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True Crime: Streets of L. A. Xbox

Published by Activision
Developed by Luxoflux
Released - Out Now
Price : £39.99

Over the last few years we have seen several attempts at making games seem more like action movies. The pioneer in this field has to be RockStar and Remedy with the Grand Theft Auto series and Max Payne titles being superb examples (not forgetting Mafia by Illusion Softworks of course) of just how cinematic a game can be. Others are now attempting to capture that cinematic feel in a game and one of these attempts is True Crime: Streets of L. A.

True Crime: Streets of L. A. (we'll call it True Crime for brevity) places you in the shoes of Nick Kang a 'loose cannon' who works for the Elite Operations Division. Nick is one of those characters who acts now and thinks rarely, if at all, about the consequences of his actions, which usually end up causing somebody else a whole load of grief. As you can imagine this makes him pretty much unliked by the other characters in the game. In short then he's the perfect character to control in an action game. He's got his work cut out though as he takes on the Russian and Chinese mobs.

Because of the nature of the game it's inevitable that True Crime will be compared to GTA III and Vice City. True Crime is actually the other side of the legal coin with Nick representing the law as opposed to attempting to break it. GTA III and Vice City were open ended affairs to a large degree and both capable of taking months to complete. In contrast True Crime is more focused and actually quite short. Most of the missions can be completed very quickly. The game is split into chapters and each chapter has objectives that need to be completed before you can move on. It's good to see a variation in the ending though and there are three possible outcomes to the game which are determined by how you've performed.

During the game you get to drive about in hot pursuit of criminals, take part in Kung Fu style combat and have shoot outs with various enemies. None of these modes feel completely comfortable to be honest. The shooting feels wooden, the unarmed combat feels stale and the driving controls are just plain awkward. Rather than use the right and left triggers to accelerate and brake, the developers went for a non-intuitive control scheme. The times I've pulled the left trigger to slow down (like in every other Xbox driving game) only to see Kang fly out of the car (and yes he can steal any car he wants only here it's called commandeering) is bordering on the ludicrous.

Graphically True Crime looks OK but there are several issues with the most noticeable being performance. Driving around looks good and is definitely more detailed than the PlayStation 2 version of GTA III and Vice City. However the framerate is far from smooth and there is a definite jerkiness during the driving sections that isn't present during the 'out of car' moments. This can lead to poor control whilst driving which simply isn't ideal when you are in hot pursuit of criminals. The character models are best described as average and are certainly below what you would expect for an Xbox title.

You'll be pleased to know that True Crime is subtitled and that you'll be able to follow the plot without any trouble at all. The text is actually quite large, even on a small television, and is very easy on the eyes. Whilst the main plot is subtitled the character comments made during shootouts and radio communications are not subtitled. Thankfully though if you receive radio orders whilst driving around although the actual radio message isn't subtitled, you'll still get the updated objective shown at the bottom of the screen, so you won't be unaware of what to do.

True Crime has been dragged down with more than it's fair share of niggles. The control system, particularly when driving just doesn't feel right. The jerky framerate whilst driving is also inexcusable. The game has actually locked up on me on the odd occasion too whilst driving around, which is never a good sign. Essentially the gameplay is average and whilst it's good to see the game subtitled it's a shame that the developers haven't gone the whole hog and subtitled everything and not just the cutscenes.

Overall Game Rating: 5.0/10
Distinctly average with a few issues to boot. True Crime: Streets of L. A. is the game that could have been so much more.

Deaf Gamers comment:
The game is subtitled (although not fully) and you'll always be aware of what you have to do.