True Crime: Streets of L.A.
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7  |  Remember Grand Theft Auto? Wouldn't it have been better if it was way shorter and had more dragons?
fishbulb , 11/25/2003 4:56:07 PM
True Crime box art
After the release of Grand Theft Auto 3, there was a lot of press given to a number of other games as being 'Grand Theft Auto like!' Most of the time, this was a load of crap. An easy way to hype your game by comparing it to something else that was cool and popular. None of the games offered you the kind of freedom and excessive numbers of side jobs and mini games that made GTA3 such a fun and involving game.
True Crime: Streets of L.A. was supposed to be the next game to attempt to topple the might of Rockstar's modern classic.

If they would have given it another 6 months, it just might have.

True Crime is ambitious,
if nothing else. The city of L.A. is recreated to a pretty damn good degree as the back drop for the game. The plot is your typical cop movie cliché, son of a good cop, murdered in the line of the job, who has unorthodox methods, but HE GETS RESULTS YOU STUPID
CHIEF! is brought back in after suspension to solve a big case. He even gets a partner, which of course he doesn't want and serves little purpose in the game, other than to get captured so you can have the obligatory 'save the broad' level. You also get to fight a dragon for some reason. Depending on how you perform as a police officer, you gain what are essentially 'karma points.' If you have too many bad ones, the citizens get restless and attack you. The game also has a quasi branching plot, in that if you are a bad cop you are lead down plots in which you go after the wrong bad guy and don't solve your father's mysterious murder. You can go back and do the proper plot by bringing your karma back up to the positive side. During some of the missions you can drive around and solve random street crimes and upgrade your skills by visiting fighting dojos and police gun ranges. You can also obtain cars from random citizens, but this is probably always going to be a last resort as the cop cars you can drive (and unlock) have a siren in them which is almost required to drive around the city.

Game play
is essentially like GTA, except that in most cases its better. The shooting system is more action oriented, with dodging and hiding and slow motion dives you can utilize with your John Woo dual pistol action, as well as precision aiming and body specific damage. Fighting allows you to punch, kick, throw and perform finishing combos. Its somewhat problematic in its targeting and hit detection, but its got some variety spice it up a bit. Most fights can be won by spamming low kick excessively. Driving has extra 'stunt driving' techniques you can earn as upgrades that allow you to turn on a dime and get speed boosts etc... for a kind of
arcade driving feel, which I found very entertaining. So all in all, the game play
is pretty fun, but not necessarily realistic.

I have few complaints with the games presentation either, the graphics run fine with only minimal slow down in some driving situations. The soundtrack is a horrendous collection of blinging gangsta rap, but
that's just a personal opinion, I can't really fault the developers for including music I don't personally like in a game. Well maybe a little. The voice talent does a good job with the material, the stand out obviously being Christopher Walken, who is the fat, kindly old guy who runs the police shooting range and narrates the story, surprisingly enough, he says some absolutely bizarre things like "you have to treat a gun like a woman, take hold of it firmly, put your target in your sights, and fire off a few rounds." I have absolutely no idea what that means.

There are however some flaws. First and foremost, there are some annoying bugs. Occasionally you can drive through a wall and not be able to get back to the other side, sometimes you'll hit a seam in a road while driving and your car will jump up high into the sky in bizarre fashion. The game is also horrendously short. It took me about 6 hours to fully upgrade all of my skills and 100% complete the game on the best possible ending. The game gives you the freedom to continue playing afterwards, mainly to stop the random street crimes, or if you wanted to, senselessly brutalize the citizens of L.A. Unfortunately the list of random street crimes seems pretty short, I think in my play through of the game I captured Flaming Eddie 10 times. It got a little old after the 7th. The plot also contains a bizarre chapter in which you investigate an old
Chinese guy who attacks you with hordes of zombies, demon heads, invisible fire women and a dragon. Not that any of those elements would generally put me off a game, but it just struck me as weird because it didn't fit into the rest of the world the game had established.

All in all, I would call it a good effort, fun and entertaining, but too short and slightly marred by faults to be worth more than a rental. 
True Crime: Streets of LA earns a 7/10.

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