Live and Die in LA

True Crime: Streets of L.A
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Los Angeles. The "city of angels." Otherwise known as L.A. Arguably it is the most popular and talked about place on the U.S map. They got the big-time movie stars, the platinum music artists, the hottest nightclubs, the four-star restaurants, scads of fortune 500 companies, filthy rich tycoons, and more one-night stands than there are grains in the sand.

You put all those ingredients together and what do you get? Crime. More crime than you can shake a stick at. You got thieves, hijackers, drug dealers, drug addicts, king-pins, drunks and prostitutes. Need I go on? Ok I will.

You got gangsters, smugglers, hackers, hit-men, crooked cops, dirty politicians, and a get-rich-quick scam around every corner. With all this crime and injustice going around, someone’s gotta draw a line in the sand and say, "Hey! Enough is Enough!" And since there isn’t but a handful of individuals who have the guts to go out there and stand up to these real-life cut-throats and lawbreakers I highly recommend playing it "safe" by living out your real life cop fantasies on Activision’s hit action-shooter, "True Crime: Streets of L.A", and leave the real crime-fighting to those brave and courageous souls that put their lives on the line everyday to keep our streets safe.

"True Crime: Streets of L.A" is practically everything and the kitchen sink when it comes to portraying the everyday routine of a real life street detective. The game is rated "M" and for good reason. There are no punches pulled. From foul language to murder and guns, this game’s got it all. True Crime takes key elements from hits like "Grand Theft Auto" and "The Getaway" and throws them together into a sweet mix of gameplay that’s sure to keep fans coming back to scene of the crime.

Meet Nick Kang Wilson, a former member of the L.A.P.D. recently suspended indefinitely from the force due to repeated incidents of excessive violence and property damage. Though it’s not spoken, under his care-free and sarcastic demeanor, Nick seems to be the kind of cop that’s seen one to many homicides, robberies, or domestic disputes. Or perhaps the motive of his actions revolve around the suspicious death of his father, Henry Kang Wilson, who was also a former L.A.P.D. cop. Whatever the case, at some point the last straw was broken for him and so his new take on life, the independent vigilante take, has landed him up to his neck in hot water on more than a few occasions. Despite such a bad rap Nick’s still a hell of a cop. His arrest record speaks for itself. The same over-the-line methods that got him thrown off the force are the same methods that have landed him his next big job opportunity down at the E.O.D.

Founded in 2003, the E.O.D or Elite Operations Division, was created to combat the toughest and most controversial cases in Los Angeles. The E.O.D is headed up by Wanda Parks, otherwise known as "The Chief," one of L.A.’s most respected detectives. A fully independent branch of the police department, the E.O.D’s mission statement is simple and concise: To protect the citizens of Los Angeles at any cost.

To the Chief, Nick is just what the doctor ordered. She desires to use Nick’s unorthodox methods of police brutality to put a hole in some of the toughest crime around the city. Nick plays the "hard-to-get" act at first, but the idea of being granted clearance from the highest levels to battle crime using any means necessary is simply an opportunity he’s not willing to pass up at the moment.

The Chief is willing to put of with Nick’s brash and over-the-top nature because she knows that when all hell breaks loose, Nick is the only man who consistently delivers. She partners Nick up with an ex-gangbanger turned straight, Rosie Velasquez. Having experienced life on both sides of the law, she knows how to take care of herself. Rosie makes it known she isn’t too happy about hitting the streets with a loose cannon like Nick. She’s afraid she’ll get caught up in the crossfire that constantly surrounds L.A’s most dangerous detective…and rightly so.

From the time you hit the streets everything plays out like a really cool action-packed cop flick. You’ll spend much of your time patrolling around L.A and dropping in on some known hotspots in search of clues or leads to unsolved cases. There is of course a progressive main story line, but what makes True Crime a real masterpiece is the fact that you can be pulled away from your primary objectives at a moments notice to handle other crimes going on around the city. "Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do when they come for you"…right.

Let me tell you L.A is rough place, even in the virtual world. You literally never know what’s going to happen or go wrong next. When the emergency call comes over the radio from dispatch its time to kick it into high gear and be ready for anything. You can be called to diffuse a series of random crimes including domestic disputes, excessive speeding, purse snatching, joyriding, prostitution, assault and battery situations, car-jacking, gang-banging and just about any other law that can be broken under the sun.

Most suspects will surrender when you "flash your badge," but more hostile situations might require you to fire a "warning shot". You can also attempt to identify suspicious civilians carrying illegal goods. Simply walk up next to them and press the corresponding button to perform a "frisk" search. Of course, there will always be those perpetrators who will put up a fight or run for it, but that’s when the real fun begins. Whatever the case make sure you slap the cuffs on after the situation is diffused to gain additional points.

Anytime you make an arrest or take down a suspect, you earn points depending on how you handled the situation. Once you have earned 100 points, they are converted into a "badge." Badges are used to gain entry to "24/7 training facilities". On the flip side of things, if your actions kill an innocent bystander then you will actually lose points for recklessness.

You can find 24/7 training facilities all over the city. These facilities are where law enforcement agents go to increase their skills in fighting, shooting , and driving. New weapons upgrades, hand-to-hand combat techniques, and vehicle skills can be acquired at these areas.

