reviewed on PC
"We didn't copy the story, we swear"
I heard 25 to Life had things in common with Grand Theft Auto, so I figured I might give it a try, after all, how bad could it be?
Creative writers in Eidos spent months thinking this game's magnificent storyline which, of course, isn't stolen from GTA. 25 to Life begins with a gangster named Freeze who is told by his girlfriend to quit 'the game'. Freeze tries to talk her out of it but after a twelve second argument Freeze decides to quit his life for the woman he loves and goes in search of a friend who will let him out after completing 'one last mission' (very creative). Your last mission consists of getting some drug money from some Cubans (unlike GTA where you have to get some drug money from some Cubans) but when you get there they are already dead (unlike GTA where when you get there they are already dead) and everything goes terribly wrong from there.
Storytelling is horrible and unimaginative. The story is told through two kinds of videos: after you finish a level you will see a brief motion video of your character running and after finishing the chapter you will see an atrocious FMV which might have been animated by a twelve year old using a 486 in his mother's basement.
The first thing you notice after turning the game on (apart from the awful loading screens) is that the interface sucks. The mouse pointer turns into a poorly drawn gun which moves in the general direction of the mouse. As if the cursor's movement wasn't bad enough, Eidos went the extra mile and changed the clicking region of the options so that no matter where you click, you won't select what you wanted. Eventually you realize you can also use the keyboard and manage to begin the game.
To help you aim you have a crosshair which points in the general direction your bullets will fire. The game forces you to crouch and zoom in your view at every single corner since shooting while walking is impossible and even breathing can make your bullets go astray. For example, after starting some level I shot four bullets to a bad guy standing three feet away from me, of the four bullets, only one hit its target (the game tracks your accuracy). While it isn't much of a problem with submachine guns, trying to go through a level with only a shotgun is a daunting task. You will miss three out of every four shots and you have to take a good half minute every two shots to reload.
Generic Title #1
Now lets talk a bit about gameplay, you have three weapon slots which can be filled with one of over 40 weapons (or so says the box). The first one can be filled with a small firearm such as generic gun #1 or generic gun #2 while the second one can be filled with a big gun like generic submachine gun #1 or generic shotgun #1. Sometimes you can even wield two generic guns (woohoo!), though gameplay-wise the only thing that will change is how much ammo you carry, but that is a big plus since reloading can take forever. The third slot carries a melee weapon, but if you are unlucky enough to run out of ammo you might as well restart from the last checkpoint since collision detection is terribly poor for melee weapons. At least melee weapons are terribly overpowered, a thug hit me with a baseball bat once and damaged about half my energy while it would have taken about a thousand bullets to do that much damage with firearms.
Enemies in the game vary from generic cop #1 to generic thug #3, but to make things a bit more interesting Eidos copied Metal Gear Solid 3's ability to grab a hostage and use him as a human shield. Unfortunately, after grabbing generic civilian #1 you are forced to use your pistol and if you run out of bullets you will have to let the hostage run, reload and then grab him again. Even worse, while holding a hostage you won't be able to walk through most of the doors so you will have to let him go, but don't worry since police shoots hostages without the least concern and you don't get much protection from them anyway.
Gangsta' Rhymes & Gangsta' Talk
I would consider myself a nerd, the furthest you can be from being a gangster and still I find the dialogue of the game to be ridiculous. The worst part can be found in a few missions you make in Mexico. One gang member will shout "Ya no est's en Estados Unidos" (translated: "You are not in the United States anymore"). Well, thank you very much, I had already noticed; then you hear "Estoy listo a morir" (translated "I am ready to death") or what about "Se te lleg' la hora" (translated: well... I'm not sure how that translates since it can hardly be called Spanish). Some other cops will threaten you with phrases like: "Learn to shoot" while you are hiding behind a box without shooting. While dialogues are absurd and grammatically incorrect, the dreadful voice acting doesn't help the game's cause in the least.
In game music is delivered by a few radios scattered throughout the level, the closer you get the louder you hear the music. The only creative idea in the whole game fails miserably because there aren't enough radios to hear the music and finding a radio in the middle of a bank's vault is downright silly. On an aside, I'm not sure if it has something to do with my computer but music was turned off by default. I wonder what's the point of licensing that much music and then create a system so that nobody can hear it.
25 to Life is an uninspired shooter which rips many concepts from great games like Grand Theft Auto or Metal Gear Solid 3 but fails miserably at putting them all together. The story feels washed out, characters are completely uninteresting, the sound system is so bad that you don't even get to hear the music and aiming controls can make a grown man cry. Almost a year before its release Senator Charles Schumer of New York tried to ban this game, I'm really sorry he didn't because I totally agree with him when he said it "lowers common decency".
No Pros and Cons at this time