True Crime: New York City Review

It’s been a little difficult recently to avoid seeing some sort of advertisement for True Crime: New York City. Billboards, posters, busses, and of course television have all been used extensively to push the game, and one can only guess the size of the marketing budget behind it all. Too bad they didn’t spend more of that money on the game’s development, or at least on its testing. Or maybe the marketing blitz is an attempt to get people to feel compelled to buy the game sight unseen. Well don’t believe the hype. True Crime is a bit of a mess, both in terms of gameplay and outright bugs, and a game that you’ll probably want to avoid or at the very least rent before plunking down hard-earned cash that could be better spent on a more enjoyable game.

In True Crime you are Marcus Reed, a gang banger who has left one too many bloodbaths behind for his family friend of a cop to sweep under the rug for him. So you decide to become a cop instead. Alrighty, you are now a cop taking gangs down in fiery bloodbaths. The more things change, the more they stay the same, or something like that I suppose. The story is nothing particularly memorable or even that original, but the fact that the story may be the strong point in the game is saying a lot.

True Crime is one of those Grand Theft Auto inspired games that takes place in a living, breathing city, in this case Manhattan. To its credit, the game does create a reasonable facsimile of Manhattan, complete with all of its streets and landmarks. The luster from the game’s real-world location is somewhat dulled by the game’s fuzzy textures and generally blurred look, though. As is now standard for these types of games, the streets are filled with traffic and the sidewalks with pedestrians. However, there are not that many different cars in the game and just as few character models for the pedestrians, making the city seem more like a place out of the Twilight Zone than a borough of New York City. You’re free to follow the storyline missions, take on side missions, stop crime in general, or just drive around the city exploring.

The game has you fighting crime both on foot and behind the wheel of a car. You can pick any car you want to drive right off the streets, although rather than “jacking” the cars you flash your badge and commandeer them for official police business. Driving is a strange affair thanks to the game’s weird physics model. Cars seem to handle as if you’re driving on the moon as small collisions will send them flying and they corner like you’re driving on ice. Good thing that the game doesn’t really seem to care if you destroy a small part of the city’s infrastructure while on your way to a crime, or even if you take out a few pedestrians along the way.