Michael Bay's Bad Boys and Bad Boys II are two of the best action movies of the last 10 years. Conversely, Empire Interactive and Blitz Games' Bad Boys: Miami Takedown is one of the worst action games of the last 10 years. How could this happen? It's not like the developer didn't have more than ample source material with which to make a good, old-fashioned shooter. Featuring two wisecracking cops who bust up a lot of bad guys, the Bad Boys films were absolutely rife with game licensing potential. Yet somehow, all Blitz was able to turn in was this dumb, grating, and barely playable hack-job of a game. When you take a moment to consider how much progress film-based games have made in the last year or so, Miami Takedown really only serves as a cold reminder of a past we don't want to revisit.
Miami Takedown continues the cop saga of Miami police detectives Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett, originally played by Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, respectively. Of course, neither actor reprises his role in this game; instead we are treated to two of the stupidest-sounding voice actors you will ever hear. The ludicrous impersonations both actors try to pull off are astonishing enough, since neither sounds anything like the original actor. In particular, the actor pretending to be Martin Lawrence's character is so bad, his attempt to re-create Lawrence's character actually borders on being offensive.
Oh, and then there's the mercilessly awful dialogue. "Punishing" is really the only word that can be used to describe it. Whereas the Bad Boys films were written to include witty banter between the two main characters that, while cheesy at times, worked well with the obvious chemistry between the two actors, the dialogue here seems like it was written by a fourth grader who saw about half of Bad Boys, got drunk, then tried to write something that faintly resembled what he could remember about the film. Or something like that. Yes, all the rampant (and generally unnecessary) profanity is there, but it's all completely humorless. Every joke, quip, or gag in the game is painfully unfunny--and not even in a pseudoironic "it's so bad it's good" kind of way, either. It's just horrible. For example, Mike says, "Man, getting shot in the ass by Russian lead? That just puts the cap on a s***** day!", to which Marcus responds, "But you ain't wearin' a cap!" And what's perhaps even worse about this is that there's so much dialogue to sit through! Every five or 10 seconds you'll hear one lame line or another. There's no escaping it, no matter how much you might want to.
The actual story in Miami Takedown is largely irrelevant. It has something to do with Colombian drug lords, Russian mobsters, dirty cops, and a lot of bad guys getting shot in the face. That's pretty much all you need to know. The whole game takes place across several "acts," each of which contains a few different stages. The actual missions aren't terribly involved. They basically tend to revolve around the typical "get from point A to point B and shoot everyone in your path" ilk. Occasionally, you'll have to protect your artificial intelligence-controlled partner (you control either Marcus or Mike, depending on the mission) or collect some evidence or what have you, but it's all pretty much incidental to your primary goal of killing lots and lots of people.
You have a fair number of weapons at your disposal in Miami Takedown, ranging from simple pistols and shotguns to automatic assault rifles and grenades. Each weapon packs a varying degree of punch, though all of them have the annoying tendency to be somewhat useless at times. This is because, for the most part, the hit detection in Miami Takedown is fairly broken. Headshots live up to the promise of being one-hit kills, but with shots to any other parts of an enemy's body, it's anybody's guess as to when or where shots will be effective. One moment you can pump shotgun round after shotgun round into an enemy's chest, legs, and assorted other body parts as he just stands there dumbfounded and still pointing a gun in your direction, while at other times, you'll place one or two pistol shots to the foot, and an enemy will keel right over. Consistency, thy name is not Bad Boys.
In nearly every mission, the primary gameplay mechanic you'll encounter (apart from the whole shooting thing) is taking cover. Every level is absolutely littered with marked cover points that Mike and Marcus can use to hide from enemy fire. By pressing the proper button, your character will duck behind a wall or around a corner, which gives you the proper cover and also allows you time to move the aiming reticle to your closest target. By pressing the left control stick upward or outward, your character will suddenly shift into a first-person view, which leaves you exposed but able to quickly shoot your targeted enemy.
In theory, this cover mechanic is not actually a horrible idea, because a lot of the films' action scenes feature a lot of cover-fire scenarios. However, much like the hit detection, this mechanic is a little on the broken side. Sometimes pressing the control stick just won't make your guy pop out when you want him to, and thanks to the loose handling of the right-control-stick aiming, trying to line up a proper shot on an enemy can be a very tedious affair. Plus, at least a third of the time--even after you've lined up your enemy with the reticle--once you jump out to fire, your shot will be off by a fair margin, because the reticle or the enemy will have moved inexplicably. Once you do get a good lock on an enemy, you can press one of the trigger buttons to keep your target lock on that enemy. Unfortunately, once that enemy moves even a few inches, that lock is immediately lost. There are also some other little nuisances associated with the cover mechanic--like how using a shotgun from out of cover leaves you out in the open for a full second longer than any other weapon, because the developer decided to have the gun-cocking animation occur while you are still exposed. So, overall, the whole cover system just plain sucks.
The enemy AI in the game is also pretty horrific. Bad guys attack in bunches, and, really, all they know how to do is take cover, jump out, shoot, move back and forth maybe once or twice, and then repeat. Depending on the layout of the room, they might find a way to shoot you even if you're behind cover. However, nine times out of 10, if you just stay covered, they'll just kind of stand around while perpetually shooting at the wall you're standing behind, because they are utterly incapable of leaving the room they're assigned to. Furthermore, some enemies can't even quite make this work. Periodically, enemies will find themselves stuck on patrol paths that no amount of bullets to the face can stop--at least not until they've been killed. Other times, enemies will get stuck behind cover, forcing you to come after them and shoot them in the backs of the head while they sit there silently waiting for death.
Miami Takedown's graphics certainly don't do anything to help the game's case, either. All it takes is one up-close look at the models for Marcus and Mike to make it plainly evident that this is not a pleasant-looking game. Not only do both characters not even vaguely resemble their movie counterparts, but also they're so archaically designed that you'll think you're looking at a late-generation Nintendo 64 game. The Xbox version of the game, generally speaking, keeps a pretty steady frame rate throughout the game, but the PS2 version does not. Calling the PS2 version "choppy" would be a bit of an understatement. The GameCube version is similarly choppy and actually looks even more ragged around the edges, with more jags and washed-out colors. All three versions also suffer from some nasty camera and clipping problems, too. In any indoor environment with a low ceiling, the camera will frequently push in way, way too close to your character, causing you to lose all sight of him or where he's going. You'll also notice more than a few clipping glitches, such as when bad guys on the opposite side of a wall partially stick through said wall. The hysterical thing is that you can actually shoot the body parts that are poking through the wall, which either damages the bad guy who owns the body part or knocks the gun from his or her hands. The only real graphical positive that Miami Takedown has to offer is its environments, which, while not remarkable-looking, are at least highly destructible. However, destructible environments are far from enough to salvage this game's visuals.
Perhaps the saddest--and funniest--thing about Bad Boys: Miami Takedown is that it couldn't even serve its original purpose. This game was initially announced as a marketing tie-in to the DVD release of Bad Boys II last year. And here it is--a year later--and the game is just now on store shelves. When a game manages to fail even as a cheap marketing ploy, you know you've got a stinker on your hands, and this is most certainly what this offering is. Even for the budget price tag that Miami Takedown is retailing for, this bomb of a game is a horrible choice for anyone, and it should absolutely be avoided.