Even in daily life, friends say I'm an aggressive driver. I believe the pedal belongs with the metal. If I were also a former street hood turned cop with a reckless disregard for human life, then I might star in the latest installment of Activision's Grand Theft Auto look-alike franchise, True Crime: New York City.
As big as it was, I didn't really care for the first game in the series, True Crime: Streets of L.A., which re-created the entire street plan of Los Angeles. Navigation was a major problem and you spent far too much of your time watching freeway exit signs go by, muttering things like, "Wait, was that it? Crap, I dunno. What's that sign say?"
This time around Activision gives the Big Apple the every-nook-and-cranny treatment—with better results. True Crime: New York City is easier to navigate and has improved controls, but the most entertaining thing about it is the pedestrians. They all talk like Ratso Rizzo, all the time. "Fuck you, buddy!" is a common statement, as is the egalitarian "Fuck me!," plus "Screw you asshole!" and the alarmingly specific "Get moving, cock!" They belt out lines like this whenever you swerve your car onto the sidewalk or topple a lamppost. Given that this happens about once every six seconds, that's a lot of Fuck! Shit! Cock! emerging from your speakers.
Fortunately, the new game has other improvements beyond cursing. Streets of L.A. swiftly exhausted its list of random crimes, leading you to constantly face the same scenarios over and over, but True Crime: New York City does randomness a lot better. It also gets you out of the streets—crimes take you into apartments, banks, grocery stores, and other staples of the Steven Bochco television dynasty. You'll defuse bombs, save hostages, and generally kick ass.
The kicking ass, in fact, is much improved. The fighting controls are better than before, and could arguably be referred to as "almost fun." On the other hand, you'll still chase the same guy around the block eight times and never be able to tackle him successfully. (Hint: Shoot him.) The good cop/bad cop thing is also back, and better. Each neighborhood's crime rate is influenced by your behavior, so you can walk tall and make the streets safe or take bribes, extort dealers, peddle contraband, and watch the 'hood go to hell around you.
True Crime: New York City delivers where its predecessor failed. It doesn't have the scope of the latest Grand Theft Auto, but if you can't get enough of GTA's trademark mix of drunken-sailor racing and semi-fun combat then this should keep you busy. Just don't bother me when I'm driving. Fuck! Shit! Cock!