To quote Mr Pink, "Somebody's shoved a red-hot poker up our ass, and I want to know whose name is on the handle!" See, we've been duped. Rather fitting really considering the themes of the game an' all, but, unfortunately, Reservoir Dogs isn't all it's cracked up to be.
Sure, bits are interesting (some bits are just damn right sick), and the game's fine in short ten-minute PR demonstrations, but sit down and play this sucker and you'll find something that falls way short of expectations. It's a pity because it was going places, but when a game sets out on a path then just sort of circles around on itself for the remainder of the time, all the cool hostage taking in the world isn't going to have you strutting about feeling all gangster.
This is, for the sake of going into too much detail, your utterly bog-standard third person shooter, when it should have been Max Payne gone completely cuckoo. You've got your exploding red barrels, switches that unlock doors, some doors that are just 'part of the scenery', disappearing bodies, and random AI that is sometimes shit-hot, sometimes laughable. What makes Reservoir Dogs slightly different from its brethren is the Hostage Taking option and use of your character's adrenaline. (Oh yeah, all the characters play identically and you'll not really know who the hell you're playing sometimes. Not that it matters of course. Oh no.)
Hostages are an integral part of the game, and how you learn to deal with hostage situations often determines your success on a level. To take a hostage is simple enough (run up to an AI character and grab it around the neck), but this action then means the police and security will try and talk you down. A lone security guard can be threatened then verbally forced to disarm (my, the language is foul!), but a S.W.A.T team is less likely to respond to your cursing and cussing. A decent thwack to your hostage's head (or you can slam his head against a wall, or lower it into a flaming oil drum if you like) will persuade the police to lower their guns.
Then it's a case of simply ushering them into a room or safely out the way. Some will try and flank you of course (they were probably programmed with a shop-bought 'flanking' programming package), but they can be spotted a mile off and dealt with. And that, basically, is what Reservoir Dogs is about. It's a shame that things only become more interesting when you deviate from the main selling point of the game. See, although hostage taking is its big selling point, you can muddle through never taking a hostage and let your gun do the talking instead. Headshots, knee-capping, Robocop-style exploding chests and dying cops doing the dancing jig of death, it's got the lot.
Hell, even the obligatory racing sections are inventive (don't slow down or the kidnapped cop in the trunk will do a runner). It's fun, it really is, but only if you choose not to play the game as it was intended. It's not too hard to complete a level through pure violence, but it is perhaps a little tedious to complete a level through hostage-taking. That said though, there are benefits to dragging someone around with you. Oh yes!
By taking a hostage, your adrenaline pumps up, and once your adrenaline meter is full you'll be able to fire off a signature move. If you're still holding your hostage at the time, it will be such a spectacularly violent beating all the nearby cops will lower their arms automatically. If you're not holding anyone though, you're treated to a Matrix-style slo-mo shoot-a-thon that allows you to take out as many cops as you can within a short period before they have a chance to respond. It's cool. Very cool in fact. But, you know us, we're not going to let something enjoyable have its day in the sun when there are plenty of sucky bits to moan about.