You'd be hard pressed to find another review on this game. I don't know who published it originally, but I know that it was Strategy First this time. It's sort of strange, because you cannot find the game listed anywhere on their site. It's almost as if they're embarrassed of the game. At least they do have a link to Big City Games which has it in their game list... Though the info on it is very limited.
What struck me as more odd than anything else is that everywhere I look, I see the release date for the game is 8/12/03, which is roughly a week before I bought it. But there are a couple of (bad) reviews on other sites that say it's release date was sometime in 2000. This would explain why on the game's title screen it says "©2000" in the lower right corner. This makes it seem that either: A. The game was released in 2000 but got so little recognition that they decided to re-release it in 2003, or B. A deal fell through with the game somehow and it was never published or C. All the reviews just tore the game up so badly that they thought it would be more practical to just not release it, and now that the reviews are forgotten about they can just put it up on store shelves and hope that people like me will look at it and go "Hmm... This looks interesting" and buy it. I must say they did a real good job of making the screenshots on the box look good.
The impression I got from the screenshots on the back of the box was that this was some sort of cyberpunk 'The end is near' kind of game... It had been a while since I've played a game like that so I bought it, not knowing or caring what it was about or what features the game had. Once installed and started, the first thing I noticed was the famous Japanese girl advertisement lifted straight from the movie Blade Runner. I read a review somewhere that mentioned it, and said it was blatantly unoriginal and the reviewer continued to bash the game. I see it differently, as a tribute to Blade Runner which probably inspired Crime Cities' creation.
It turned out that you are an undercover agent who drives around in a flying car shooting things. Easy enough concept, right? This in a nutshell is the game in total.
That being said, I enjoyed playing it a lot. You start out with a bunch of people sending you emails that you have to read, or else it will beep at you annoyingly forever until you do. From there you open up your in-game menu thing by hitting the enter key, and in there is a weapons shop, a car accessories shop, and a job board.
The concept is very very very similar to the Atari Jaguar's Skyhammer (rare) where you take a job, you execute it, and you make money off of it. With the money you replenish your shields, and upgrade to new weapons, etc. And this allows you to take on more missions. The missions are for the most part varied, but 90% of the time will concern you looking on the radar for red triangles and going after them until they are all gone. Of course this also entails the much hated escort missions, as well as protect the sitting duck missions, etc.. The little variety here and there are things like taking a guy to a strip club and back.. There was one mission where you escort this guy out into the ocean and he's looking for a big whale that ate his leg or something. He flies around in circles for about five minutes and you get an email from a friend saying that the guy is crazy and it's probably best that you just take another job. I ignored the advice for about half an hour and got nothing... So I gave up. But who knows.. maybe just.. one... more minute would have done something.
There are three 'worlds' that you get to fly around in. None of them are extraordinary.. Each just a dark foggy setting for you to shoot things. The last level was my favorite, though. It was easily the biggest of the three, and the buildings were absolutely HUGE. At full speed flying it would take about 25 seconds to get above the top of the building from the ground, and certain other buildings were taller than that. This is where I found the fog to be most frustrating, because it's where it took away the most from the general atmosphere.
The graphics are poor, at best. The fog-in effect is way too close.. You can't see anything from a distance. It's very annoying. The game runs at about a million frames per second, with all video card and game features turned up as high as possible at 1280 x 1024. I guess this has much to due with the low system requirements for the game (200Mhz Pentium II, 32 Megs of RAM). The buildings are simple, in most places.. Rarely comprised of more than 20 polygons. The textures look good when you are far away, but when close up you rarely see more than ten colors at a time. The in-car HUD looks nice and clean, but moves around too much as you fly in different directions, so I had it disabled most of the time.
The other cars flying around make no sense to me... I don't know who they are (supposedly they are prisoners) and I don't know where they're going. Or why they're going. I followed a car around the city for ten minutes and I got nowhere interesting. All they do is get in the way.. And you can't shoot them or the police (also prisoners???) will come after you. I find it's best not to try to make sense of what's going on and just do the missions.. I'll like the game better that way.
Even though the box says something like 50+ cars to choose from, I only drove 3. I couldn't figure out how to drive different cars (even though I was getting advertisement emails for them) so I assume you can only choose more when playing Multiplayer. The Multiplayer experience of the game is a mystery to me, because I am the only one I know that has this game, and there is no game browser or GameSpy support. It could be fun though..
I actually liked the music. It's a sort of techno/trance mix that plays straight from the CD during the game. It didn't seem to fit it well but it was still good to listen to. The sound effects wont rock you out of your seat, but they do the job pretty well.
Flying controls were simple enough. W,A,S,D to fly and the mouse to point. What was missing was an ability to strafe up and down, but I guess you can't have everything. The Menu controls were difficult because it used the Enter, PgUP, and PgDN keys primarily. It works out because it allows you to fly around while the menu is still open.
Good for the year 2000, but not for 2003. This game will run great on any 'somewhat' current system.
The fog 'effect' really blows, even when the game is set to maximum viewing distance.
Good enough. Nothing really spectacular.
Easy, but not functional enough. Flight Sim fans would be sorely disappointed.
Surprisingly addictive. I had more fun playing this game than I've had with the last twenty games I've played.
And each of those twenty games got better reviews than this one did. Sometimes I think people expect too much.
The concept could be seen as overdone three years ago, but nowadays it's not seen.
So I guess it can be considered a 'futuristic flashback' of sorts. Fun to play. Not discouragingly difficult.
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