Game Review - by James Allen
Everyone remembers the flying cab chase scene in The Fifth Element. This serves at inspiration of Crime Cities, where you take the helm of a flying car and traverse around large cities, dodging around traffic and shooting bad guys while avoiding the police. Will this simple premise be enough to make an exciting and entertaining game, or is this just another blatant rip-off that is destined to fail?
Crime Cities features single player missions and multiplayer. It is evident from the manual that multiplayer is the focus, since only a paragraph or two is devoted to explaining the single player game. You are supplied with an automobile capable of flight and equipped with weapons such as cannons, lasers, and mesons. The missions in the single player campaign are available as you roam around the city, rather than choosing them from a menu outside of the primary game engine. In multiplayer, you can engage in deathmatch and team deathmatch. A sign of death for a predominantly multiplayer game is the lack of a matching service. You can only play this game over a LAN, or TCP/IP if you know the oppositions IP address. This means, if you are the majority of the gaming public, it's nearly impossible to find people to play against. It's amazing how much emphasis was put multiplayer, and most of the possessors of Crime Cities can't play it. Still, only deathmatch and team deathmatch? It seems some other forms of multiplay should be available, such as capture the flag. Just having two modes of play doesn't cut it in today's computer community. On top of all this, there are glaring errors in the manual, such as pages titled "credits" and "technical support" which have nothing to do with either. All of these shortcomings and oversights add up to one thing: a meager outing.
Sound is pretty horrible. The crux of the sounds are firing your weapons, the whaling of police sirens, and the very exasperating sound of your vehicle colliding with other objects. You'll grow tired and annoyed of this quite quickly. Your radio communication consists of a string on non-sensical jabber that has no bearing on the gameplay; everything of importance is conveyed as text. Again, a feeling of incompleteness abounds in the sound department: it's like the developers stopped when they felt that all of the aspects of Crime Cities were just adequate, rather than going that extra mile so many other games do.
Following in the tradition of the other components of Crime Cities, the gameplay is monotonous. In the single player mode, you accept missions to blow this up, deliver this, and blow that up. This serves to earn you cash to purchase better weaponry and protection for your ride, and thus it progresses ad infinitum. All of the action is from the driver's seat, with your trusty HUD and other information. Everything about the gameplay seems incomplete and out of your control. The radar is a joke: the range to important objects is displayed as the relative sizes of the triangles, which are either "small" or "large." You can lock onto various vehicles, but the tracking system is displayed as a series of circles, and just isn't effective enough. E-mail pops up too frequently, and mainly just serves to annoy. The thrust during driving works much like an airplane; however, your speed decreases every time you hit an object (buildings, cars), which happens frequently. Soon, you'll be stopped without ever noticing it and a prime target for the AI. The AI drivers are not very good, but the difficult driving model makes them constantly victorious. Since you can't see behind you (or to the side, for that matter), you'll be shot at by foes you can't even see. The bottom line is, Crime Cities is just not fun. The quirky interface makes playing the game just too difficult. And the missions are just the same thing ten times over: you will always encounter enemies, and will shoot them before they shoot you. Better luck next time.
The graphics are acceptable, but nothing even close to being stunning or land quality. Most of the objects become pixilated when you are in close proximity to them, and I wasn't convinced of the surroundings. There isn't much you can do to dress up a dark and forboding city such as the settings in Crime Cities, but something more could have been done. You keep wanting the graphics to improve, but everything is just too unimpressive.
Crime Cities is just yet another example of a good idea gone horribly, horribly wrong. In what could have been heart pounding, edge-of-your-seat action, Crime Cities mutated into duplicated mission play with a difficult interface, with ghastly sound and few features. Unless you are really pining for recreating The Fifth Element, Crime Cities should not be a location you should plan to visit.