Properly brutal games. Have we had that many? Yes, I know there are lots of gory titles out there, and fans of the headshot have a LOT to choose from, but games that keep it all nastily realistic?
That's the sector True Crimes appears to be plumping for, as demonstrated by the sneaky preview I had recently. Maybe I've just not played enough of this sort of genre but there's a quite shocking - and shamefully enjoyable - harshness to, for example, being able to break somebody's arm in a scuffle or planting their face into a conveniently located wall. The slamming the head in the freezer door is a nice touch too...
Details of the title are fairly limited at the moment - but we'll bring you more as we hear of them - but this reboot of the title is set in Hong Kong. A "photo realistic" Hong Kong, we understand, although the developers, United Front (yep, them of the oh so similar Mod Nation Racers fame) have admitted they've made a few tweaks to make it more of a game environment. We're assuming that means a few more piles of cardboard boxes to knock over, balconies slightly closer together so you can jump the divide, etc.
Anyway, you play an undercover cop on the trail of a violent Triad gang. To convince the underworld that you're not a cop you've got to think, act and kill like a ruthless gang member. Judging by the moves I saw, this is going to be quite easy to do.
The scene we were shown is a raid on a cocaine factory. No, you're right, this isn't a title that's going to get a LEGO makeover anytime soon.
Your protagonist arrives on a motorbike and charges through the front door. And that's where the mayhem begins.
Starting with a dumpster throw - we like - the action rattles along quickly. With what appears to be a free ranging approach, a matter of seconds sees undercover guy dispatch the rough justice listed above in a manner that sees multiple assailants attack. The wall slam and arm break see a couple off, the head in the freezer door finishes a third, another has a leg broken in graphic style. Given the nature of these, you can probably tell what happens to the bloke you nick a meat cleaver from. There's some nice sliding over tables too.
Dialogue appears suitably gritty - "come here fucker" is one of the more to-the-point lines I can remember, and it looks rather slick. After nicking a gun - he's pretty handy, your undercover chap - you get into a firefight, that requires a degree of patience and Unchartered-style crouching. There's something very pleasing about that, and it really gives True Crime a feel of a John Woo actioner.
The free-ranging nature of the game, on the evidence of this one level / scene, looks to be pretty good, particularly when it comes to props. Everything seems to be usable, as demonstrated by edges of tables, hard floors, brick structures, freezer doors, etc. You can clamber up crates or even use a passer-by / random bad guy as a shield.
On this evidence, limited as it is, we're looking at something potentially very good indeed. The voicework should be good - Tom Wilkinson adding some class, plus old fave Sammo Hung and James Hong also providing some weight - the graphics are slick, particularly the settings, and the full-on, beat-em-up engine appears to be very well done indeed.
The only catch at the moment, aside from not playing more scenes / levels, is that there's no set release date other than "Autumn". Still, head-squashing, bone-crunching, cleaver-related violence is what Christmas is all about, right?