PS2 Review: 24 - The Game

24: The Game has everything. Generally, that's a compliment, at least outside the realm of video games. Inside, it usually means that with production spread thin, it fails to do any segment of the game properly, and that's exactly what happened here. There's a strong story core here, and that's the only aspect that's worth playing this one for.

The majority of 24 is made up of 3rd person shooter segments. Various characters are controlled, firing away at a variety of terrorists and dismantling their latest scheme. These suffer from rough controls, far too loose no matter how low you set the analog sensitivity. The camera is an issue, and the fan service picture-in-picture pop-up windows may offer a secondary view of the situation, but they also cripple the player's sight.

Switching weapons is a simple task, as is searching bodies for extra ammo (which is a requirement). Suspects can also be apprehended by shouting repetitive statements with the R2 button. Why repeating "CTU!" 15 times is enough to halt a terrorist holding an automatic weapon is never actually explained.

Between missions are the wonderfully done cinematics. They capture the feel of the show perfectly, from the camera movement to the pacing. These are all rendered via the in-game engine, though they run in heavily compressed video. All voice work comes from the show's stars, and with a story this intense, it's great to know that it won't be ruined by anyone else.

Each level represents an hour of time, like the show. The time is not accurate (obviously) for gameplay reasons. If it was, the player would stuck inside some absurd alternate play styles, including one of the worst driving engines you'll ever come across.

It's bad enough when you're stuck in a high speed chase and you feel like you're going 30 at top speed, but then the difficulty is all over the place too. While previous driving sections may have been adequate as a brief excursion from the shooting, they'll eventually become a burden. A police chase around the halfway mark is an inexcusable exercise in fighting with pathetic controls, slow movement, rough graphics, and a timer.

Mini-games fill the game elsewhere, like hacking into a door with a system so simple, four-year olds could figure out. If this is the system Counter Terrorism Units use in real life, be afraid. Interrogations use a meter based system that's slightly confusing, and heavily repetitive. Sniping is mildly fun, though brief enough that you'll forget you even did it by games end.

What 24 is searching for is focus. It lacks any, and as such, is a convoluted mess of average at best engines that fall apart long before they become fun. Fans of the series will definitely get more out of this than a non-fan (significantly more so given that the story falls between seasons two and three), but even those who continue to watch will find themselves aggravated at the lack of effort in every gameplay engine. It's a shame that most people won't see the whole story.

(** out of *****)

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