that most of the buildings are just generic filler; something to take up space between major intersections. Still, it's impressive by its sheer scale and when filled with pedestrians and other ambient animations it manages to deliver the essence that can only be New York City.

Once certainly can't complain about the range of options. The targeting system, for instance, lets you choose from an automatic lock-on to a more manual locking system that targets the enemy that you are aiming at. Switching to the auto lock-on you can move around more freely to avoid taking hits or moving to a safer location while continuing to fire with confidence. The combat system utilizes a simpler lock-on targeting system that automatically engages the characters that you are facing. Punches, kicks and throws find their mark a lot more accurately than in Streets of L.A. There are also tons of interactive items that you can hit people with or throw at them.

There is no shortage of bloody gunfire battles but at the end of each mission you will arrest a suspect and take him in for interrogation. There is an interrogation meter that calculates how cooperative the suspect is to your line of questioning. You have to show him you mean business by stressing him out with threats and/or violence but at the same time you have to offer a safe haven for him to confide in you. Get the meter to hit the center three times and you'll win a confession that will send you off on another mission. Fail to get a confession and you'll have to perform a side-mission for another undesirable to obtain the same information.

The only way the storyline could be better is if most of it could be revealed in-game, as a direct result of you obtaining clues and solving them. Instead, cutscenes reveal developments in the story and you certainly can't complain when these mini-moves are voiced by the outrageously talented acting of Christopher Walken and Mickey Rourke. The dialog is good but the way these guys deliver their lines makes it sound a hundred times better.

There are lots of background animations and New York is one huge map, however the character models are a little rough and there are some glitches such as clipping and some problems with scene changes that transport you to some very strange places.

The replay value depends on your willingness to go back and explore the big city. No doubt you will find new side missions that you missed the first time around. I'm not convinced a multi-player mode would even be required for a game such as this without resorting to some kind of hackneyed frag fest. I would recommend this game only as a rental. Although superior to the original, New York could have benefited from a few more months of polish excluding the cutscenes which are excellent. It's just disappointing that the rest of the game doesn't live up to the quality of the cutscenes. Perhaps the third in the series will be a little closer to perfection than the first two.

Features:

  • Street Cop Life: Bust criminals, take down foreign and local gangs, search and seize, extort, interrogate, and dispense justice your way - by the book or indulge in the temptations of the job.
  • Rule New York City: Free-roaming authentic neighborhoods, GPS-accurate streets and subways, landmark buildings, and countless interiors.
  • Dynamic Environments: Unprecedented environmental gameplay - use ovens, stoves, machines, coolers, pots, pans, chairs or anything else you can grab to pound enemies. Virtually every aspect of each city block - including people, streets, and buildings - reacts and changes based on your "law enforcement" decisions and ability to combat crime.
  • High-Speed Shootouts: Race through the streets of New York in shootouts! Pull off stunts with motorcyles, sports cars, trucks, buses, and more.
  • Brutal Combat Styles: Switch fighting styles on the fly, from street fighting to a variety of marial arts modes, opening up an array of moves and strategies to take down enemies.
  • Heavy Weapons: Use high-powered police issue weaponry, bats, swords, and other melee weapons, or obtain black market arms like flamethrowers, grenade launchers, and more.

By Cole Smith
CCC Senior Editor

Rating out of 5
True Crime: New York City (GC)
3.5
Graphics
4.4
Control
4.4
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
2.5
Play Value
3.4
Overall Rating - Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
Preview By Vaughn

Knock Knock. Who's There? Nick Kang. Nick Kang who? Exactly.

I liked Nick Kang and I liked the first True Crime: Streets of LA. More than anything, I thought it reeked of potential. Some people didn't like the fantasy aspect that threw a monkeywrench into the middle of what was supposed to be a gritty crime thriller, but I was okay with it. I thought Russel Wong owned Nick Kang. I quite enjoyed his tongue in cheek delivery as the rogue cop and I'm sure I won't be the only one who is going to miss Mr. Kang in the next installment of True Crime. Yeah, Nick isn't in the next True Crime. In fact, neither is LA. But don't panic just yet. We're sure there will be some streets and some crime. Those definitely made the cut.

Marcus Reed, one time gang member now turned cop is True Crime's new anti-hero. He doesn't take no **** and he busts heads, breaks necks and sucker punches all in the name of justice. Activision is being very coy in regards to the city this time around because you can win Marcus' ride in a Name The City contest over at www.truecrime2005.com. As usual it's only open to residents of the US. I'm going to say Fargo. It's got to be Fargo. Or wait, downtown Wisconsin Dells. That's a pretty shady city. What are the chances the city isn't New York? I mean come on. Maybe Detroit. Maybe Chicago. But I'm sticking with Fargo.

At E3, Activision trodded out aging porn starlet turned legitimate E3 booth babe, who knows a little something about "real" True Crime. She was making adult movies when she shouldn't have been (aka too young). A few people went to jail over that little boo boo, except her for some bizarre reason as she was presumably the only person involved who actually knew her true age. But it's not against the law for a 15 year old to have relations with an adult, but it is the other way around. She's the blond booth babe below in the single shot. If you ever meet her don't mention that incident as I'm sure it's a bit of a sore spot, although I can't see why, after all she didn't go to jail....

We didn't see any shots of the vehicles in True Crime 2 and we were sure wondering how those motorcycle physics were coming along... Let's hope Luxoflux worked on that aspect and we get to ride a hog in the sequel. Stay tuned for more info.

Click For Media
System: PS2 (shown), X, GC, PC
Dev: Luxoflux
Pub: Activision
Release: Nov 2005
Players: 1
Review By Cole

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best