To be a top cop you’re gonna have to master your abilities and sharpen your wits. If you think you’re just gonna get out there and turn the streets around overnight you’re in for a rude awakening. L.A is a tough place for rookie cops to climb the ladder. My first day out in the city was pretty rough. I was on my way to meet my partner for lunch when an emergency call came over the radio about a couple of prostitutes soliciting their bodies to make a quick dime.

I roll up to the scene of the crime and put the first hooker in handcuffs. The arrest was going well. That is until hooker number 2 jumped up on my shoulders and knocked me out cold with a knuckle sandwich to the forehead and they both escaped. I tried not to be too hard on myself about the whole incident. My pride was just beginning to return when later that day I got another call about a car-jacker who was running away from police on foot.

I spotted the violator running up a nearby street and chased the guy by car for a couple blocks when suddenly he turns on me, throws me out of my car and to the ground and escapes to freedom via my own personal wheels. Talk about humiliation.

Finally, my day was topped-off by being called to handle a domestic dispute between a businessman and his wife. I arrive on the scene to make the arrests and no sooner than I step out of the car, the businessman pulls a gun on me and wastes no time putting me out of my miserable existence.

At this point I was thinking it was time to rethink my strategy. I figured that my day might have gone better if I had taken time out to learn a few tricks of the trade. First off I may have been able to diffuse the "tag-team hookers from hell" had I been more familiar with my hand-to-hand martial arts skills. These skills are key for close quarters combat. You don’t wanna just get in there and start throwing a series of random kicks and punches.

Combos are much more effective, especially against an enemy with serious martial arts know-how. Use combos to knock your opponent into a "dazed" state. When they’re dazed, it’s time to put ’em down for the count with a powerful finish combo. In the beginning you can finish your opponent with powerful martial techniques like the "Jumping Monkey," the "Monkey Paw Punch", and the "Monkey Kick."

Secondly, I could have probably caught back up with that car-jacker who stole my ride had I thought to "commandeer" another vehicle right away. Just like "Grand Theft Auto" you can take over civilian vehicles when necessary to keep up in a high-speed chase. Only this time round, taking over a car is actually "legal." A word of advice, if you are chasing down an assailant who is fleeing away in a high-speed sports car, don’t try and commandeer a taxi cab to catch up with them. Chances are you’ll be left in the dust.

In situations where you don’t have the choice of fast wheels, it’s best to take what you can and if you manage to catch up to your target, shoot their tires out to slow them down and bring them to a stop. And since your car takes realistic damage, how you manage to take care of it during a high-speed chase will ultimately determine the overall success or failure in the apprehension of your suspect.

Finally, looking back from the grave, I may have lived to see another day had I thought to duck behind my car and take cover from the heavily-armed businessman. Whenever you are out on the street your car is first shield against weapons fire. Use it to your advantage to stay healthy and take down those nasty wolves in sheep’s clothing. This is probably a good time to point out that you should never trust anyone, no matter what they look like. A lawbreaker is a lawbreaker. Give ’em the respect they deserve.

The main story line is segmented into episodes. If you complete an episode and "succeed" in meeting all your objectives as well, you will be rewarded with a "Bonus Drive To" mode. In this mode, you can drive to different locations to find new upgrades for future use.

You have the option to drop by a nearby Dojo to spar with a martial arts expert to pick up a new kind of grapple or finish attack, gain access to new weapons at the firing range or, best of all, participate in a street race to gain access to some new wheels. The chicks dig my newly acquired ’69 muscle car.

Even more so, the "Bonus Drive To" mode gives rookie cops a chance to practice making arrests around the city. You see as you’re driving around to find new upgrades for yourself, you’ll have the opportunity to handle emergency calls as well. This is your chance to sharpen yourself up for the next upcoming episode. You can pretty much spend as much time as you want in this bonus mode before moving on with the story.

I can’t end this review without mentioning the beautiful sound quality of the game. Truth be said, the game could win your heart with the soundtrack alone. "Streets of L.A" has enough music hits to "shizzle your nizzle" for sure. I’m talking mad beats from big-time music artists like, "Ice-T," "Bone Thugs and Harmony," "Megadeth," "Unloco," "I Mother Earth," "Mack 10" and other platinum music stars. You’ll be treated to a random selection of beats every time you get under the wheel. Trust me, it’s the only way to ride.

The voiceovers used in the cut-scenes and other voice skits throughout the game really help nail a solid presentation. There’s no questioning the fact that you feel like you’re starring in the latest hot new "cop flick" about to hit the big screen. Hats off to the dev team for showcasing a real display of quality sound for a game of this genre.

The bottom line is bustin’ thugs has never been this cool. True Crime: Streets of L.A is nearly the perfect cop/detective simulator. You never play the game the same way each time you hit the streets. It gives you a realistic feel and much respect for the guys that go out and do this kind of thing everyday in real life.

The game is packed with great cut-scenes, excellent voiceovers, and without a doubt the hottest music soundtracks to date. Fun and intense action along with a huge replay value make this game a must have for any fan of this genre. Simply put, it’d be a crime to pass it by. I’m throwing the book at this one with an overall 4 + out of 5 Gin gems.

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