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
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
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
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.
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.