Review By: Siou Choy
|# Of Players:||1 (2-16 online)|
|Accessories:||Xbox Live (online play), Memory Unit, Dolby Digital 5.1|
Wow. With the plethora of games weighing down the shelves of retailers everywhere, one comes to expect a whole crapload of cheap imitations, quickie knockoffs, and just plain all-around lousy games. But every once in a while, one comes along that just knocks you back in your chair, makes you slap your forehead in disbelief, and sit there wide-eyed and shaking your head in amazement that anyone, anywhere, would actually have the balls to release such a piece of crap.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner!
Presumably slapped together overnight (by an unholy alliance of five development teams, yet!) to cash in on the surprise success of 50 Cent: Bulletproof, 25 to Life doesn't even add up to the half measure its derivative title implies (25…half of 50…get it? Oh, forget it, go back to your hip-hop records; this is obviously beyond your intellectual capabilities…). One of the crappiest games I've had the misfortune of touching since the days of the original PlayStation (and perhaps even earlier than that), 25 to Life must set some kind of record, somewhere, for all-time worsts. Then again, maybe it's not even "good-bad" enough to rank that somewhat dubious distinction…
The game opens up with a poorly animated video where some schlub (your main playable character #1, the rather stupidly named "Freeze") goes home to his crappy little apartment, cheap, ghettolicious moron of an old lady and snot-nosed kid, only to get taken out on the carpet about his dope dealing ways. In true rap record fashion, he bitches about how he "gots to make the paper", but dang if she ain't walkin' out on his sorry gangsta ass. So he calls his old thug life pal Shaun Calderon (apparently, whoever named him couldn't decide whether he was a cheesy but loveable Irish 70's pop star or a Hispanic dope dealer), who proceeds to send him on that typically fatal "one last mission" (nice friends this guy's got, eh?), which of course turns out to be a setup. As the game starts, you are "Freeze", shooting your way through a veritable army of blue suited hogs, trying to make your way out of a bad situation, probably not helped by the fact that the last thing "Freeze" does in the video is to dump the money in a dumpster while fleeing…
Some judicious application of prestidigitatious obfuscation in the graphics department might have served 25 to Life's plethora of developers better, by taking the focus off just how lousy a game they really foisted on the buying public, but as things stand, the game's fairly piss-poor graphics offer little to hide its ultimately substandard gameplay. In plain English, sometimes a nice looking game can make you forget that your character moves like a moron and that your interactions with other characters or objects are difficult, to say the least. 25 to Life in no way manages that little feat, with lousy graphics failing to mask the extremely poor game mechanics, which make their presence felt from every conceivable angle. The biggest gameplay bugaboo lies in the fact that aiming is accomplished by use of the right thumbstick, which does an absolutely horrible job of tracking your character (or your opponents) as you run around, leaving you open to being gunned down despite your best efforts at manual re-centering. This is particularly noticeable in the frequent gunplay sequences, wherein you find you have to place 5 or more headshots to each of your blue suited moron opponents, while the camera (and subsequently your aim) swings about you (and the screen) wildly. The end result is that beating each mini-level of 25 to Life (a chore in and of itself) becomes little more than an exercise in which of you (your character or the thin blue liners) can pump more bullets out fastest.
Use of the crouch and "lean" options are supposed to offer a "stealth-based" edge in shooting around corners or over cars, boxes, drums, et al, but of course, this option proves basically worthless. Your character doesn't lean far out enough to actually see or sight anyone (at best, you can get in a shot or two this way, but never a kill), and if you do move him to the point where he actually can lean out far enough to be of any effect whatsoever, he will inevitably end up pumped full of bullets. Being able to take hostages as a human shield also sounded like a great idea, but once again proves useless, as our would-be public defenders appear to have no moral issues whatsoever in gunning down your hostages in cold blood just to get at you.
Oh, did I mention you apparently get to play as Shaun Cassidy…I mean, Calderon, later in the game, should you so desire? Or for the "right minded" among us, you can even play as one of the pigs, one "detective Lester Williams" (I'll save the Willie Tyler and Lester jokes for another time, though they do seem to be all too appropriate at the present juncture). Did I mention that I don't care?
25 to Life sucks.
Posted: 2006-03-05 12:12:21 PST