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Bloodbath

More holiday games that give up the gore

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Blood and death are part and parcel of the videogame world. If limbs can't be reduced to bloody stumps and innocent bystanders beaten to pulpy messes, then the violent fantasies of videogames aren't fulfilled. Violence is a thread that dominates this industry, satisfying some odd urge within players that necessitates blood spray when a character is hit. Perhaps it's a reflection of something wrong in society -- or is it just a naughty hobby of our culture? Regardless, we love the gore. Here are a couple reviews of the most recent bloody, violent creations that deal largely with shooting things. I just hope playing these games exorcises the demons instead of creating them.

While shopping at Wal-Mart, I found myself behind a woman buying a copy of True Crime: New York City for her 7-year-old. Call me conservative, but this game comes with a disclaimer stating: "This game is not approved, endorsed or connected in any way to the New York City Police Department. This game is fictional and does not represent the views, policies or practices of the NYPD." Now, there has to be a lawsuit in that -- and I can guess why after 10 minutes of game play. You beat up suspects, search cars without warrants and frisk little old ladies on the street. Also: Because the car controls are so incredibly hard to master, you generally run over pedestrians on a regular basis -- all in the name of the NYPD.

Since heads do explode in this game and you can collect sex toys as evidence, I'm not sure if moms should be picking this up for their elementary-age kids. However, if you're within the age limit (17+), True Crime is a damned fun game. Although it's an obvious knock-off of Grand Theft Auto, I actually preferred this one to San Andreas. The missions aren't as infuriating and there's some direction to your random movements about the city. You can either choose to clean up crime or follow the story line. Either way, it's fun.

True Crime's main issues are the controllers. There are about a hundred different commands, and the tutorial is short and not especially helpful. Nongamers will probably find the car and melee controls very trying. After the first couple hours of game play, I figured them out (more or less) and the game became exponentially more enjoyable. Another irritating factor is how fast your health meter goes down. It doesn't take much to kill a cop in this game, but perps seem to have incredible amounts of health. Since health cannot be stored to powered up during a fight, this makes the bigger gunfights a bit hard to beat.

True Crime is bolstered by an all-star cast of voices, including Christopher Walken, Laurence Fishburne, Mickey Rourke, Esai Morales, Law & Order SVU's Mariska Hargitay and Traci Lords. Unfortunately for these famous voices, the lines they're speaking aren't all that good. Couple these voices with a great soundtrack bolstered by hits from Redman, Run-DMC, DMX, Blondie and Sonic Youth and you get an incredibly nice-sounding game. Sadly, the graphics pale beside the soundtrack, and oftentimes you'll find frames lagging, catching and generally screwing up game play.

If not for the technical problems, True Crime: New York City would have been a decent knock-off of a hit game. As it stands, I prefer the original versions of Grand Theft Auto.

The Quake series of games relates loosely to the Doom world. So it was only a matter of time beyond Doom 3's release that Quake would hit the shelves with another edition. Quake 4 uses the Doom 3 engine to create a wild splatter-fest for your computer. As usual, top-notch graphics are paired with space-dungeon settings to create a maze of violence and survival tactics. While I don't find Quake 4 nearly as terrifying as Doom 3, I certainly enjoy the shooting more. There's a lot less creeping about and more outright battle. This makes for a fun evening of letting go and blasting apart aliens, which is a perfect outlet for me. The biggest draw for just about anyone playing is the BFG, or dark matter gun. Featured in this year's Doom movie, this blaster really does its business and rocks for multiplayer mode.

The people at id didn't just accelerate the graphics on this edition of the game, they also boosted sound. Pick up a new pair of speakers for the PC, because the rumbling and thumping of monsters justifies the expense. Technically, the game is also well worth any sort of system upgrades you might need to run this mother.

I enjoyed Quake 4 on the PC, but I gotta admit that I can't wait to work my guns on the Xbox 360. Although the game is out, units remain hard to find and they still contain quite a few bugs. It's better to wait on a decent version of the unit that doesn't burn out after too much game play, and then have a blood-fest with Quake 4.

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