It’s hard to believe that it’s been 14 years since Quentin Tarantino’s landmark heist movie announced that a striking new talent was on the scene, and even more of a mystery why it’s taken this long for a game based on the film to see the light of day.
Not that the concept doesn’t come without built-in problems. The first is living up to the fans’ expectations, the second is what to feature (bearing in mind most of the film has the surviving gang members arguing in the post-raid warehouse) and then there’s the issue of violence and censorship, etc.
Well, the movie fans will probably be disappointed that only Michael Madsen from the original cast has loaned his voice for the game and that the other gangsters’ features bear little resemblance to reality.
The actors hired to play the roles here do, in fairness, make more than reasonable attempts to emulate Buscemi, Keitel et al (especially in the familiar cut-scenes) but surely more could have been done to get the graphics right. You do get all of the original soundtrack, though, which is unarguably cool.
In terms of the gameplay, the developers have (wisely) decided to ‘recreate’ the events surrounding the scenes in the film, thus explaining how Mr Blonde got back to the warehouse with the kidnapped cop Marvin and where Mr Pink hid the diamonds.
The ‘missions’ are played out in a random timeline – like the film – and are of two types. You either have to get out of the jewellery store and back to the rendezvous on foot or you have to drive there, fighting off the cops in either scenario.
How you do this is up to you. The Professional approach is to take a hostage and persuade the armed opposition (either security guards, regular cops or SWAT hard men) to lay down their weapons and let you go. The more frenzied Psychopath route involves shooting everything that moves (more fun, shorter life expectancy), or you can tread the middle line as a Career Criminal which is a mixture of the two.
The main advantage of the Psychopath mode is you can build up your adrenaline level to the point where you’re rewarded with a Bullet Festival – in other words a Max Payne-type slo-mo bloodbath, where you see the people you’ve targeted being blown away when you return to real time.
To be honest, the only real attraction in this game is the use of hostages, as each of the three law enforcement agencies needs different levels of persuasion before they’ll put down their weapons, the SWAT guys needing you to use your particular character’s torture technique on the hostage before they’ll comply.
As for censorship, even though the Aussies have already banned the game, there’s more likely to be objections to the swearing than the actual violence, as the shooting episodes are certainly less offensive than in GTA: even the infamous ear-chopping episode happens mostly off-screen.