E3 2010: True Crime Preview

The True Crime series achieved some degree of success, but never really took off the way some people expected it to. Now, United Front Games and Activision are bringing the series back, and are calling it a franchise reboot. I got a chance to sit through a presentation of the title at E3 yesterday, and I learned that True Crime takes place in Hong Kong, as players take on the role of undercover detective Wei Shen. Shen was born in Hong Kong, then moved to San Francisco, and finally moved back to Hong Kong. After joining the police force in Hong Kong, he’s tasked with infiltrating a Triad organization, and that’s where this story begins.

The member of the game’s development team that walked me through the game told me that their biggest inspiration was classic Hong Kong cinema. With True Crime, they’re trying to recreate the feel of classic Asian action flicks, and for the short period of time that the game was shown to me, I certainly thought they succeeded at what they were trying to achieve. From the cinematic chase sequences, to the stylistic fight sequences, the game truly feels like an action movie.

So the game is based in Hong Kong, and the city is divided into 4 regions. Your sandbox consists of the central commercial district, the North Point markets, the Aberdeen fishing village, and Kennedy town. As for the protagonist (Shen) he’s being pegged as a character who does bad stuff because he has to, but he’s actually a good person. In other words, players will be able to sympathize with him. I can’t really say whether or not it’ll be easy to sympathize with him because I saw very little of the game, but I’m sure we’ll find that out when people actually get to play True Crime.

Some of the people that are working on True Crime have previously worked on the Need for Speed franchise, so a big emphasis was place on the driving. During the presentation, they drove a car in one level and rode a motorbike in another. I was told that all the vehicles handle really well, but I think I’ll reserve judgement until I get some hands-on time with the game, as it’s hard to judge how vehicles handle until you drive them.

I have to say that the coolest aspect of the game that was shown during the presentation was the very last driving sequence. The player was trying to drive away from the Triads, but they kept shooting at him. When shooting while driving, time slowed down whenever the player passed by a Triad member, and this allowed for aiming at specific body parts. As it turns out, the slow down is for cinematic effect, so you can’t just press a button whenever you want to slow time down. Still though, it looks incredible, despite the fact that it can’t be invoked by players.

For the most part, this reboot of True Crime looks very good. Having said that, I’d love to get some hands-on time with the title before I can officially say that I’m looking forward to it. Overall, I’d say the game shows a lot of promise, and it’s certainly worth keeping an eye on. Look for True Crime to punch and shoot its way onto store shelves this fall.