|24: The Game (2006)
Publisher: 2K Games
Available for: PlayStation 2
“The following happens between season two and season three of ‘24’.” Terrific! Good news for “24” fans all over the world, right? Well, not really. Unfortunately, like some many TV/movie video-game tie-ins before it, “24” is just plain mediocre. A shame, as there are some elements to it that seem innovative, and the presentation of the game is ultimately terrific, but as we all know after all this time, presentation and pretty pictures are only part of a video game. The damn thing has to play well and be engaging, too. “24” is neither of these things. Not even the fact that the game’s plot was written by one of the show’s writers can save the day. Jack Bauer is up shit creek for sure this time.
But let’s talk about the presentation here. “24” looks pretty sweet overall in its aping of the show’s style. There are simultaneous multi-angle scenes, shaky handheld camera shots, dramatic zoom-ins, and the rest of the lot, just like on the show. This stylization makes “24” look fresh and keeps it apart from other games out there. Most of the show’s stars are doing their own voice characterizations as well, so yes, that’s really Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer. The voice acting is pretty swell overall, but we’re here to discuss the entire game and not just its pretty cutscenes.
So about the game…yeah. Well, sadly you’d be hard pressed to find a newer title whose controls are as ridiculously clunky and camera system as crapped out as this one. Yes, “24” is yet another game that suffers from one of those camera systems that doesn’t follow the action well enough and is a bitch to over-correct when it does fail to keep up. Jack will be kicking ass, and the next thing you know he’s getting his ass kicked because a terrorist ran by him and the camera failed to do anything but zoom in on Jack and leave him for dead. It’s not as bad as say “Kingdom Hearts” bad, but this is definitely one feature of the game that should have been worked on longer.
And those controls? Wow. Not very smooth at all. Chasing down suspects is a chore, especially when pressing the X button to sprint really doesn’t make you go that much faster. And finding yourself beat because of that and knocked over objects getting in your way, hindering your chase because the controls would rather push you right into the objects than around them. Indeed, running around doesn’t feel very graceful, only lumbering and klutzy. But have no fear, as the enemy AI is pretty much stupid in this game, too. The bad guys all have static pre-programmed places where they’ll pop out at you and do not sway from these positions, so just taking cover and waiting for them will do the trick.
If that’s not bad enough, the driving sequences have to be the worst this side of “South Park Rally.” Talk about chunky, clunky, uncontrollable vehicles. These cars turn on a buck fifty and all ride the same. Don’t worry about stepping on it, because it feels like the top speed on all the cars is about 50 mph. What a drag. Plus the graphics during the car sequences look dated and nothing better than a more polished version of the original “Driver.” Someone in the 2K team fell asleep at the switch here. I can’t think of another game from recent memory that sucks as much during the driving sequences as “24” does.
But there are some things that keep the game interesting. Players will not only have to shoot their guns and chase people, but they’ll also have to do their fair share of decrypting electronic locks, defusing bombs, and interrogating suspects. The interrogation sequences really do seem innovative and are a welcome break from the monotony of the rest of the action. Defusing the bombs is more fun than the decryption, which can pretty much be done by mashing the X button and moving the d-pad around randomly. A chimp could do it!
And therein lies the problem with “24.” Its game mechanics and camera are beyond dated. Its firefights and chases are something you’d expect to find from some budget-priced game. What little innovation it does have isn’t enough to keep the whole thing going. Hardcore fans of the show will more than likely want to play this title just to keep in step with the overall “story” but casual fans and everyone else can just pick up something better. Jack Bauer can hopefully just forget this day ever happened. Those who choose to play “24” won’t be as lucky.