Trigger Man is a game that wears its inspiration on its sleeve--or, more accurately, on the front of its box. The title font alone, which manages to crib from both The Godfather and The Sopranos, pretty much sets the tone for the game's hand-me-down Mafia storyline. Keeping with the borrowed theme, the third-person action that makes up the actual gameplay feels like a secondhand version of Hitman, though even that is a favorable comparison. Trigger Man is short and clumsy, and not particularly pleasant to look at either.
As the titular Trigger Man, a grim, square-jawed fellow who another character succinctly refers to as "Frankenstein," you work for the Coladangelo Family in its efforts to prevent a full-scale mob war from erupting with the Montagano Family, which believes Don Coladangelo is responsible for the death of Don Montagano's son. The story plays out kind of like a bad imitation of a second-rate Mafia movie, with dull characters and a hollow, predictable plot.
The Trigger Man's "peacemaking" tactics pretty much boil down to entering some sort of archetypal mobster locale--a casino, an opulent villa, an Italian restaurant, and so on--and murdering absolutely everyone he sees. As a fundamental gameplay conceit, this isn't such a bad idea, but Trigger Man compromises it with awkward, basic execution, adding a layer of dullness to the experience. If gunning down mobster thugs as they pop out of doorways or walk aimlessly around parking garages and hallways isn't enough for you, the game also includes some annoying key hunts, some halfhearted stealth sections, and even an escort mission. The enemies are pretty lousy shots, which, when combined with their generally small numbers, keeps them from being too threatening. The weapon balancing feels weird, and the game puts too much of an emphasis on headshots, as most thugs can take an inordinate number of shots to the torso (with or without body armor), but a headshot always nets you an instant kill. The is true even for the sniper rifle, which has its own awkward quirk of automatically going into the scope perspective when you equip it and not letting you move around without switching over to another weapon.
Despite usually being pretty well armed, the enemies never drop any weapons or ammo, leaving you to search for one of the bottomless crates of ammo placed in every section. It's contrived, to be sure, but what really makes it bad is that your carrying capacity is limited--you're able to carry only two or three extra clips per weapon--and with the enemies' insatiable appetite for hot lead, you'll find yourself having to backtrack to the last ammo crate on a regular basis just to have enough ammo to carry on. If you don't stock up on ammo before entering a new section, or you run out before you find the next crate, you'll have to learn how to get handy with a blade. Actually, there are many occasions when switching to your knife is the best option, since the enemies are lousy shots, and if you can get close enough you're guaranteed an instant kill. Above and beyond all this, Trigger Man just doesn't last long--there are only eight missions in total, and with the missions generally ranging from 15 to 30 minutes, one could easily make short work of the game, given a free afternoon.
The game's presentation is as lackluster as its gameplay. All the environments feel uniformly blocky and empty, as though they're waiting for some more people to show up, and none of them are convincing as their purported location. There is some color-banding of textures the likes of which we haven't seen in years, and there is a consistently drab, washed-out look to everything. The characters are also really chunky and generic looking, and their animations are gawky and stilted. Both the Xbox and PlayStation 2 versions are uniformly lousy looking, though the color-banding on the Xbox seems a bit more pronounced, and the PlayStation 2 version looks darker and jaggier.
The sound in Trigger Man barely seems worth mentioning, since there's barely any in the game. Environmental sounds are few and far between, and mostly you'll just be hearing the same few muddy gunfire sounds over and over again. There are a few bland electronic tracks that never change for the context of the action, so even when you're wandering up and down hallways looking for that stupid key, the cutoff-knob-happy synth lines and drum machines keep blaring. Thankfully there seems to be a bug in the game where, after looping a few times, the music just stops. The developer couldn't even spring for a few recording sessions of guys doing hackneyed Italian mafioso voices, and instead slaps text boxes over the cutscenes or any point where the Trigger Man requires some internal monologue.
Trigger Man is an uninspired and underdeveloped execution of a boilerplate game design. There are some frustrating portions, and the whole game feels rather drab, though for what it's worth, it's not broken. Even still, this game has been done before, and done much better, so despite its bargain-basement price, there is no reason to pick this one up.