Guest Author - James Shea
The sequel to True Crime: Streets of LA, "True Crime New York City" takes the main idea of Grand Theft Auto and changes some key element; for example, the main character is a cop, rather than a criminal, and the game takes place in a map that is based on the actual NYC.
The general story follows an ex-gang member who joins up with the NYPD to follow in the footsteps of a family friend, and simultaneously tries to escape the influence of his crime-lord father. The story progresses to involve corrupt police, gang members, and the mafia. Like "Streets of LA", the player can choose to be a good cop (arresting suspects, using non-lethal blows, turning in evidence) or a bad cop (killing suspects, pawning evidence, and generally being corrupt). This leads to two different endings, but not as many branches as in Streets of LA.
The gameplay elements are fairly diverse. The controls, to start, are absolutely terrible. They're complicated, they don't handle well, and oftentimes they don't go where they're supposed to. The range of activities, and how the player deals with a given scenario, is extensive. There are many random crimes comitted across the city to deal with, ranging from a stolen car on the loose to a gang showdown to an assault and battery. There are many ways to deal with these problems. A good cop dealing with a sidewalk full of gang members has to flash his badge or fire some warning shots before they'll cooperate; a bad cop can simply run them all over with his car. Good cops need to only arrest legitimate criminals; bad cops can plant evidence to boost their reputation for getting an arrest. However, due to the bad controls, sometimes good cops may slip up and accidentally break a neck or some other unapproved act. This limits the full potential of the game. At the same time, civilians aren't entirely helpless, either. Frisk the wrong guy for drugs and he might just decide to pull a taser or a handgun. However, in a lot of regards there is no penalty (besides a bad cop rating) for running over civilians or your fellow officers.
The graphics are decent to good, and the sound has lots of good licensed music. However, the main issue in the game is the lack of crowds. Considering that the game takes place in NYC, the entire city should be jam-packed, but due to the software and hardware limits there are only four or five people on a sidewalk generally. This makes the game feel like it's more ambitious than it can afford.
As a whole, this game isn't terribly good; despite a lot of neat attempts, the game ultimately falls short due to a wide variety of technical shortcomings. It just seems like it's trying too hard to be GTA, and this makes it lose a lot of the little things that it had going for it.