The Italian Job as a movie wasn’t anything particularly amazing, but it was still a fun ride. The writing was clever and occasionally humorous, the acting was superb, and the car chases and heists provided ample adrenaline rush for your movie going dollar. Now though we have a game based on that movie, which seems to have been developed for no other purpose than to remind us how mediocre most licensed games are…and to teach us how to smash our heads against the wall in boredom.
The game’s plot is told through a series of shrewd cut scenes narrated by Charlie Conker, the game’s main character. Like the movie though, the plot is pretty basic: A group of guys steal a bunch of gold, one of them turns Benedict Arnold and steals it all from them, and now the guys who got screwed over by him are trying to get it back from him.
Though the plot displayed during these cut scenes is pretty weak it does display both of the game’s better attributes – the graphics and the audio. Though neither of them being anything special, they both do their job. The graphics for example aren’t amazing, but the game does have quite a bit of detail running at a nice framerate and a good draw-in distance. Same goes for the audio, as the sound effects, the voice acting, and techno/orchestra is really noteworthy, but none of it’s mediocre either. The only real gripe I have is that the voice actor for Charlie Conker isn’t Mark Wahlberg from the movie, but than again, it IS Mark Y Mark, so maybe that’s not such a bad thing.
What is bad though is the rest of the game aside from the audio and graphics. It seems the guys at Climax Entertainment spent more time coming up with a sexually suggestive name for their company than making a game here. For one thing, the game is just plain short. I beat this game half-asleep within six hours, and that includes trips to the bathroom and refrigerator.
It wasn’t even an enjoyable six hours either. The fifteen missions contained within the game are a mixture of traditional races, chases, and point A to Point B missions that games like Driver have all ready beaten the heck out of. Little here really stimulates your gaming glands, nor really challenge you, so it’s really not much fun.
The only thing that makes these fifteen boredom-inducing levels take six hours to beat instead of three is the game’s laundry list of flaws. The biggest problem this game has is its lack of a comprehensible map or Crazy Taxi-esque arrow. Instead of having either of those things the game gives you a radar looking thing and a red dot. That’s it. Have fun taking wrong streets, or circling a building for an hour looking for an entrance before you finally figure out that your Point B is on the top of the building.
The other thing that bogs down this game is slightly less important, but it does a good job of getting on your nerves nonetheless. The other driver’s AI, or lack thereof, is what I’m talking about here, and rest assured that it’s going to get you Carrot Top level of aggravation after about ten minutes. The other drivers in the game’s world drive like their parents played volleyball with them when they were infants, in that they will make no attempt whatsoever to try and get out of your way, and will often smash right into you from behind.
This is made all the more annoying by the fact that the game deducts points from you every time you hit another car, or they hit you. In fact, a lot of things in the game are measured to give you or subtract points, for which are the basis of a grade you get at the end of each mission. If you get a good grade in these levels you get arbitrary extras like designer art work (boring), still shots from the film (more boring), or credits (kill me now).
Aside from the main story mode, the game also allows you to do circuit racing, stunts, and city roaming as other modes, but none of it really has much depth. The stunts and circuit racing are mildly amusing for a little bit, but after a while they become tiresome, and virtual Los Angeles is just too small to make free roaming the city really that fun.
When I wrote a preview for this game a couple months back I was nice and wrote optimistically about the upcoming Driver-esque title. Now though that I’ve played through the game I’m not feeling nice anymore. This game is mediocre crap that is amusing for about ten minutes, and then becomes more repetitive than a techno song. Skip this game. Trust me, your wallet will thank you.
Platforms: GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox