Previews

True Crime: Hong Kong - 2011's most polished open-world?

Will Hong Kong play host to a GTA beater?

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A good demonstration of the combat's high level of polish is a mission we're shown about halfway through the game, in which Wei's held hostage in the penthouse of a huge skyscraper.

He's being held by the Sun Yee Triad in a torture scene that definitely wouldn't look out of place in the aforementioned Al Pacino flick (knives, hammers and power drills are involved).

Battered and bruised, our man wakes up in a bloody pile on the floor and, in an in-game event, crawls over to his first victim who's swiftly strangled into a dead pile on the floor. The next poor sod he finds 'taking care of business' in the bogs is horrifically drowned in his own urine.

Wei's moves are brutal, fluid and loyal to Hong Kong cinema's tradition (apart from the piss), often making use of the environment. They also showcase the more primal, 'Kill Bill' side of his character, with his lust for revenge against his sister's killers turning him into an often inhumane killer.

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As Wei progresses through the penthouse - which at this stage is being battered by rain against its imposing glass windows - he comes across a room full of henchman going about their evening.

The environment looks great, with interior detail definitely on par with GTA IV and characters that utilise the scenery; one guard's cooking up dinner in the kitchen, another pair are in the midst of a Guitar Hero battle. Unfortunately, Wei's about to ruin their night.

Dropping down from his balcony vantage point, Wei storms towards the nearest Triad goon and unleashes a flurry of punches and kicks - all of which can be learned and enhanced via in-game training.

During combat, environmental kill objects are highlighted and Wei's encouraged to grab hold of his opponent and shove them face-first towards a bloody death.

In a blur of action Wei electrocutes a man on a pair of cables, cuts another's face off with an electrical saw and oh yes - beats the third to death with his own Guitar Hero controller.

It can get even worse than that though; Throw a baddie in a furnace and he'll run around screaming and efficiently setting other enemies on fire in the process.

It looks good (and often hilarious) and full combo and counter systems are promised too - so it's not all automated glitz.

The action's more impressive in a later mission when the fight stumbles out onto the rooftops. Like almost every other genre entry these days Activision's Chinese crime spree features a Parkour platforming system, but unlike the competitors True Crime's gone for something a bit more skilful and a bit less sterile than the pack.

Hold down A and Wei will sprint like a madman - like in pursuit of this thug we're watching him chase across neon-lit rooftops. Tap the button again at key moments however, such as when you're about to vault a gate or hop over a table, and he'll perform the move in one smooth execution, often kicking a poor sod on the other end in the head as he does.

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Miss time your press and Wei will be forced to clumsily clamber across the obstacle, losing you valuable chasing time.

Hardcore players can use the contextual free-running system (as it's officially called) to one-hit-kill and disarm enemies, says UFG, and when you slip or grab on to a ledge there's even a little QTE sequence to haul yourself back up.

There are contextual crowd moves such as dodges and weaves too (that work by moving the thumbstick just before colliding with a civilian) - they're all subtle additions but bound to add skill to an otherwise automated stalwart of open-world gaming, and it's another reason True Crime, on foot at least, is looking like it's got something exciting to offer.

HONG KONG PHOOEY
The second pillar of True Crime, UFG tells us, is it's gigantic and unique sandbox - the first set in Hong Kong, it proudly proclaims.

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