Reviewed: August 10, 2006
Released: July 18, 2006
Miami Vice: The Game, not to be confused with Miami Vice the TV series, the movie, the DVD box collections, the novel, etc. is the latest movie tie-in videogame that continues to prove that movies and TV donít always make the best source material for games.
I was a huge Miami Vice fan back in the 80ís. At the time I was living in the Miami area and I even scored a walk-on role in one of the second season episodes. Miami Vice was the epitome of pop-culture at the time. If it wasnít showcasing the latest in fashion and music trends it was setting them. How many people do you know that wore white pants and sports jacket with a pastel shirt in the mid-80ís? I was a DJ at a popular Miami nightclub in 1985 and every night looked like Don Johnson look-alike night, and scarily, the girls ate it up.
Michael Mann, the visionary producer of that series as well as this summerís remake of the series on the big screen has a knack for creating a totally unique style, both visually and audibly, but unfortunately, Rebellion and Sierra do not share that same skill in their PSP telling of the same material.
Miami Vice is your classic action shooter, light on story, heavy on gunfire, and peppered with more cursing than a George Carlin concert. The game engine is quite lame, borrowing the style from Resident Evil 4, with awkward movement and twitching aiming controls that will have you casting this game aside long before you complete it with one character, let alone two.
The first decision is to pick either Crockett or Tubbs, not that it matters really. You then get some short movies to setup the minimal story before you are deposited at the beginning of any one of several nondescript levels for a lengthy barrage of foul-mouthed, gun-toting stereotypes.
Levels are linear and divided into ďarenasĒ full of enemies. You have a map that shows the location of everyone and everything so there are no surprises. Just find a good place to fire from (since you canít fire while moving) and peck away until each room is empty before moving onto the next.
The game tries to get inventive in that you get to seek out cover, or in some cases make your own by turning over a table, but the simple fact that aiming your gun is an exercise in futility. The analog pad is just too twitchy to accurately aim, especially if you are tracking a moving target. Ultimately, you try to get into a stand off and have your aiming dot positioned where the bad guy will appear the next time he pops out from his own cover.
There is a reputation system underlying the entire game, again, not that it really matters. You are rewarded for taking risks, like using smaller weapons and passing up the frequent body armor pick-ups, but why sacrifice potential fun for an arbitrary rating system.
Reputation does come into play slightly between the gameís main shooting levels. There is this nice map system that serves as a hub to the game. Here, you can perform preliminary cop duties to prep for the next mission, rough up informants and even sell drugs from your last bust. The way you are treated by the criminal element is directly related to your rep.
Morality even comes into play, and you have limited control over how the story unfolds by being a good cop or a bad cop. Rebellion even managed to throw in a few mini-games into the mix. These are nothing too special but they do break-up what is otherwise a pretty stale shooter. The computer hacking is probably my favorite.
I think a big part of my dislike for the game was that even with the poor controls, the game was still too easy. I just never felt challenged. The enemy AI is either bad or non-existent. Enemies are worried more about finding cover than firing back at you, so you have several seconds to kill everyone when you enter a room as they all scramble for cover.
The game itself isnít terribly long, so even average gamers will finish this in a day or so. The mini-games donít offer any replayability outside the game and even the cooler concepts like buying information to use in the main game simply donít work.
I did like the detail to the character construction and animation. There are several movements that look like they may have been mo-capped by real cops. But for the most part the game is muddy and too dark to enjoy unless you happen upon one of the rare outdoor, daylight levels. More often than not, you will be blindly aiming into the darkness waiting for your dot to change color indicating a successful hit.
The map is a cool idea but I didnít like having to filter my locations. I could see all the bad buys or my objective, but not both on the same overlay. The rest of the menus and interface were all nice enough and loaded quite fast.
Miami Vice had its own musical genre back in the 80ís and the PSP game brings some great tunes to the table. I have no complaints with the soundtrack at all.
Sound effects are mainly weapons and those all sound remarkably similar despite the wide selection of weapons in this game. Of course the entire sound presentation is several taken down a notch with the excessive cursing from the bad guys. I know itís an M-rated game and criminals probably curse in real-life but I donít think they keep yelling the same derogatory comments during each reload. It was annoying, then funny, then annoying again.
You can play as either Crockett or Tubbs so I guess that means you get to place the game at least twice assuming you enjoyed it enough to play it once. Anyone with any skill can walk all over this title in 6-8 hours, but you probably wonít come back.
There is a two-player co-op mode that requires both players to have a copy of the game. You can then drop in and out of a game session at any time.
Miami Vice: The Game might make a good budget title someday, but as a full-priced PSP game, this is one boring shooter that can stay on the shelf until the price drops. The game is short and easy, combined with troublesome controls and bland visuals that donít do justice to the wonderful material the game is based on.