Empire
Gotham Games
Driving/Shooting
1-2
09.10.03

Starsky & Hutch


Take Namco's classic arcade game Lucky & Wild, along with something like Stuntman, Wreckless, Chase HQ, and you got Starsky & Hutch. Being that Starsky & Hutch is based off a 70's TV series that I never saw, I can't really compare it to the show. But the Xbox needed a cops & robbers game just like this, and you are the cops.

Gameplay

Starsky & Hutch is a cop show, and you play through different seasons. After, and sometimes before each episode there is usually something that looks like a flash animation scene. It's pretty high quality, and during these scene's the narrator tells the story. You'll be chasing down bad guys the entire game, and you'll know the background of most of the bad guys. The city itself, Bay City, is filled with stunts and effects, and has over 100 miles of road to drive on. There are a few different modes of play. Story mode is the main mode, followed by Free Roam, and 3 TV Specials. Free roam is not what it sounds like. There is actually objectives to do, and there is a viewer ratings timer.

You must keep your viewer rating points above zero, or the mission is over. To keep your ratings high you must either drive over certain bonuses that increase your points, or you must keep shooting at the criminals. The more you smash your car, or if you get hit with bullets, the more your ratings go down. You can also get "special events" that enable you to inflict more damage to the bad guys. The actual level design is excellent and its actually fun driving around without anything repetitive (in terms of the environments).

Control is to loose and simple. If your playing the single player mode with just the controller, be aware that your hand will get tired. You are constantly smashing down the A button to fire your gun, and at the same time holding down R to accelerate. Warning: You may kill your thumb if you don't pause to take a break, especially if your using the original Xbox controller.

Each season tells its own unique story. Each level is very repetitive however, all you do is follow a car and shoot it until it blows up. If you follow the story, it will not seem to be so bad though. Some missions you have to protect a vehicle, but at the same time shoot at another one. After you beat the first season, the other 2 seasons are not automatically unlocked because you have to get certain police badges. There are four levels of badges that are determined by your viewer rating at the end of an episode. Even though there are a total of 18 different missions, they don't do enough to make it less repetitive.

If you really want to put your lightgun (and hand) to use then try playing this with using just the madcatz lightgun to steer and shoot. You'll be in for a real treat. It's superhard. But in the options you can set it up so you can have a multiplayer game with a buddy, and you can drive while he shoots, or vice versa. Much better that way. There's a nice chart in the manual that explains what each button does if it were a single player, or 2 player game using any combination of controllers, lightgun, and/or, steering wheel.

But all this lightgun action may not be as fun as you'd think. While playing with a friend, the screen becomes a big white flash everytime the trigger is pulled. The gun also isn't super accurate, and I am pretty sure it's the games fault for that one. The gun aim is much better in HOTD 3.

Graphics

The graphic textures load up in the background, and you can see the draw-in on the buildings. This game looks like it was made for the PS2, and then ported to Xbox. That is the likely case, but still not terrible graphics. The explosion effects are pretty detailed and look somewhat impressive. For the most part, the in-game graphics are simple, and don't use much of the Xbox's graphic chip. The car you drive, a Torino, looks flashy but has reflection effects that are rather basic. The graphic art in the menu screens remind me of Vice City.

Sound

Funky 70s music pretty much sums it up. Its not bad, and the voice-acting is decent as well. Sound effects from you shooting your gun sound like they should. The burnout sounds from the tires on your car sound like a typical burnout.

Bottom Line:

If your looking to resurrect your lightgun, for $20 it's a good idea to right now. The low price of this game makes it a must buy rather then just a rental. Lightgun fanactics prayers have been answered, slightly.

-Steve Melanson




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