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True Crime: Streets of LA (Xbox) artwork

True Crime: Streets of LA (Xbox) review

"Imagine a kung-fu flick that has car chases, shoot outs and stars a cop looking to uncover the mystery of his lost father with gangster rap overtones. Now, imagine you could actually take control of this wacko combination and play it. True Crime is this interactive kung-fu flick, and itís as entertaining as it is strange. Which is definitely a good thing. "

Imagine a kung-fu flick that has car chases, shoot outs and stars a cop looking to uncover the mystery of his lost father with gangster rap overtones. Now, imagine you could actually take control of this wacko combination and play it. True Crime is this interactive kung-fu flick, and itís as entertaining as it is strange. Which is definitely a good thing.

While youíll have Grand Theft Auto (naturally), your seriously toned The Getaway and your kid-catering The Simpsons: Hit and Run, True Crime stands out as the outcast. You take the role of protagonist Nick, whoís decided heíll work for the police force in order to find out just what happened to his father, who mysteriously disappeared some time ago. Through your adventures as Nick youíll get to experience all the various gameplay types mentioned above along with stealth missions. How fun these are to you depends on how seriously you take them.

True Crime is, really, a childrenís game by heart, which is ironic considering the title. However, its extremely unrealistic action, improbable story and hilarious circumstances (at one point youíll go toe to toe against some local bums) defines its position. To take True Crime seriously would be to take your girlfriendís makeup kit and smear all of the ingredients over her face (nonsensical) and would leave you with the same result (an ugly outlook on the subject).

So True Crime isnít The Getaway. As this is true, True Crime is far more enjoyable than it really ought to be. All of the stuff you do here is by the numbers, at times frustratingly stupid and always a step below its superiors. But itís stupid, mindless fun. Who doesnít want to take out a gang member in a coffee shop? Or clear his brotherís martial arts dojo of street punks? The more ridiculous True Crime gets, the more entertaining.

To True Crimeís benefit thereís the option for a custom soundtrack, which is practically needed, because the licensed soundtrack really doesnít suit the game well with an onslaught of rap and nothing else. Throw in the custom beats to better suit the experience - like, say, Johnny Cash. Who doesnít want to hear Johnny Cash while performing elite kung-fu against thugs? Imagine: I fell into a burniní ring of fireÖ as you uppercut a thug into the wall and then proceed to pick him up and twirl him to the ground. Hey get rhythm! When you get the bluesÖ

The shallow gameplay wonít take you far; by the end of the game youíre bound to be just hanging in there hoping for another totally ridiculous mission (which, granted, is received). But itís this shallow gameplay that also brings the game down; mashing buttons without using your head is only fun for so long. Now, True Crime does offer combo moves and other such things, but playing intelligently reaps no rewards and you can just as easily mash; so why not? It thankfully has backup; the streets. True Crimeís subtitle defined everything you can do outside of the main missions - basically just solving crimes. Handling the vehicle is easy enough, though itís coupled with (predictably) unrealistic physics, and you basically get to experience more shoot out and kung-fu time while you attack and stop people who are robbing stores, jacking vehicles and brawling in the streets. Itís as entertaining as any of its missions, and it does give you rewards; it increases your cop points, or whatever you want to call them.

Cop points are another quirk in True Crime. You see, you donít have to be a good boy, abiding by the law and being a good citizen while solving crimes in a well-mannered fashion. You can just as easily mow fifteen innocents down on the road and go on a mass killing spree, which depletes cop points. You donít even have to solve all of the gameís missions. Taking this lazy, psycho route leads to several forks in the gameís story where you get to go on a detour and see another side to everything. It isnít nearly as challenging as being the good guy, and while it may just be me, not at all as rewarding. But to each their own; the game offers the options.

Everything down on the table, True Crime shouldnít be worth your time, but itís difficult not to recommend it because of the first half of mildly entertaining stupidity. It certainly isnít a refined work (as evident by just OK voice acting and mediocre visuals that donít quite reach the gritty streets look the game seems to be shooting for) and it certainly isnít worth picking up over more intelligent games in the same style like super popular Grand Theft Auto or even Mercenaries. It's a fun, funny little game that offers a mix of ideas that work fairly well together, in a chaotic sense, and you really canít argue with that. Plus, thereís that martial arts dojo, and you get to fight your competent crazy martial arts brother in it. Thatís badass.

hex's avatar
Community review by hex (March 02, 2006)

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