PC Reviews: Bad Boys II

Truth be told, the Hollywood action flick should make for a pretty good shooter game. Youve got gunfights, snappy banter, giant explosions, car chases good clean fun. However, as evidenced by history these never seem to translate well to the gaming scene, be it due to pressure from the studio to match the movies release date or just failing to capture whatever made the mental fluff of the movie palatable. As a case in point of the latter scenario, Empire Interactive and Blitz Games have released Bad Boys II as a testament to how truly cringe-inducing such a translation can be.

Similar to the movie premise, a flood of narcotics is making life generally unsafe for impressionable youngsters in the streets of Miami, and its up to the TNT police squad to stem the flow. As to what exactly the TNT is comprised of, aside from wise-cracking cops with insecurity complexes the size of a small former-Soviet nation, one cannot say. For all the police work done in this game the player might as well be part of a vigilante organization, with standard investigation techniques comprised of kicking down doors and shooting people in the face. The players law enforcement prowess is graded by the amount of disarms, killings, or flat-out executions they perform in the progress of the level. In addition to these, property damage is also tallied up, with positive and negative scores grading the player with an assessment ranging from Super Cop to Bad Boy. This has no impact in the gameplay whatsoever but does provide one of the few compelling goals in the game.

This is not to say there isnt a paper-thin foundation of police work. Over the course of the level one can find pieces of evidence, although these are strictly used to unlock various extras such as shooting range challenges, mug shots, gun descriptions, etc. Evidence comes in the form of giant wads of cash lying on the ground, unrefined narcotics, refined narcotics, and brutally obvious clues as to where the enemy may be found on the next level. The latter is usually comprised of such things as bank vault plans, art gallery flyers, unique chemical compounds that can only be found in one factory in town generally speaking, if real criminals were this stupid there would be a lot less crime in the world. Regardless, not finding these key hints as to the Machiavellian scheme unfolding does not obstruct or slow the progression of levels in the slightest.

Gameplay is something of a study in developer sadism, what with the AI having preternatural awareness and accuracy. One can quietly approach a closed doorway, take up a position on either side and peek in, to be rewarded with six different enemies unloading lead in the avatars forehead. Fortunately, the opponents are rather frail and have a satisfactory means of hit detection, with headshots instantly ending the life of any non-boss characters, and the ability to disarm ones opponents by shooting the weapon out of their hands. Barring that, a room can be cleared quite easily by tossing a grenade through the doorway although this does naturally incur significant property damage. The player is armed with a varying assortment of unremarkable weaponry ranging from pistols to automatics, rifles and the aforementioned explosives. Missions have a bit of variety to them with the player either running solo or teamed up with the accompanying partner, interspersed with the occasional protective sniper mission. Generally speaking the presence of the other character only means the player has to work harder to keep them alive, as they contribute little and soak up buckshot like a sponge.

Insofar as graphics and engine, one may find this to be an impressively unpleasant game to look at. With levels comprised entirely of a series of squarish corridors and boxy rooms, festooned in unpleasant textures and bland visuals, these graphics bring an almost nostalgic taste of late 90s level design. The faintly redeeming points are the destructible structure and object elements, which are fairly common and somewhat satisfying. Tossing a grenade or unloading a clip into a room full of office furniture or electronics renders them down to their component elements, with accompanying bursts of electricity or flame. As for the character models, the player may come under the impression that this game is populated entirely by sentient mannequins on loan from the Planet of the Apes. Animations are stiff and static, with enemy NPCs frantically running around like heavily armed bewildered antelope.

As to the sounds, aside from the predictably flavorless hip-hop theme, the first thing any gamer picking up this title will notice is the constantly jarring and humorless banter between the two main characters. Even in solo missions the player is not spared these tender audio ministrations, with constant radio contact narrating the varied perceived physical and sexual inadequacies of Marcus and Mike. As much as this is a trademark of the movies, the writing for the quips found in the game is abhorrently juvenile and flailing, lacking any redeeming or comedic value. This is exacerbated by the fact that Will Smith and Martin Lawrence couldnt be corralled into the project, resulting in some uninspired unaccredited voiceovers, suggesting that development team members stepped in to fill the roles.

Overall, this title is one more shoddy Hollywood franchise license following in the footsteps of numerous predecessors. With uninspired gameplay, sloppy controls, unattractive graphics and a tired and tested storyline, theres really no reason anyone should have to be burned by this title, but thanks to an all-platform release thats pretty much an assured course of events.

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