True Crime: Streets of LA Preview
Activision's successful console crime drama is coming to the PC, with PC-only features like multiplay and an even better soundtrack.
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After making the rounds on the three major consoles, True Crime: Streets of LA is finally headed for the PC. For those unfamiliar with the console versions, True Crime is a driving/fighting/shooting game in the same vein as a Hollywood action movie. You play as Nick Kang, a "loose cannon" LAPD detective taking on the Russian mob and Chinese triad gangs at the same time. And to top it all off, True Crime features an expansive soundtrack that's a virtual who's who of rap and hip-hop, as well as the voice acting talents of character actor Christopher Walken.
Though the PC version will pack everything that was included in the console games, Activision and developer LTI Gray Matter (not to be confused with the Gray Matter responsible for Return to Castle Wolfenstein) are working to deliver more than just a port of the game. There are a number of new features in the PC version, including multiplayer, as well as a reworking of the controls to make it feel more like a PC game.
The biggest PC-only feature is obviously multiplayer--a feature that all three console versions lacked. The PC version will have support for up to four players in five multiplayer modes. There's street racing, which essentially re-creates the wild races found in movies like The Fast and the Furious. Up to four players can race, and there are options to turn on traffic and guns so that you have more opportunities to sabotage your opponents. There are a number of preset race courses, plus a custom track feature that presents you with a large-scale map of Los Angeles, then lets you cordon off whichever parts of the city you like so you can create a race course with up to 10 waypoints.
The battle master mode is a last-man-standing-style game in which, as you might have guessed, the last man standing wins. The match can be set indoors or outdoors, in any environment found in the game. There are several new weapons, including a rocket launcher, a crossbow, and a baseball bat. A corollary to battle master is dojo master, which is essentially battle master without the weapons; in this mode, you'll compete based on your skill with the game's third-person martial arts fighting system. In chase mode, one player plays as a criminal while up to three others play as police in pursuit. The criminal needs to avoid being caught and can race around the city, hijacking cars to get away. The last mode is top cop, which determines who the best cop is. Players can team in pairs as they go around the city busting criminals, frisking suspects, and more. The entire city is turned on in this mode, so there should be a lot of action going on.
All the characters' skins from the game will be available in multiplayer, as well as all the vehicles. However, cars will be separated into classes, so you won't find someone unfairly racing a hot rod against an ice cream truck. There will also be 10 brand-new skins based on "Activision all-star" characters, though exactly who these characters are has not been revealed yet.
The control scheme has been optimized for the PC's keyboard/mouse combination, and the controls have been styled after third-person action games like Max Payne and Grand Theft Auto 3 so that they're familiar to PC gamers. Currently, the team is debating whether to include two different control schemes: an "old school," console-style setup for a gamepad and a "new jack" system for the keyboard/mouse. One major change is that the auto-aiming feature that was in the console versions is being seriously reworked. To offer PC players a bit of a challenge, the game will feature full mouse-controlled targeting, though it will also likely have some aiming assistance for beginners.
In addition, the game's already-huge soundtrack has been beefed up even further. After the console versions of the games were released, many players apparently felt that the soundtrack put too much focus on rap and hip-hop. Since rock and roll is also extremely popular in Los Angeles, Activision is adding a number of heavy metal, rock, and alternative songs to the track. The new soundtrack is being finalized, so details as to which groups made the cut will be revealed later. There will also be subtitles for all tracks in the game, so you can finally figure out what song you're listening to, and there will be controls that will let you skip a track if you've heard a certain song too many times.
Activision is taking a lot of steps to make True Crime seem less like a simple port and more like a full-fledged PC game. We'll find out how well it works out when the game ships. It's currently scheduled for release later this year.
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