reviews\ Dec 11, 2002 at 7:00 pm

Minority Report - XB - Review

You can almost always count on director Steven Spielberg to release some kind of blockbuster filled with over-the-top special effects and big movie stars and this year’s Minority Report--with Tom Cruise--is no exception.  A sci-fi action film with an action-packed plot and an abundance of futuristic weapons, this definitely is a great setting for a game.  However, this is not always the case but will Minority Report for the Xbox prove to be an exception?  Allow me to continue.


The year is 2054 and law enforcement officials are using dormant psychics to predict a crime before it even occurs.  Gamers assume the roll of the Tom Cruise’s character (who is not modeled at all after Mister Cruise) Captain John Anderton of the Precrime Division as he foils homicides before they are committed.  One day, the psychics see Anderton committing a murder and force him to go on the run, fighting those men he has served with.  Unable to shake the idea that this was a set-up, he attempts to find the truth behind this as he eludes his own men and an agent determined on pinning the future crime on him.


You begin the game doing your duty and attempting to catch a man before he sets out to kill and this gives gamers a chance to get a feel for the controls--that is, if they haven’t already went through the two training courses.   Still, this is the kind of game that leads you by the hand and takes you through key elements of the movie as well as throwing in its own unique spin.  Some levels require you to clear a room of enemies while another has you running past guards directly to the exit.  You also get to strap on a jetpack and fly your way to different areas.  Scattered throughout the game are secrets, items and money signs that gamers can collect to purchase new fighting moves, weapon upgrades and health items from the black market.  


Fighting is done rather well and is somewhat similar to Spider-Man: The Movie with shades of Dead to Rights.  Anderton is well-trained in hand-to-hand combat and can punch and kick goons around rather easily.  He can also unleash a string of attack combos that allows him to also grab an enemy and toss him against something or out a window.  He can also easily target an enemy with a weapon such as the concussion rifle (that shoots a blast similar to the one seen in the movie) and riot impact shotgun that shoots impact pellets (after all, Anderton doesn’t want to kill his men).


The game’s problems are few but they do stand out and very often get in the way.  For example, gamers must constantly swing the camera around to see where Anderton is facing--a chore that can be a bit annoying at times.  Another problem is that the enemy AI makes for a poor challenge when it comes to fighting.  An opponent might blindly run blindly into your line of fire or shoot at you while a fellow officer gets directly in the way.  And, for a man who protests that he’s not a killer, he unflinchingly tosses fellow officers out of windows or rooftops.


The graphics can be both wonderful and rather plain, but overall they really aren’t all that bad.  Certain key locations look straight out of the film itself, especially the Precrime Division Headquarters with its spiraling walkways and see-through offices.   Still there is a plainness about the location--although there are breakable objects throughout--and there are places that could have benefited from some minor details.  The characters themselves, while not resembling the actors that played them in the film, look decent enough . . . that is until they get knocked out.  Characters tend to go so limp that it looks as if they lost their skeleton--and all you did was punch their lights out!


There is some really stellar voice acting found in this game, particularly from actor Clancy Brown who does the voice of Anderton quite nicely . . . although it would have been great if Tom Cruise provided his voice at least.  The sound effects found in the game do not prove to be worthy of note since all you’ll hear is the sound of muffled punches and the occasional blast from your concussion rife or energy blaster.  The music is not bad either, although it does not pick up during the action as it does during cut scenes.


Minority Report is a poorly translated movie-to-game title that offers very little in challenging levels and what little fun there is here is not nearly enough.  There was much potential here to make an interesting and fun action game had they concentrated more on level design than making sure the scenes follow the movie faithfully.  This is a rental for those who found the movie’s setting interesting, but don’t expect a lengthy game. 


#Reviewer's Scoring Details


Gameplay: 6.0
The fighting mechanics are pretty basic but still fun enough to enjoy for a little while.  You can perform combos or grab enemies and send punches to their mid section or toss them across the room or at another enemy.   You can stomp on a fallen enemy or pick them up and use them as a human shield.  Targeting enemies is easy, although sometimes it’s odd how it doesn’t always target the enemy closer to you.


The game’s levels range from standard chases while fighting off goons to pushing through wave after wave of comrades to race to the exit.  There’s even a level where you can skip fighting altogether and jetpack your way through a series of closing doors in a metro station.  These levels are not very clever or unique.


Graphics: 7.0
The graphics are quite decent and there are certain things that stand out more wonderfully than other things.  For example, the environments might brilliantly capture key locations from the films; but then again there are areas that are plain-looking and lack detail. 


Anderton is not the youthful hero that Tom Cruise portrays but he does look great during cut scenes and during that action.  Many of the characters in the game do not resemble any actors so gamers will not be able to identify the characters.  The characters in the game move around naturally, this is, until something knocks them down.  People have the tendency to go completely unrealistically limp. 


Sound: 6.2
The strongest element of the sound is the voice acting that is delivered excellently with actor Clancy Brown bringing Anderton to life.  The game’s sound effects are also nicely reproduced from the film, especially many of the weapons and the jetpack.  And while the fighting effects are quite average, it’s great to hear glass shatter into dozens of pieces as you kick a goon through a window.  There’s a dramatic score that does a great job of setting the mood, but it hardly ever changes with the action during the game.


Difficulty: Medium
While many of the game’s enemies come in pairs, defeating them is never quite a challenge.  However, many times they would attack in groups--many of them armed with batons of guns--so it is their numbers that overwhelm you rather than their fighting skills.  The armed robots can pose something of a threat but it’s nothing an upgrades weapon couldn’t handle.  Occasionally you will encounter a tough opponent that’s like a level boss--this is when the game really offers a challenging fight.  Other then that, the enemy AI is not intelligent enough to prove to be much of a threat.


Concept: 5.0
The game’s futuristic setting and interesting storyline has all the makings of a great game--especially since gamers can play through the scenes with the neat jetpack.  The problem is that the game seems to want to lead you quickly through the levels to get to the bottom of this story and it doesn’t leave much room to enjoy your surroundings.


Overall: 6.0
Sadly, Minority Report does not have the same high-flying thrills as the film version and it definitely does not offer much of a real challenge either.  Rent this one if you want a quick weekend game to play.

Above Average

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