True Crime is the story of Nick Kang's battle with the scum of Los Angeles. Like Hollywood, the script in True Crime has the same amount of cliches, star power and over the top action as any of the past years summer blockbuster flicks. Welcome to Luxoflux's Los Angeles.
From the moment your pick up True Crime: Streets of L.A. you can’t help the numerous comparisons to Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto series. True, the games are the same genre, but the both have enough different content to clearly keep True Crime from being a clone, or held back by limitations of GTA. I will explore some of these comparisons throughout the review, but I promise I will try to keep them at a minimum.
To briefly overview the plot, you could call it like any motion picture like Lethal Weapon or Bad Boys. Playing loose cannon cop Nick Kang in the Elite Operations Division (EOD) gives you the authority to go over the bounds of normal police to achieve the law, and Nick does just that. The plot is woven with typical Hollywood plot twists, reluctant partners, tough bosses and crime syndicates and their evil ways. It’s your job to clean up the city by taking whatever means necessary. Overall it’s not the most original story, but it does entertain.
The story of True Crime takes place in a real life modeled city of Los Angeles. The development team spent an insane amount of time mapping L.A., street-by-street. If you lived in Los Angeles, you should be able to recognize several of L.A.'s landmarks. True Crime gives us realism by using a real city rather then a fictional one, and what a perfect city to capture, Los Angeles the city of Angles and crime.
In this virtual city of Los Angeles, True Crime: Streets of LA gives us complete freedom to explore and search out criminals, seek upgrades and, or further the plot. The non-linear, free roaming feel of True Crime is perfect. At any moment you can choose if you would rather push the story forward or just cruise around the city enjoying the scenery. With cruising the streets of LA, either by foot or vehicle you will alerted too many criminal activities. It’s your choice if you want to help the citizens in trouble, and believe me all sorts of people are fighting, stealing, beating etc… in this city. These crime alerts can become repetitive, but around 30 different variations of crimes that keep it interesting. Varying from capturing an escaped cannibal convict to slowing down and arresting street racers burring up the road in their import jobbies. I had fun on every mission and it helped keep my skills homed for the big battles.
The story part of the game is formatted by a cut scene, player actions, and then another cut scene. It’s not bad, but it’s predictable in its delivery. It helps add more depth to the character and give the game purpose, instead of roaming around not knowing what to do next. The great part of the story is that it can change depending on your characters karma (if you perform good deeds, or are evil and kill everything that moves). Another great part is that you don’t have to be successful in the missions, to carry on the story. It branches in different routes with different cut scenes and objectives.
The action in the game can get pretty crazy with Nick Kang. There are elements of driving, shooting, fighting and stealth in the game. The missions will start out easy like tailing a car and progress in difficulty to chores such as shooting a enemy in a specific body part. The game really has enough to keep you busy for hours on end. The story if you played through it would run around 20hrs, but that wouldn’t be a proper experience of the game. Like Grand Theft Auto you will find yourself doing the main missions between long stints of causing chaos and performing your EOD duties.
Graphics & Sound
The graphics are surprisingly impressive due to the amount of objects and depth of game. I haven’t had the opportunity to view this game on the other consoles, but you can probably put your money on the Xbox’s version to look the best. True Crime graphics always seem to impress either during your journeys into the different parts of city or the number of different cut scenes in the game. Have the envoirmets indoor and outdoor intact with the character is a great addition to the graphics. These additions, plus the small touches in scenery give more life to the game and show off the great graphics engine in the game. All the car models and characters are good, stereotypical, but with enough variation in them. Overall I was impressed and this game proved that you can have a huge environment and keep things visual stimulating.
True Crime also supports 720p (which sadly I don’t have yet), so if you thought True Crime is great on with the normal RGB connection you can imagine the different with high definitions scanning.
As you can expect with a roster of top hip hop artists and Hollywood actors you’re going to get a good end product in the sound area. Some of the voices in the game are from actors: Russell Wong, Christopher Walken, and Gary Oldman. The music comes in the form of great artists and even features one of the artists in the game, non other than Snoop Dogg himself. I was surprised to hear mature language in the music, gives the game a harder edge. The citizens also have great voice acting; the sound effects of the weapons are top notch. The only part that seems a little stale to me where the fighting sounds and the engine variation in the vehicles. These are minor grips compared to the huge audio experience they provide in the game.
True Crime: Streets of LA proudly boasts that it’s not limited in any aspect of its gameplay. From driving, fighting or shooting, the game goes in depth in all its areas rather than just skimming by with limited options. True Crimes' involvement in these modes takes time to learn and discover, so at first glance things will seem more basic, but can become easily complex with more options then the obvious. Upgrading your skills (driving, shooting, and fighting) will become an important task as you progress through the game, if you want to stay alive. For example upping your shooting skills can make you learn to target two targets at once, reload faster or make disarming or critical aimed shots.
Another innovation to True Crime is how you deal with crimes and the citizens of LA. When a call comes through to apprehend a criminal you have a bunch of commands at your disposal before you have to use force. It’s totally up to you of course, but you can try and get the criminal to surrender by showing your badge, activating your cars siren or firing a warring shot in the air. If that doesn’t work then your approach becomes whether to use the fist or the gun. By pursuit in a vehicle you can take out the drivers by shooting them, their car, the cars tires or gas tank. This adds for some really cool chases through the city as you have to aim and drive at the same time.
Nick Kang also has the ability to frisk any citizen he feels like in the hops of finding illegal drugs or weapons. Frisking is a good way to get good karma if you find some hidden stuff on a person, but beware… too much frisking and no results will lead your reputation to head to the negative side. The game keeps track of all your actions in the game in an informative statistics screen.
The mojo is on overload in True Crime: Streets of LA. I can’t express how much mojo is loaded into this damn fine game. Never had there been so much packed into an action game. Breaking up fighting prostitutes! Chasing down criminals in the hood. Head shot, leg shot, arm shot! The action is pumped up and full of diversity. The graphics are great as well as the sound too. How you complain with a game that features Snoop Dogg and Puma. Its all about the marketing and it works. True Crime is the good funk! Rollin’ down the street smoking gaunga, sippin’ on jin and juice! Hallar!
If True Crime would have come out a year ago, I think this would have been one of the biggest hits on the Xbox, since we really need some GTA styled gameplay to cure those Sony blues. Unfortunately, the impact of True Crime has lessened because of the coincidental release of the Grand Theft Auto: Double Pack for your Xbox. True Crime is a great game, with an amazing production and an overload of content. It’s interesting, complex and simple all in its own rights. This game should be looked into, and on your list if you are a fan of free formed action games.
Gameplay: 8, Graphics/Sound: 8, Innovation: 9, Mojo: 10. Final: 9
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy -
GOTY AWARD: MOST MOJO IN 2003, MOST INNOVATIVE GAME OF 2003