Sunday, October 15, 2006

Review: True Crime: New York City (Xbox)

Platform: Xbox
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Luxoflux
Also For: PS2, GC, PC
Release: November 2005

While on paper True Crime: New York City might sound like just another half-hearted Grand Theft Auto clone, in reality it is an underappreciated gem that borrows many elements from the “other” huge popular crime underworld series while still keeping its own fresh identity.

When True Crime: Streets of L.A. hit game stores back in 2003, it was little more than a third-rate Grand Theft Auto clone. Although it offered some intriguing and unique new features that couldn’t be found in the Grand Theft Auto series, they were all implemented rather poorly, resulting in a ‘jack of all trades’ atrocity that served no purpose other than for the shiny disc to be used as a coaster. Fortunately, True Crime: New York City is an enormous step in the right direction. While on paper it might sound like just another half-hearted Grand Theft Auto clone, in reality it is an underappreciated gem that borrows many elements from the “other” huge popular crime underworld series while still keeping its own fresh identity.

In True Crime: New York City you play as gutter-dwelling gangster turned undercover police officer Marcus Reed. The choice is yours: you can either be a crooked cop, accepting bribes in turn for not arresting suspects or criminals and blindly killing innocents, or be on the good side of the law, playing your job by its strict rules. While playing on either side of the law delivers an exceptional experience, it’s preferable to play on the good side because the sense of responsibility and the challenge of maintaining your status make the game more enjoyable as a whole.

While the Grand Theft Auto games featured fictional, almost cartoon-like cities based off of real ones found in the U.S., True Crime: New York City’s is a genuine recreation of the Big Apple. The New York City recreation in this game is massive in scope, but since it is based off of real locations and areas found in the city, it sort of limits the creativity the developers could have had (and that the developers of the Grand Theft Auto games do have). Unfortunately, as greatly designed as the city in this game is, it is not quite as expertly crafted as the ones found in the Grand Theft Auto series. However, the realistic style of it definitely sets it apart from the Grand Theft Auto titles, and you will be constantly embarking on sections and areas of the enormous city that you have never seen before.

The story line in True Crime: New York City, while admittedly poorly done, is actually enjoyable to follow in a ‘corny, cheesy, mindless action film’ kind of way. Although I’m certain the developers created this game in a serious matter, it’s definitely hard to take it seriously with it’s hideous dialogue filled with useless, excessive cursing, and many chapters of the story that don’t make much sense. However, while many of the characters found throughout this game are belligerent and forgettable, the main ones, especially Marcus, are memorable and are fun to follow along with. Also, although the story is hard to take without a grain of salt, the missions that follow along the story are the main meat here and are highly rewarding and satisfying.

Whoever put together the soundtrack in True Crime: New York City did a remarkable job of choosing fitting music and exceptional songs. The soundtrack featured here is large and varied, featuring such legendary and highly regarded artists like Bad Brains, The Velvet Underground, Slick Rick, Gang Starr, Grandmaster Flash, and Public Enemy, among many others. It is slightly disappointing to note that Activision didn’t bother putting in a custom-soundtrack option, but with a soundtrack this incredible most people won’t even notice. Also, the reason for a lack of custom soundtrack could also be for atmosphere and creative reasons, as the developers probably wanted users to play the game with the songs intended to contribute to the “feel” of New York City.

However, although True Crime: New York City comes off highly recommended, there are definitely flaws found in it, some major and many mostly minor. Like just about any review of this title has mentioned, there are glitches found throughout this game, but they all depend on what Xbox hard-drive you play it on. If you use an Xbox with a Thompson hard-drive, it’s hard to even get True Crime: New York City running, but if you enjoy it with any of the other hard drives (the Philips and Samsung), then you will notice far less bugs and crashing than if played on an inferior (and unfortunately, common) drive.

Unfortunately, confusion and hard-ware issues like this split the reviewer’s opinions on the title, resulting in exceptional high scores (such as the 90% awarded by Game Biz) to the supremely low (the, ahem, mighty low 20% by Digital Entertainment News). However, if you have the right hard-ware to play True Crime: New York City on, then you are in for one whale of a game. True Crime: New York City is one of most enjoyable -and sadly, underappreciated – action games of this generation and it is one that will captivate you ‘till the very end.

Rating: 9.0 (out of 10)


At 2:11 PM, Blogger gnome said...

Most intersting my friend! Great write-up!

At 10:12 AM, Blogger Tomleecee said...

Yeah, nice review. Never played it, but I had the first game, Streets of LA, and I didn't think much of it to be honest.

At 1:34 PM, Blogger Wedge14 said...

It's really nice to find and enjoy a game that is pretty much shunned by the public.

I've never played this game nor the one prior to it, but maybe i will now, its not like they would cost me an arm and a leg, and it probably be cheaper to buy the first one then to rent it.

But before i forget, it reminds me of this game i picked up for free at blockbuster called. Total Overdose: A gunslingers tale in mexico. Its not even close to grandtheft auto mexico city like it looks like. Instead its this hillarious offensive ugly mish mash of like 70 games.

Somehow it took me back to the nes days. Sure i couldn't get past the second level in like anything, maybe because it was my lack of skill or maybe it was because i was playing battle toads, but i enjoyed the games regardless. I didn't stop and say "man this games glitchy", or "the graphics are terrible!" I just played regardless and had a good time.

I miss that.

At 10:15 PM, Blogger Ross said...

Interesting, Wedge. You're defitely not alone in enjoying Total Overdose either; despite it's poor reviews I've heard of others enjoying it.

Like I meantioned in the review, the first True Crime wasent exactly anything to write home about, but the sequel is a huge improvement.

Thanks for reading everyone.

At 9:21 PM, Blogger Rosewarrior said...

nice review,i nevr played it.But im surprised how different your view and most other reviews are.This game got bashed like crazy.

At 11:08 AM, Blogger The Elderly said...

..time to look again... i bypassed it thinking it was a cash in... thanks!

At 3:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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