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Minority Report
Score: 45%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Treyarch
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action

Graphics & Sound:
Let's be honest. Did anyone really want a Minority Report game, and if so, why? Isn't it common knowledge that nearly every movie-based game has sucked since E.T. on Atari 2600? At least with a competent development team like Treyarch (known for the all-but-perfect Tony Hawk series) at the helm, one would think Minority Report could turn out okay. Right?

Nah. They somehow managed to screw this game up completely, starting with the graphics and working their way down. Minority Report seriously looks just like a shoddy PSX game in many places; in others, it's simply the ugliest 'new' game to hit the big three consoles in some time. There's nothing special about the level backgrounds or character designs, except for the absurd 'rag doll' physics system that each entity exhibits. When a thug gets thrown into a solid wall, his limbs flail wildly as if he'd become a limp puppet for a few seconds. While this is hilarious to no end (see mention of the Jetpack Training mode in the next section), the system truly backfires and comes off far sillier than the developers could've ever intended.

As for music, other than the tune 'Apossibly' contributed by The Apex Theory, it's tough to notice any soundtrack at all. Barely-there techno drones on for a bit at the start of each level, but soon cuts out to leave players only with the grunts of their opponents. Fortunately, your enemies' screams are the best part of playing Minority Report. The sound crew must've been cracking up for weeks after recording the ridiculous wails for each punk tossed out of a window or kicked off a ledge, and it shows. I haven't laughed this much at a video game in years, I think!

Tom Cruise wouldn't sell his likeness, so players take the role of an older, light-haired John Anderton with no resemblance to the film's protagonist of the same name. Since neither the manual nor the game's intro provide any real plot information, Treyarch relies on gamers to have seen the movie first -- but if you haven't, don't sweat it. You'll merely be busting heads over and over, with a few jump puzzles thrown in for good measure. No story required.

Really, all you do is beat people up in this game. The majority of your time will be spent pulling off jerky combos on indistinguishable aggressors, with an awkward jetpack mission popping up every now and then. This isn't the constantly fun, Final-Fight sort of beat 'em up game, either; even though it's worth a giggle to chuck a few cops through a glass wall, the action gets stale quickly. In fact, the Jetpack Training mode proves far more entertaining than most of the actual game! See, after practicing movement with the jetpack and shooting up a few dummy cops, four Precrime officers are placed on huge columns of differing heights in a large arena. The room's sole purpose: deliberately flying straight into the men only to hear their side-splitting screams on the long trip down. I honestly spent at least two hours thinking up creative ways of flinging these guys off their perches, delighted by their cries of 'Oh nooooooo, I'm fallllllling!' over and over. Whew, I'm tearing up just thinking about it!

But yes, the fun actually does end there. It shouldn't take more than an hour or two of playing the main game before anyone gets bored and returns to the pure comedy gold that is Jetpack Training. Take it from me: don't even bother with the meat of this game. John's available arsenal of weapons is limited, and although new martial arts combos can be purchased through the Black Market (which is somehow always available to John, even in the heat of combat) with money icons found scattered about, the fighting system leaves quite a bit to be desired.

Truly fun brawlers come equipped with lots of challenge, and Minority Report sorely lacks it in any form. Players can choose from three difficulty settings, but it doesn't make much of a difference either way. Pitifully, it only takes a single leg sweep to drop almost any opponent to the ground, whereupon John may kick, stomp, punch or toss his foes into oblivion without them being able to lift a finger. Yawn!

Game Mechanics:
Apart from sluggish combat mechanics and horribly unnatural character model movement, the camera controls are nearly unusable in high-stress conditions. If you find yourself surrounded by attackers and need a better perspective of the action, chances are it'll take more than one flick of the right thumbstick to nail that perfect angle. On the plus side, the game's engine allows players to destroy nearly anything in sight by simply throwing a few punches -- but the silliness factor goes up another notch when household furniture seems to explode with a bang when kicked.

If anything, the otherwise-brilliant folks at Treyarch have honored the tradition of keeping licensed games forever stuck in Crap Mode, and that's got to count for something. I'm almost ashamed to say it, but Minority Report is worth the rent only for screwing around in the training modes for a few hours. So, if you aren't looking for a good laugh in your next rental, avoid this one entirely. Actually enjoying this game should be a crime, and it doesn't take some pre-cog freak to tell that much.

-Ben Monkey, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ben Lewis

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