If we were to judge this based entirely on the opening city fly-by, we might say it was one of the most impressive DS games we’ve ever seen. Streets, cars, skyscrapers and pedestrians in a bustling 3D rendering of New York, powered at a super-smooth frame rate by a humble handheld console. Amazing, we might say. We’re going to have some serious fun here!
Unfortunately we’re obliged to dig a little deeper, and we swiftly discover that beyond the slick attract mode lies a stunningly inept GTA clone.
Almost everything about it stinks – even the graphics, after you’ve looked closer and realised those aren’t cars on the busy road but weird little pyramid things that only become recognisable vehicles when they’re a few metres away. The lead character runs like he’s crapped his pants. The godawful animation system can’t even cope with showing him getting into a vehicle, and instead just warps him directly inside.
Pedestrians warp inside your car as well. If you drive along the sidewalk they just pass straight through. You can’t shoot them and you can’t interact with them in any way other than to make them yell at you. There’s one voice sample for men and one for women.
The cars drive like they’re on ice, and at such high speed that you probably won’t see the unbreakable barriers in the road until you get stuck on them. Your bloke can’t even step over a knee-high fence, a problem we could attribute to his aforementioned trouser disaster.
Go into the over-the-shoulder aiming mode and things take a turn for the worse. Locating targets among the murky backdrops and behind the large targeting cursor is tricky. You can’t tell if you were hitting an enemy until he vanishes.
If you think things can’t get any shoddier, try calling up the PDA thing that stores maps, mission objectives and so on. It’s an utterly diabolical creation that requires loads of counter-intuitive back and forth between screens.
For example, after you catch a criminal by bumping into his car three times you have to call the local cops to arrest him. Check the map screen for the nearest police station. Find the station’s name on another screen. Memorise its phone number. Dial it on yet another screen… Wow. Impressively awful.
Nov 20, 2009