Activision's True Crime series goes back to the drawing board with a Hong Kong action-adventure reboot, a game that puts the player in the role of an undercover cop, one who knows how to use a freezer door in a fight.
In True Crime, players infiltrate a low level Triad crime syndicate as Wei Shen, born in Hong Kong, Americanized and back in his native land to bust some gangster heads. In the demo steered by developers from United Front Games, we were introduced to Wei Shen as he met with the jacked up Winston, a club going who had a job for our undercover hero.
That job started with a quick drive through the streets of North Point, True Crime's fictional interpretation of Kowloon. United Front reps pointed out the game's driving model as arcadey, a design choice likely influenced by the ex-Need For Speed developers on staff.
The streets of North Point, painted green and pink from the flood of neon lights, are busy, but not congested, and the drive to the factory where Shen's target resided was short.
At this point, we got a good look at True Crime's hand to hand combat. There were a handful of high flying kicks, but much of the action was standard fisticuffs, not kung fu flick fare. Shen's moveset looked robust, throwing haymaker punches, snapping limbs and performing some brutal environmental finishing moves.
In one finishing move, Shen lifted up a thug over his shoulders, dumping him into the garbage bin behind. In another, Shen shoved some unlucky punk against a refrigerator, crushing his skull with the freezer door.
True Crime's combat also includes the use of weapons, like the meat cleaver that Shen picked up from an enemy and plenty of guns. The combat in True Crime appears to be its strongest mechanic, at least from what we saw at GDC, with a surprising level of depth and variety in the kicking and punching department.
After Shen shot, sliced and pummeled a few dozen bad dudes, he caught up with his prey—who may have gone by the name Dog Eyes—took him hostage and attempted to walk him out of the factory, still blasting away at thug with his handgun. Unfortunately for our undercover hero, old Dog Eyes gave Shen the slip amidst some serious confusion.
The mission then branched off into a driving sequence, with Wei Shen chasing a cop car in a hijacked motorcycle, ultimately carjacking that police cruiser with a bad-ass leap, Pursuit Force-style.
The new True Crime, shown in a pre-alpha state, looked promising, if only for the deeper combat and the use of meat cleavers on lowlife criminals. Much of what we'd seen, we'd seen before in other open-world games, but True Crime's Hong Kong cinema influence is at least interesting and a good base upon which to build an intriguing story.