Considering the next generation has just hit, it probably wasn't the best time for a huge budget, high profile game to hit the Xbox. True Crime: New York City is a game that will appeal to many people, and offers you the chance to play on the right side of the law, doing some typical crime fighting, which as it turns out, is quite fun to play.
In True Crime New York you take the role of Marcus, an ex-criminal who has somehow managed to find himself on the right side of the law. After five years of the beat, Marcus is finally being promoted to Detective. While on his first assignment his partner is killed and Marcus has to discover what's going on. The storyline of True Crime is very fractured and split into many sections which gives the game a huge level of replay value and to finish the game 100% will take more time than most people will want to put in.
True Crime New York is played from a third person perspective and offers many genres in one with driving, fighting and action making up the crux of the game. Playing as a cop offers many things to do and also Luxoflux have decided to let the player choose how to play. You can play as a good or bad cop and your actions determine which side of the corruption bar you are on. For instance, you can accept bribes from perps to let them go or sell evidence to make a few extra bucks. Being a good cop rewards you with career points but bad cop gives you more money to spend on the black market weapons and features you can find.
As we said before the game is split into two areas. The main storyline where you secretly work with the FBI, and the normal side where you're a regular undercover street cop solving crimes. Playing the cop side of the game helps with the FBI story as you earn career points which can be used to improve driving, shooting, hand to hand combat and many other things. Also the game has multiple paths as demonstrated by the interrogation sequences. You have to manage the interrogation level well or it will fail. At this point you have two options, restart the mission or complete an informant's mission to get the information you require to progress. Overall there is about five main crime files to solve, but hundreds of regular crimes and missions to do from informants and the APBs sent out as well.
One of the most annoying aspects of the game is the amount of driving. It wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't so hard to do well. The game has a lot of traffic and while the sirens will alleviate this, not all cars have them. The best way to get around I found was via the subway and taxis which cost money but it's worth it. Otherwise you can spend up to 10-15 minutes driving from one mission to another which is just too long. Other than that the missions are quite fun to play. As mentioned before there are some RPG elements to the game with Marcus developing skills over time. Some vehicles can only be used with certain ranks and the same goes for weapons etc.
True Crime feels a lot like Dead 2 Rights and Kill Switch. Marcus moves in a very arcade like fashion and just walking in and spraying rooms with bullets only enhances this feeling. The actual structure of the game can get repetitive in that the main files are about five or six missions long and always end up with you either interrogating or killing some big cheese from the crime syndicates. There are a few twists along the way to keep Marcus on his toes, however.
The city itself has been replicated quite well and you will find many of the famous NY landmarks such as Time Square. However, around the landmarks are a whole lot of repetitive buildings and a maze of streets which is why the driving can be so frustrating. The only time we found driving fun was after coming across a high performance sports car but that was only fleeting as well. Perhaps this is one of the game's downfalls as well. The main feature of the game is also one of the problems. New York is a maze in real life and in virtual form it's not much better. With that said the developers have done a fantastic job bringing the city that never sleeps to life on the Xbox.
The graphics of the game are also quite well done but those buying Xbox over PS2 for a significant increase in graphics detail may be disappointed. Because the city is so large and has so much detail, some compromises had to be made. The buildings can be repetitive but those which are story featured and landmarks are significantly better than the bland, repetitive sections of town. You can lose yourself in the cities size and really a few hours can be added to the play value just from driving around, if you can put up with the driving engine that is. Sound wise the game is better with voice acting from some of the most famous actors around such as Walken and others. If you want a cinematic experience you will definitely find it in True Crime New York City.
True Crime: New York City could have been better but still remains one of the better action games of the year. Luxoflux have done a top job putting a realistic and interesting story together and the fact it's set in a real city that many can relate to makes it just even better. The driving engine is the only major issue with the game other than it feels a little generic sometimes but it is a game that is hard to stop playing once you start.