Ever since the introduction of Grand Theft Auto the gaming world has changed. It is now considered “cool” to play videogames, in fact we even have two awards shows now that simply degrade our entire hobby. While this certainly has its advantages such as more exposure and money for developers to make great games, we also have the horrible downside of seeing games that try to simply cash in on the popularity of others. This is where 25 To Life excels in almost every category, it has been a long time since I have played a game this bad, and the sad part is it will sell millions simply based on its similarities to another cultural phenomenon. What strikes me as odd though is that this game has very little in common with the aforementioned title, in fact outside of firing a gun the games are polar opposites. While I am sure there are plenty of people claiming to love this game, read on and find out why this is one title you will want to steer clear of.
25 To Life is a third-person action game that follows the path of three main characters, Shaun Calderon, Detective Lester Williams, and Andre Freeze Francis. You will start the game off following Freeze who simply wants to put the thug life in his past, unfortunately for him his family is kidnapped by the people who he used to call friends and he is forced to fight to try and escape the life of a gangster. Apparently this involves shooting tons of police officers, police officers that in fact have the intelligence level of a four year old. The first level in the game is basically the “training” portion and consists of running from point A to point B mowing down officers that do little more than duck and fire. While this may not sound so bad to make matters worse the aiming system is broken, the controls are unmanageable, and the graphics make Bad Boys: Miami Takedown look like Splinter Cell.
You will be enthralled into the world with lush visuals…
The first thing you will notice while playing this game though is that nothing feels special, nothing in the game differentiates itself from all other third-person action titles that have come before it. In fact if anything 25 To Life takes several steps back in the genre by giving you limited combat and a very small amount of maneuvers to perform. All of these factors lead to some pretty boring combat overall and really make the game feel more like a chore than anything else. There are a bevy of weapons in the game such as pistols, SMGs, and of course the standard Molotov Cocktail, but just like everything else in this game it has all been done before and in most cases much, much better.
As I mentioned earlier the game seriously suffers from control issues starting with the most important aspect of any shooting game, aiming. The on-screen reticule seems to have a mind of it’s own at times, you will find yourself frustrated over and over as you try to get your sights set on the enemy, all the while he is laying into you without missing a beat. Of course aiming may be the AI’s only strength as you will often see them running into walls and even directly into your line of fire, which is about the only time you can hit them on the first shot. Later in the game you will also fight alongside other characters which possess the same magnificent intelligence, never adhering to where you are they will still squeeze off rounds even if your head is the one dead-center in their crosshairs.
If that isn’t enough to dissuade you from buying this pile of garbage lets now talk about the visuals. As many of you know the next generation of gaming is just around the corner, but did you also know that the last generation of gaming was still here? That’s right ladies and gents, 25 To Life looks great-.for a PSOne title that is. The character models look like they were ripped from one of those commercials you see on TV for game design and the environments look like abstract paintings that were sketched by a retarded monkey. Sure the PS2 and Xbox are 4-5 years old, but releasing something this bad on either console is simply an insult to game design. I would expect this from a budget title, but not from a game that charges full price and is banking off of the popularity of “thug” gaming already. Simply put the graphics in this game are some of the worst that you will find, especially on the Xbox console.
While I may not be the biggest fan of rap music the soundtrack is one of the few things that this game does right. I suppose if you enjoy paying 40 bucks for a CD of your favorite songs then 25 To Life might actually be worth it. That is where the praise ends however as the rest of the sound package matches up well with the rest of the game. Awful voice-overs top off the package with more forced uses of the F-bomb than any other game and even enemies and bystanders that continue to talk long after they have had a .45 caliber round in their cranium. The sound effects remind me of those budget CDs you find in the computer store chock full of standard effects that have been used repeatedly over the years.
…And deep, involving objectives.
There is also an online portion of the game which is where you will want to spend most of your time if you were unfortunate enough to purchase it. You can customize your character with an impressive array of options and head online with up to 16 players. While the inclusion of online was certainly appreciated the game still falls short because of the questionable aiming and lack of cover maneuverability. There are 16 stages to choose from and the Robbery and Raid modes can provide a small amount of enjoyment the online mode still basically consists of the “spray and pray” philosophy of gaming. You will basically wail on the buttons and move around without worrying too much about strategy which creates a dull experience, and quick.
I simply cannot recommend this game to anyone, the controls are busted, the AI is pathetic, and even with online play you will grow tired of it within an hour of game time. Unfortunately the gangster aesthetic will help sell this game. Hopefully next time they will actually attach a good game to the theme or they will end up with the same reputation as the Resident Evil clones, which is to say not very good. Avoid this game at all costs if you value the life of your gaming console, there are far too many games worth your forty bucks besides this one.