True Crime: Streets of LA

This game was supposed to be the game that made Xbox gamers forget all about the Grand Theft Auto series. Since it was only on PS2, the Xbox never had a game like GTA. Ironically, Grand Theft Auto gets released the same exact day as True Crime. And to top it off Rockstar bundled III and Vice City in one package. The question now is will True Crime still hold up to all of its expectations? True Crime is a nice mixture of games like Dead to Rights, Max Payne, and GTA.

Well the basic idea of True Crime is similar to GTA, but also the exact opposite. In GTA cops can chase you if you start to get nasty, in True Crime you are the cops. You are not a cop in uniform however, are a cop (Nick Kang) with an attitude who has been suspended, but now back on a secret force called Elite Operations Division.


Imagine Los Angeles in a videogame, because this is what True Crime's environment covers. There's over 240 miles worth of driving space on the roads and highways. There are always at least two things to do, either solve a random crime, or pursue the episodes' mission. For the most part, you can do pretty much whatever you want. If causing traffic jams, blowing up cars, and killing people is your style, then forget about the missions because you can do that for hours on end and not get tired of it.

Each episode has a certain amount of missions, and you can don't have to necessarily finish them in order. Each time you move on to another episode, you can go back to the previous ones and see how much "percent complete" they are. If the episode is not resolved, you can simply go back to it at any time to complete it. So, there's no frustration in the game at all, especially if you can't beat a certain boss/fight. Failing a mission can alter things in the story, so the game is not totally on a straight path. There is also more then one ending, so you'll never know what ending you will play.

While you have your main missions to run through, there are random events that will come up for you to take care of, and the good/bad cop meter is always moving up or down. There's always a dispatch operator notifying you of crimes in progress. Crimes could be street fights or just a criminal who is running away. The good/bad cop rating is rather unique in determining if you are good or not. A good cop rating is green, and if you remain good it will stay that way. There are certain ways to bring your rating down, such as headshots, or the killing of innocent people. If you keep the shots below the waist, then you'll remain on good cop status. Bad cop ratings are the easiest to get. If you are "too bad" then the public will actually fire back at you. Again, good or bad, the ending will be different.

At anytime during gameplay you can frisk random people, and sometimes you'll find drugs. Other times you can flash your badge and they will run away if they are guilty of something. The final option you have, besides an all out fight, would be to fire off a warning shot. You can fire at enemies similarly to Max Payne. Pressing Y will dive in slow motion allowing you to fire at enemies in slow-mo.

You control Nick Kang with the left thumbstick, and the right thumbstick pans the camera. I wish there was an option of "Invert Y" like games usually have. They only included invert AIM. So now if I want to look to the right, and I press right, the camera goes left. If that is not your style, you may have a tough time controlling Kang initially. This is just a simple feature that could have been included. The overall control could have been a lot better too. With the default layout, L gets you into any car or truck. R fires your gun, but if you hold it down you can use precision firing. Precision firing zooms in and it is a lot easier to aim. The regular aiming is not all that great. Once you lock onto a target, you can switch to another one, but it just that the way the controls are laid out that it doesn't feel totally comfortable. The right thumbstick also serves as an accelerator and brake while driving.

As a whole, there is a high learning curve for the controls. You're probably not going to be used to the button layout. There's a second preset that is given in the options, and it seems to flow slightly better.

From meters, timers, and health bars, there is a lot to look at on the main screen to keep you updated. The fighting action starts to pick up within the first few episodes, and I must say it's the best part of the game. The fighting is so intense; this is probably due to the fact that the environments are highly destructible. The overall fighting sequences are really excellent, and there are new combos that you can unlock for Kang. The fighting engine is not some generic one, and this adds to the depth of the game. The character upgrades are cool, and you can find "24/7" facilities to increase your stats.

Some great features that are worth mentioning: Pedestrians can be ran over, you can upgrade your character which is nice, taking out terrorists and criminals is fun, and the alternate episodes are cool. The fact that you can take real off-ramps to get on and off highways is what I dreamed about to be in a videogame since I first started playing them.


The graphics look pretty weak at first, but up close they look crisp and high quality that one would expect from a title like this. Textures however, will just be flashing for no reason, and they are not always nice to look at. Problems with clipping, and freezing were experienced during gameplay. I was on a very high off ramp for one of the highways, and I had to stop and take a look at how much of LA I could actually see. I couldn't believe how much detail was still intact even though I was looking at it from such a far distance.

Shootout's and fighting are the best part because of all the visual effects. The destructible environments are a nice highlight of the graphics as well. You can pick up a shotgun and blow off a piece of a pillar, while the criminals can do the same. Tables, sinks, walls, or anything else that's there can be destroyed. Never before have I played a game with so much interactivity with the surrounding environments.

The environments are another superb part of the game. You can see street signs, road signs, airplanes, choppers, and birds. Businesses are all over the place; it makes me wonder if they are real. The only thing that bothered me the most was that while chasing down criminals there is some clipping issues. Suspects disappearing through walls usually means that you can't get to them. It's an annoying glitch.


The music in the game is mostly west coast rap. It's not all rap however. At the start of some of the gang fight scenes, some nice screaming heavy metal will come on. I am a fan of both metal and gangster rap, so the music rocks. Snoop Dogg (also a hidden playable character!), Westside Connection, Coolio, and many other rap/hip-hop songs come on during the driving usually. You can change them all and mix it up, and put some of your own custom soundtracks on here. As I said before, heavy bands also make up the great soundtrack, so hearing Unloco and Taproot are common during the fighting action.

Bottom Line:

The game is amazing, I am absolutely pleased with it, and you should be too. If you want a game with intense shooting action, intense fight scenes, a jammin' soundtrack, and a great story behind it, then True Crime must be played. I repeat, True Crime must be played! Did True Crime live up to its expectations? For the most part, yes. The bulk of True Crime is purely irresistible, and the gameplay is so addicting that it is capable of making you forget about GTA.

Related Links:

Official True Crime Website

-Steve Melanson