Minority Report - PS2 - Review
Last year’s Steven Spielberg sci-fi action film, Minority Report; took audiences on a wild futuristic ride with actor Tom Cruise as the leading action hero, John Anderton. While a Spielberg film can make for a great game, this is often not the case (see the classic E.T. game). Does Minority Report have what it takes to join the recent outcropping of excellent movie-to-game titles such as Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers?
The story takes place in the year 2054 where you assume the roll of John Anderton, the head of the Precrime division (and although this is Mr. Cruise’s role, the character looks nothing like him). In this future, homicides are prevented thanks to a trio of psychics--or Precogs that flash the image of the crime up on a monitor. After an arrest, a FBI agent pays Anderton a visit and soon after he witnesses the Precogs flashing an image of him killing a man he doesn’t even know. Sensing that perhaps the FBI agent set him up, Anderton decides to go on the run, attempting to prove his innocence in the progress.
First of all, I think I should point out that Anderton faces an army of fellow officers and other agents and in many cases he sends many of them to the hospital by way of fast kicks and powerful punches. The problem is that Anderton can just as easily kill fellow officers by kicking them off rooftops or throwing them through glass windows and down to their screaming deaths. It doesn’t make sense that a man that’s trying to prove his innocence (of killing only one man, mind you) is murdering coworkers and innocent security guards by the dozens.
The controls are fairly easy to manage, at least, and fighting is actually extremely entertaining. Anderton can unleash a number of punches and kicks as well as a few combo moves. You can grab a dazed officer and toss him through a pane of glass or throw him up against another enemy. You can also purchase new moves by collecting dollar signs scattered throughout the levels to buy new combo moves; shield upgrades and even weapons. You’ll need them since the enemy often attacks in groups and many of them are either armed with guns or batons. Anderton also has to deal with armed robots and the spyderbots that crawl on your body.
The game’s main problems are directed more at the levels than the action itself. There are plenty of levels that take you through many of the film’s settings and key scenes--although the game doesn’t really follow the film faithfully . . . a good thing, believe it or not. The game’s levels don’t really change or offer any refreshing change of pace such as adding a new challenge beyond the addition of a boss fight. To its credit, the game does throw in a few levels where Anderton uses a jetpack.
Its other problem is the camera, which has the nasty habit of always ending up in a position where you can’t see a thing. Your line of sight is almost always obstructed by a wall or foliage, leaving you defenseless until you swing the camera back into position. This is especially frustrating when you’re in the middle of a fight with a group of trained officers.
Visually the game is a bit on the bland side with several backgrounds that look rather plain for a game with plenty of interesting details scattered throughout. You’ll find several areas in the game that have been directly taken from the movie such as the Precrime Headquarters, Anderton’s apartment and the apartment where Anderton finally comes face-to-face with the man he is suppose to kill. The character models look decent during the game and even more so during the cut scenes. One of the game’s most unique visual features is that during fights, characters go unusually limp like rag dolls when they’re knocked around. While this effect might look cool, it’s really unrealistic when your enemy’s leg twists in an unnatural position.
Fortunately the sound is far better than the visuals with its great sound effects and good soundtrack. The sound effects are nicely detailed especially when you send an opponent through glass that shatters into pieces before you. Concussion rifles sound straight out of the movie itself as it sends your enemies slamming against walls or breakable objects. The soundtrack is also pretty good, setting the mood nicely during cut scenes or during the action. This is topped off by some decent voice acting, with the best work done by actor Clancy Brown who voices Anderton.
Ultimately, Minority Report is a great concept that just doesn’t fulfill what it set out to do: offer an exciting game taken from an exciting movie. With not-so spectacular graphics, problematic camera angles and repetitive action sequences, the game just doesn’t keep things interesting enough to keep you glued to the game. This is a recommended rental for those who like the sci-fi aspect of the game.
#Reviewer's Scoring Details
The game’s controls are thankfully easy to get into whether you’re fighting, using an arsenal of weapons or flying around with a jetpack. Combat is simple punches and a number of different kicks with the ability to toss people around or purchase new combat moves such as spin kicks and more powerful attack combos. The only thing that gets in the way of the action is the awful camera that often blocks your line of sight, forcing gamers to quickly spin the camera around to see what’s going on.
The levels are plentiful too, only they begin to seem repetitive even with the addition of some scattered boss fights and not-so challenging elements such as the time Anderton has to make his way through an air duct. In fact, the game is basically just a brawler. It’s only saving grace is that the fights themselves can be pretty entertaining in many parts in the game. Although it makes no sense that Anderton has no qualms about killing his colleagues.
While not bad, the graphics could have been a lot better. There are a lot of eye-catching details such as flashing screens and digital technology aplenty, but strangely enough certain backgrounds are really plain looking. There’s product placement everywhere (while Nokia and Lexus ads might be a bit too much, it does add a sense of realism to the environment).
The characters are rendered decently, even more so during animated cut scenes, although the “rag doll effect” takes away from the realism of the character’s movement’s (although, I’ll admit, the effect is great for a good laugh). The special effects are even as good as the movie’s effects, with the concussion rifle causing a ripple just like in the film.
The sound is made up of some really great sound effects, a perfect cinematic soundtrack and pretty decent voice acting. For starters, the sound effects are straight from the film itself--especially from the weapons featured in the movie as well as the futuristic sounds of digital technology that can be found throughout the many areas Anderton explores. The soundtrack also adds a nice touch to the story as it unfolds before you or during your fights with security guards--there’s even a song at the end by The Apex Theory.
The voice acting is also pretty decent with great voice acting from Clancy Brown (from the “Shawshank Redemption”) as well as Gabrielle Carteris (Andrea of “Beverly Hills, 90210” fame). There are times when the other actors aren’t able to match the great voice acting of both Brown and Carteris. In fact, the dialogue can come off as rather comical such as when you toss an officer off a building (producing an unconvincing “I’m falling!” cry).
While there’s no puzzle solving found in the game, Minority Report’s biggest challenge is in the brawling itself. The officers usually attack in groups, often lunging at you two at a time (or all at once if you manage to get them all in one spot). The enemy AI isn’t at all very bright at times but they can quickly overpower you if you’re not careful or if you allow the enemy with guns to fire. There are certain enemies that can also counter your attack or grip you in a bear hug and draining you of your energy. And the boss fights can be something of a challenge.
Not counting the Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers or the Spider-Man: The Movie game, not many games based on a film adapt well. Minority Report, unfortunately, doesn’t join both Spider-Man and Lord of the Rings. With a lot of great elements--such as the fascinating setting and futuristic gadgets such as the jetpack--the game had some wonderfully interesting possibilities it doesn’t take advantage of or at least offer an all-new story altogether.
Minority Report is a game with a lot of promise, especially since the story’s interesting plot just keeps introducing many different possibilities, yet it just doesn’t come close to being as fresh as the movie was or keeps you hooked with new ideas. Each level just feels like the last level you played, which is an unfortunate aspect that keeps the game from being truly inventive. Still, there are some pretty fun fights in this game that might be worth going through as a weekend rental.