True Crime is best known for two things: being a Grand Theft Auto wannabe, and for making True Crime: Los Angeles with an almost exact representation of the city, one that puts GTA4's Liberty City, crafted after New York city, to shame. The latter is far outweighed by the former, but with a new city comes a new opportunity, and a new chance for developers.
Give me Halo: Reach! NOW!
The True Crime team has been hard at work to create something unique, and they promise they won't be satisfied with anything less than excellence. I know, because we received a 20 minute lecture on what developer United Front Games has done in the past and is currently doing to make sure they make the best game possible. Then, thankfully, we got to see the game.
True Crime: Hong Kong follows an undercover police officer infiltrating a Chinese gang. All of the main missions follow this, though there are of course secondary and tertiary missions available as well, which earn money, fame and experience. And like most open world titles, just about anything is possible in Hong Kong.
One of the first things that really stood out was the dynamic combat system. Combat in most open world games is pretty standard – one button for kick, another for punch, another to grab, and perhaps one to stay in a combative stance. Hong Kong doesn't just have simple one-two attacks however, instead waving about the air of Kung Fu and other martial arts. The gameplay I witnessed featured serious ass-kicking, more akin to a Bruce Lee movie than a videogame. Detective Wei Shen will jump-kick foes, throw them through glass walls, and utterly destroy their manliness and body in a way no open world game ever has.
Context sensitive attacks, similar but not as gruesome as those we saw in Condemned 2, appear all around Shen during combat. Throwing enemies off buildings, into fan grates and through windows is standard, if not encouraged.
After acting like Bruce Lee, we witnessed a mission where the goal was to escape a horde of gang members with one of them in the trunk of your car. This getaway, as all sandbox games, has multiple ways to play, but the unique aspect is how it works with the story. Shen not only runs his hostage to his car, but also uses him as a human shield. Even though the mission requires saving the man's life, the world in-game requires Shen to worry about his own life first, a brilliant move ben the developers.
It may seem like a moot point, but United Front Games (also the developer behind the recent ModNation Racers) is new to the scene and really wanted to emphasize that this isn't going to be like the past True Crime games. Their team comes from all over, and have worked in all different genres. Their 150 strong is mustering, what they hope, the first true competitor to Grand Theft Auto. So far, it's looking good.
Woah! I didn't mean to make a Halo reference! I swear! Don't shoot me!
True Crime: Hong Kong will release September 21st for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC.