And so the horribly ill-conceived 'urban' violence machine continues to spout out rubbish. This month's instalment is Crime Life: Gang Wars. And you don't doubt the street credentials of a game with the words 'crime', 'wars' and 'gang' in its title, innit? The story? Have a guess. Yup, small-time 'homie' (you) gathers a gang of violent buffoons around him in a quest to smash up and rule 'da hood'. Whatevvvaaarrrrrrr...
Putting aside the horribly misjudged shower of racial clichés and 'attitude' for just a nanosecond, what does the game actually play like? Is it a sublime piece of programming that transcends all conventions to break new ground in the fighting/ combat genre? What do you think?
Although in the press release they try to pretend Crime Life's main theme is that "The player must protect his own people from exploitation and abuse, and defend his crew from the violence and treachery that permeates the society he lives in," it's really about finding any old excuse for smashing people's faces in. It's spectacularly nasty, but in a strangely muted way - the kill moves are filtered, presumably to protect the 'delicate' urban 15-year-olds who'll buy this, but at least in those respects it's a fairly accurate portrayal of life in 'da hood'. You're given loose missions from the neighbourhood barber (??), then it's just a case of following waypoints on your quest to smash things up or stove the head in of a particular gangsta.
You do a lot of walking about, but pedestrian isn't the word. The combat is stupidly easy and as badly designed as MC Hammer's trousers - timing kill moves or complex combos together is rendered fun-free, as you're held by the hand all the way through by giant yellow 'Y' icons that flash over an enemy when he's ripe for a kill move. Welcome to Crime Life, kids - it's more bad gas than badass.
Brutal and mundane in one, it's a bag of tired clichés, and little more. Really not worth bothering your arse about.