|True Crime: New York City (2005)
Available for: PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube
Another day, another free-roaming, hyper-violent “Grand Theft Auto”-influenced game. For all the groundbreaking style that "GTA" has brought to video games, it unfortunately has also brought a lot of clones with it as well. Now everyone wants a piece of gritty urban action with a big soundtrack, adult themes, and enough explicit violence to make any parent wary of what their kids are playing. Like always, though, the competitors rarely, if ever, improve upon the original. And if you need further proof, then just play “True Crime: New York City.”
In this edition of the “True Crime” series, the player controls Marcus Reed, a NYC street cop who used to be a hood. After being bailed out by his dad’s friend on the force a few times too many (papa’s a big time in the jailhouse himself; a big thug with a pimped out cell and all that crap), Marcus joins the force to help clean up the streets. However, he gets that taste for revenge in his mouth when his mentor is blown up real good during a case. It’s here where the player can hit the streets and be a good cop or a bad cop, or the basic mix of the two, depending on what actions are taken and how situations are handled. Oh, the reality.
And of course, it’s all been done before and much better. There’s something about this game that just looks ugly. Ugly as in not too much time was taken with ironing out graphical glitches and the like. Lots of pop-ins, dropped frame rates, and just a chunky look all over makes “True Crime: New York City” not much fun to look at. There’s also one of the worst AI systems in place for a game of this type. You’ll have more than enough time to beat up the crooks, as they all just seem to hover around Marcus, not really sure what to do. Oh, and then there was the great disappearing trick. On one mission where I was chasing down some criminals on foot after a routine holdup, one of them literally disappeared into the street. Not in the subway, but in the street. Nice work, Activision.
There are a few interesting bits of play here, like getting to pad down bad guys and/or arrest them, and searching through cars is kind of new, but all in all, it’s nothing no one’s really not already played before. This is truly a game that feels worn out due to its same old, same old fighting system, expected foul language from the characters that adds nothing to anything here, and car chases that feel as klutzy as those first experienced in the first “Driver” game all those years ago. Oh sure, you can upgrade vehicles and that kind of thing, but even that doesn’t make up for the boring qualities that “True Crime” embodies so boldly.
You’d also think that any game with Christopher Walken doing some voice acting would be cool. And you’d be right, if it were any other game than this. Even Walken comes off as wooden here, probably a first for his career, but hey, since so many celebs like to lend their vocal talents to games these days, why not, right? Bah. There’s also an expected ton of rock, punk, rap, and hip hop tracks here to make you think, “Wow, this game has a lot of great songs,” but the reality is so many great songs have never been wasted on such a lame game.
So perhaps we can finally put this whole genre to bed and move along now. It’s doubtful that will happen, but it’s definitely time. There’s no reason a game this hackneyed and predictable should have received the green light, no matter how well New York City and all its streets were recreated in the game. A giant, accurate map doesn’t make a bit of difference when the game play doesn’t capture your attention. The only crime committed with this game is the time it stole away from me that cannot be reclaimed.