Reviewed: March 11, 2006
Released: November 22, 2005
My four-word review of Crime Life: Gang Wars: "avoid like the plague."
Still here? Okay, well I guess I can go into more detail, painful, as it will be for all of us. Unless you're one of those masochistic types, then you might get a kick out of this game and the review. But don't say I didn't warn you.
Crime Life: Gang Wars, is apparently Konami's latest take on the beat-em-up genre. But it fails miserably, in just about every way imaginable. Take an edgy gangsta theme, like Grand Theft Auto. Now remove all the fun. Remove the cars. Remove the engaging story. Remove any semblance of good controls. Take it all away and leave a repetitive button masher with bad graphics and no soul, toss in some bugs, and you've got Crime Life: Gang Wars.
The story, as it is, pits you in the role of a street punk named Tre who joins up with a gang imaginatively named "Outlawz" and to prove your one of da boyz you gotta bust up some rival gangers in another creatively named gang, "Headhunterz". Along the way if you happen to have to kill innocent bystanderz, copz, and everyone else you see, well that's just life in the Hood (yes, that's the actual name of the neighborhood), digg.
Despite the promises on the back of the box, there's not a lot of freedom to do what you want in this game. You basically go on missions that involve killing. And stealing. And more killing. And lots of killing. Did I mention the killing? If you're into fake looking blood splatters you might get something out of the extreme amount of senseless violence, but even outright psychopaths are going to eventually get tired of the monotonous, endless cycle of the same old battles against the same old boring opponents over, and over, and over.
The controls are terrible, but not hard to figure out. You basically have two attacks, a hard and a soft, which are essentially useless, but you have a block button which also rarely does what you want, and you can use the modify button to do special moves that burn up your adrenaline meter. You get adrenaline back by doing normal punches, so combat just involves building up the meter then unleashing a can of whoop ass on your pixilated targets.
When your opponent's life meter drops to empty, you can issue a Mortal-Kombat-stolen fatality move. The fatality moves are fun in a sadistic way, the first five or six times you see it. Then it too becomes old and tired.
You'll eventually get involved in battles with so many opponents that you can barely tell what is happening on screen. The lack of a decent targeting system makes it pretty frustrating. Then you have your "helpers" who do nothing useful and just get in the way all of the time. You can give basic commands to your fellow partners in crime, but they still do more to hurt you than help.
To help break up the monotony you can pick up weapons, which can help you to do more damage faster, like swords and pipes and even guns. The guns pretty much are useless due to bad camera and impossible aiming. But the melee weapons can help, even though they really don't add anything interesting to the terrible gameplay, they just make it possible to endure more of it.
Sometimes the game is helpful and tells you what you need to do and where to go to complete your missions, while at other times, your only hint is a minor mention in one of your 'emails'. So in some cases you'll wander around aimlessly, not knowing what to do next. Not that you'll really care after about an hour or two.
The graphics in Crime Life Gang Wars look like the worst PS2 game you can think of. Maybe worse than some of the better PS1 games. The graphics are incredibly bland and blurry, and awkwardly animated. There's very little variety to the environments or your opponents. You will encounter graphical glitches that show up the poor quality control for this game. There's literally nothing to see here. Move along.
Horrible voice acting will keep you glued to your monitor as you cringe in anticipation of the next delivery of cheesy, over-the-top dialogue. If you're into rap music you might get some value out of the soundtrack, which has some 25 tunes to it, featuring D12, Doom Man, and Jason Flemyng. The sounds of the fighting, you know, the most important part of the game, are completely unconvincing and offer nothing to thrill.
If you need a $20 coaster, pick this up and toss the box or use it for another better game you've lost the box for. How did this game even get approved for the Xbox platform, and what was Konami thinking putting their otherwise fine name on this product?
If you like tasteless "edgy" games that have mind numbingly repetitive gameplay, then Crime Life: Gang Wars is right up your alley. If you're looking for an exciting, controversial game about urban violence, stick with Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas or The Warriors.