Ever since the introduction of Grand Theft Auto the gaming world has changed. It’s now considered ?cool? to play video games, and we even have two awards shows now that simply degrade the entire hobby. While this certainly has its advantages, such as more exposure and money for developers to make great games, we also have the horrible downside of seeing games that try to simply cash in on the popularity of others. This is where 25 To Life excels in almost every category. It’s been a long time since a game has been this bad, and the sad part is it will probably sell millions simply based on similarities to another cultural phenomenon. What’s odd is that this game has very little in common with the aforementioned title, and in fact outside of firing a gun the two are polar opposites. While I am sure there are plenty of people claiming to love this game, read on and find out why this is one title you will want to steer clear of.
25 To Life is a third-person action game that follows the path of three main characters, Shaun Calderon, Detective Lester Williams, and Andre Freeze Francis. You will start the game off following Freeze who simply wants to put the thug life in his past, but unfortunately for him his family is kidnapped by the people who he used to call friends and he is forced into fighting to try and escape the life of a gangster. Apparently this involves shooting tons of police officers, police officers that in fact have the intellect of a four year old. The first level in the game is basically the ?training? portion and consists of running from point A to point B mowing down officers that do little more than duck and fire. While this may not sound so bad, to make matters worse the aiming system is broken, the controls are unmanageable, and the graphics make Bad Boys: Miami Take Down look like Splinter Cell.
The first thing you’ll notice is that nothing feels special; nothing in the game differentiates itself from every other third-person action title that has come before it. In fact if anything, 25 To Life takes several steps back in the genre by giving you limited combat and a very small amount of maneuvers to perform. All of these factors lead to some pretty boring combat overall and really make the game feel more like a chore than anything else. There are a bevy of weapons in the game such as pistols, SMGs, and of course the standard Molotov cocktail, but just like everything else in this game it has all been done before and in most cases much, much better.
The game seriously suffers from control issues starting with the most important aspect of any shooting game, aiming. The on-screen reticule seems to have a mind of its own at times, and you will find yourself frustrated over and over as you try to get your sights set on the enemy while he’s laying into you without missing a beat. Of course aiming may be the AI?s only strength as you will often see them running into walls and even directly into your line of fire, which is about the only time you can hit them on the first shot. Later in the game you will also fight alongside other characters with the same un-magnificent intelligence, never noticing where you are. They will still squeeze off rounds even if your head is the one dead center in their crosshairs.
If that isn?t enough to dissuade you from buying this pile of garbage, lets talk about the visuals. The next generation of gaming is just around the corner, but this title proves that the last generation of gaming is still here. That?s right, 25 To Life looks great — for a PS1 title. The character models look like they were ripped from one of those commercials you see on TV for game design and the environments look like abstract paintings that were sketched by a deranged monkey. Sure the PS2 and Xbox are several years old, but releasing something this bad on either console is simply an insult to game design. This is expected from a budget title, not from a game that charges full price and is banking off of the popularity of ?thug? culture. Simply put, the graphics in this game are some of the worst that you will find.
While I may not be the biggest fan of rap music, the soundtrack is one of the few things that done right. I suppose if you enjoy paying forty bucks for a CD of your favorite songs then 25 To Life might actually be worth it. That is where the praise ends however as the rest of the sound package matches up well with the rest of the game. Awful voice-overs top it off with more forced uses of the F-bomb than any other game and even enemies and bystanders that continue to talk long after they have had a .45 in their cranium. The sound effects are reminiscent of those budget CD’s at the computer store chock full of standard effects that have been used repeatedly over the years.
There is also an online portion of the game, which is where you will want to spend most of your time if you were unfortunate enough to purchase it. You can customize your character with an impressive array of options and head online with up to 16 players. While the inclusion of online was certainly appreciated, the game still falls short because of the questionable aiming and lack of cover maneuverability. There are 16 stages to choose from and the Robbery and Raid modes can provide a small amount of enjoyment. The online mode still basically consists of the spray and pray philosophy. You will basically wail on the buttons and move around without worrying too much about strategy, which quickly creates a dull experience.
This game simply cannot be recommended to anyone: the controls are busted, the AI is pathetic, and even with online play you will grow tired of it within an hour. Unfortunately the gangster aesthetic will help sell this game. Hopefully next time they will actually attach a good game to the theme or they will end up with the same reputation as the Resident Evil clones (that is, not very good). Avoid this game at all costs if you value the life of your console, there are far more games worth your forty bucks.