In 2003, Activision was the first to release a game that emulated the free-roaming gameplay of Rockstarâ€™s Grand Theft Auto III with True Crime: Streets of L.A. Two years later, Activision brings us True Crime: New York City, which technically isnâ€™t a sequel as it takes place in a different city and contains all-new characters. However, basic gameplay remains the same as Streets of L.A., but improvements have been madeâ€”or rather, attemptedâ€”to make the gameplay better. Unfortunately this â€˜fine-tuneâ€™ approach has backfired, leaving us with a terrible game.
In True Crime: New York City players take on the role of Marcus Reed who has joined the Organized Crime Division of the NYPD in an attempt to better his life. Marcusâ€™s father Isaiah is in jail and Marcus is being looked after by a cop who has watched over Marcus ever since he was little. One night, after visiting Marcusâ€™s dad, they drive off to a building where the cop, who has taken care of Marcus and got him out of the crime world, heads inside with a briefcase and tells Marcus that if heâ€™s not out in six minutes Marcus should come after him guns blazing. Shortly after his entrance, Marcusâ€™s mentor dies in a big explosion (caused by an alleged gas leak) after which Marcus swears to find out what really happened in there. The game has four big missions which are split up into smaller missions where you generally beat up thugs and interrogate their leader to find out where to head next to do more of the same.
In between missions there is the freedom to roam around the city and bust people, which sounds fun in theory, but in practice is horribly implemented. Players can roam the streets of New York on foot or in a police vehicle. On top of that, players can claim civilian cars to carry out their police duties. Via the radio, the police dispatch informs players about ongoing crimes and an indicator on the map shows where the crime is taking place. Players can also frisk random people in the street and if they find evidence on them, arrest that person and take the goods back to the evidence department or sell it in a pawn shop. Evidence can also be planted on civilians, although this reflects negatively on Marcusâ€™ police reputation.
Everything you do in True Crime: New York City reflects on what kind of a cop Marcus becomes. Busting people properly makes Marcus a good cop, whereas killing unarmed people results in Marcus becoming a bad cop. The idea of the choice between good and bad cop is interesting, but being a bad cop unavoidably gets Marcus killed because the police chase after Marcus if he turns bad. When the police start the chase thereâ€™s no losing them, so itâ€™s easier to accept the fact that they bust you, resulting in a demotion. Marcus can flash his badge to warn criminals about his presence and when this doesnâ€™t work, a warning shot can be fired into the air. This is generally the correct way to get a car from a civilian without being a bad cop.
Letâ€™s get down to business: the amount of bugs, glitches and general inaccuracies in True Crime: New York City is highly annoying. A bullet might fly through a wall once in a while taking cover behind it, Marcus might fall straight through the ground into a big void where he suffers a slow death, and the game might freeze once in a while, forcing a reset. Apart from these obvious bugs, character models are overly used and itâ€™s not uncommon to see whole crowds of the same character model standing near each other. The AI is amazingly unintelligent as well; for instance if you block off a running criminal with a car, he keeps running against the car and doesnâ€™t go around it to get away. When in a fight with a criminal, sometimes the criminal might forget his past crime and just stop everything heâ€™s doing to walk away like nothing ever happened. There are numerous bugs with textures and graphics as well, and even the scripted conversations sometimes get confused and come to a halt. Bugs like these shouldnâ€™t be in a completed game, especially one with so much potential. The game feels extremely rushed for the holiday season and unfortunately suffers for it.
Graphically, True Crime: New York City is uninteresting to say the least. The character models are blocky, the cars arenâ€™t well designed and the framerate is horrible. The game has constant hiccups in terms of framerate, making driving a car nearly impossible. Every couple of seconds the game comes to a halt for about a quarter of a second, which might seem nothing, but once experienced in-game it is a total deal breaker. The textures are dull and overall color scheme is too plain. As mentioned, clipping is also an issue when Marcus falls through the floor, or generally just has his feet swallowed by the floor.
The music in True Crime: New York City is the only positive point in the game, because it has been done by well established rappers such as Redman, Grandmaster Flash, and others. In the menu, a preference of songs can be made in terms of assigning zero to three stars to a song. A song with zero stars wonâ€™t come up during the random playlist when driving a car and a song with three stars comes up often. The music tracks wouldâ€™ve been an asset of True Crime: New York City that would have bumped up the score a bit on this review, if it wasnâ€™t for the fact that the songs often get cut off during gameplay and either restart or another song starts. Sometimes this even happens 2 or 3 seconds into the song, causing disturbance in gameplay.
It doesnâ€™t matter how you twist or turn it, True Crime: New York City is definitely down there with 50 Cent: Bulletproof. The game is unappealing, full of glitches and bugs, and should be avoided at all costs.