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25 to Life Review
publisher: Eidos Interactive
developer: Avalanche Software
PIV 1400, 256MB, 2.5GB HDD, 64MB video card
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Jan 17, 06
|» All About 25 to Life on ActionTrip|
Completing Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was a satisfying experience. One of the best aspects of the game is that you always feel the urge to keep on playing. It makes you want to play through the whole thing, from your very first task, up to the point where you literally own every real estate in the city. Seeing the world from the eyes of a bad-ass gangster is fun and is probably what makes the game so tempting to play. Of course, most characters and events throughout the game are completely unrealistic to say the least. Still, that kind of made it even more enjoyable. The exceptional gameplay mechanics of Rockstar's action game soon rubbed off on other developers and it didn't take long before clones started popping up.
So much for the hostage...
These SWAT guys are really a pain in the ass.
Eidos Interactive, well-known for series like Tomb Raider and Hitman, is apparently worried about losing its grip on the North American market. By the way, the company also has three important titles on the way - Commandos: Strike Force, Hitman: Blood Money and Tomb Raider: Legends (all three games are likely to arrive this year). Anyway, 25 to Life is next on Eidos' agenda. As you probably guessed already, the game lets players undergo the excitement and dangers of crime life.
At the beginning players are introduced to a small-time gangster named Andre "Freeze" Francis. Recently things aren't going too well for Freeze. His wife and son never know if he's going to come back home with a new gold watch or just wind up in a body bag. Being on the very brink of despair, he decides to get out of "the game" for good, but before he does, he accepts one last job. As fate would have it, Calderon, his lifetime "homeboy" betrays him and Freeze ends up in the slammer... doing 25 to life. From hereon, the plot takes us through the lives of several different characters, from Freeze and Calderon, to a competent police officer named Lester Williams. Each of these playable characters has a unique background, but in one way or another, they remain connected to the main storyline.
The first issue with the game becomes apparent after the first two chapters of the story. Characters lack more depth in order to immerse players into the whole plot. All gangster fairytales aside, the 25 to Life narrative falls short of any interesting segments that could motivate players during the single-player mode. The game basically allows you to experience a vague and, for the most part, superficial tale, which unfolds randomly through the eyes of several completely different characters. It all feels rather dreary and incomplete, since most of the story is told via short mission briefings that appear prior to each chapter.
Perhaps this would be a good time to warn you that 25 to Life is M rated, which makes way for some gory scenes and quite a lot of violence. In some games, this can add that special "adult" flavor to the whole atmosphere, making things a bit more realistic and exciting for players. Unfortunately, this is not the case in 25 to Life. Violence is merely a tool to lure you into a story with absolutely no lasting values (then again, it wouldn't be the first time someone did that to attract gamers). But, provided you have the stomach to stick with the tedious story and pointless brutality, the next thing you'll encounter is the considerably flawed gameplay.
Initially, the most irritating aspect of the game is getting used to aiming. No matter how hard you try sometimes, it seems almost impossible to fire accurately. Plus, the AI has a very unrealistic way of moving around. Opponents can strafe endlessly and occasionally won't go down even when you fire several rounds straight at them. When they are not strafing, enemies can be completely unaware to your presence, giving you a chance to walk right up to them and blow them away. As I've said, from time to time, you might need to fire more than a few rounds to finish enemies off. Even when you're packing a serious-looking shotgun and you fire at close range, it can require more than three precise hits to take someone out - which is, of course, absurd, since firing a shotgun at point-blank range would normally turn anyone into minced meat. While aiming can be really frustrating, another problem awaits further down the line. Opponents are usually ridiculously accurate when they fire at you, even when they use sawed-off shotguns from a great distance. Another fascinating thing is that they also tend to show their dimwittedness by torching themselves with Molotov cocktails (!?!).
Friendly AI is just as slow. There are a few missions where players are accompanied by a brain-dead companion. Throughout these assignments, I found that my teammate is determined to take out as many opponents as possible, even if that meant blowing away his own partner (a.k.a. me). Seriously, God help you, if you get in the line of fire of an AI-controlled teammate.
Most of these drawbacks are apparent right away. For those of you who are willing to go deeper into the game, you will encounter additional flaws. The single-player mode is, obviously, story driven and quite linear. Sadly, you won't get a chance to choose alternate routes during the game. I fear the levels are also very confined and most of the missions are relatively short.
By now you've probably realized that using weapons in 25 to Life is not all that fun. If you manage to get used to the awkward aiming, you may find some comfort in the fact that the development team incorporated a wide variety of firearms. Players are free to use the AK-47, double Uzis, tactical shotguns, the RSG1 sniper rifle, various SMGs, grenades, rocket launchers and a range of melee weapons. Well, it was fun blowing up stuff, anyways.
3.2 Don't Bother
Some potential in the multiplayer, good soundtrack;
Don't get me started... the game's frustrating in almost every way.