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Activision Gives True Crime A New Developer And Direction

Activision already announced plans to reboot its open world action series, but True Crime’s appearance at GDC 10 is the first time the company has given us a peek. With former developer Luxoflux out of the picture, the publisher has called upon the talents of new studio United Front Games, which is also working on the PlayStation 3 exclusive Mod Nation Racers.

This new version of True Crime wipes the slate clean from the previous two titles in every way – a new proprietary engine, a new narrative direction, and a new tone that leaves the campy action of its predecessors in the rearview mirror. Where the first games focused heavily on branching narrative paths and a cop morality system, the True Crime reboot boasts a linear story. Set in the inner city of Hong Kong, players will experience a crime story not unlike Chinese cinema hits like Infernal Affairs, which was remade in the States by Martin Scorcese and retitled The Departed.

While the story drops the branching paths and good cop/bad cop shtick, one thing remains similar to the first two games: this reboot still features a cop protagonist. But as our demo started, it became obvious that leading man Wie Shen's approach to police work is less than squeaky clean. Shen is in deep undercover within one of the Hong Kong Triad gangs, working for a lieutenant named Winston while gathering intel on gang activities. When Winston finds out that a rival Triad member named Dog Eyes has messed with his family, he flips his lid and demands revenge. Shen reminds him that the boss, Uncle Po, will likely frown on this inter-organization retaliation, so Winston sends Shen to preserve the a key figure who may be caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Much in the vain of a Grand Theft Auto game, the mission starts with the Triad gang driving to the destination in a pimped out SUV. As Shen navigates to the target location, the NPCs inside the car have conversations with him to help fill the time. United Front Games says that there are over 30,000 lines of dialogue in the game, and over two hours of cut scenes, which means you’ll rarely be left staring mindlessly through the passenger window. Arriving at the destination, the group moves in and Shen breaks off to find Siu Wah, a heroin expert who to not be harmed unless Winston wants to feel the wrath of Uncle Po.

As the groups go head to head and the roundhouses start flying, Shen demonstrates that he definitely knows how to fight. Because True Crime is set in Hong Kong, where gun laws are stringent and firearms are scarce, the game places less focus on shootouts in favor of hand-to-hand combat and weapon melee with improvisational tools like knives and cleavers. (Don't worry; there are still plenty of guns to shoot in the game.) While doing research on the Triads, United Front discovered that the gangs prefer to slice its enemies, and the combat definitely reflects this.

Shen is also a skilled martial artist. From stylish roundhouse kicks to brutal finishing moves, Triad grunts stand no chance against his lightning fast attacks. The environments play a large part in the fistfights, in which Shen often finds himself drastically outnumbered not unlike Altair or Enzo in Assassin’s Creed. To even out the odds, Shen makes creative use of his surroundings. As he fights is way from room to room, we watch him smash heads with freezer doors, bash enemies into crates with a running dash, and even push one unlucky fool into a fuse box, which yields some shocking results.

For United Front, the focus on the on-foot portions of the game is very important if True Crime is to differentiate itself from other open-world games. But that doesn’t mean that driving is left for dead. The developer has brought in talent from many other Vancouver studios, including some who have worked on Need for Speed. The team is proud that the driving portions feel more like Burnout instead of giving vehicles the heavy feel of other open world titles. Wie Shen is just as good behind the wheel as he is with his fists, and can pull off tricky stunts. As he chases Siu Wah away from the ambush, Shen takes leap of faith from a high-speed motorcycle onto Wah’s getaway car.

For an open-world game to succeed, United Front is aware that the title needs to feature more than just a linear story. To supplement its tale of an undercover cop who bends the rules for the greater good, the developer is creating many side activities that will give gamers plenty to do along the way. With external cases that tie to the main storyline, dating, gambling, and street racing, players will have many options to explore in between story missions. Other open world staples will be present as well, such as radio stations, day/night cycles, different neighborhoods, and more. True Crime is slated for release this Fall on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC.

Be sure to check out the GDC 2010 hub page for quick access to more news and hands-on impressions straight from the event in San Francisco, CA.

  • I don't know, this does sound/ look decent, but the old titles were such crap that I don't know if I CBF to care/ fork over the $. I guess I'll take the wait and see approach, see what the reviews say and then possibly rent it.

    *Edit: now that I'm looking through all the pictures, the figures look good, but the lighting seems off (in that it's the same in all the settings, no matter how light or dark the setting seems to be).

  • though I might be the only one I think there should at least be a cameo by Nick Kang. I liked him in the first one.

  • Actually, on second thought - given the publisher, and the bad taste the earlier titles left in my mouth, I'mma go ahead and pass on this one.

  • This could be good. I couldn't really get into the first True Crime, but I enjoyed TC: New York City.

  • I'm feeling meh-ish on this. Add to that, it's published by Activision and frankly I don't feel like making them any richer so...pass.

    Besides, it doesn't seem like it will be doing much to set it apart from the rest of the pack anyway. Plus, I'm kinda tired of the whole good "bad" cop thing..then again, I was never into cop stuff anyway.

  • @Snista1

    Yea Nick Kang kickd az and he was funny. Hope they let you upload songs directly into the gameplay like they did in the other ones for the xbox

  • @ akbirdman:

    i'm with you all the way on the hesitation thing.

    but i think in defense of the developer - it looks like the screenshots all come from the same environment, so it makes sense that the lighting would look similar throughout.  hopefully, the characters don't have that same "glow" when immersed in sunlight (some other games seem to do that, and i hate it!) - i'm with you on that.

  • It looks pretty cool.  I'd hate to boycott a good game because I'm mad at Activision for the last weeks HUGE MISTAKE.

  • Well, as I think I alluded to: the fact (or widely accepted/held opinion) that the older games were crap is actually a bigger factor than the fact that I'm reticent to give Activision any more money if I can avoid it. A great game would be such a case in which "I couldn't avoid it."

  • i never cared for the first one on xbox,so i just might pass on this as well,unless it does something that hooks me.

  • I always thought the series had alot of untapped potential,so Im pretty excited too see where they go with it.


  • Expert


    You can listen to your own music with any Xbox 360 game. It's part of the console this time around.

  • I'm not going to give anymore money to Activision.

  • he called the main character in AC 2 "enzo" i thought his name was "Ezio"  you fail sir

  • think i'm going to have to pass

  • I'm not sure on this one this could be either really good or really bad

  • If they make it like True Crime New York it'll be amazing, LA just seemed like it was trying to hard to be a GTA game

  • Thought the first game was great, but didn't enjoy the second one very much. Its been too long for me to remember why I didn't like the second, but I'll keep my hopes up for Part 3!

  • Hmm..I'm a little more interested in how this game sounds as opposed to Mafia II. It sounds like it could turn out to have a pretty cool direction, and keeps away from becoming so similar to GTA games that it takes away from the fun of it.

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