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Reservoir Dogs
Score: 50%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
Developer: SCi Entertainment Group
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Third Person Shooter/ Action

Graphics & Sound:
Riding on the major success of Tarantino's first indy film, Reservoir Dogs offers players -- wait, the movie came out in '92? What kind of goatee-sporting Spock universe is this? Eidos' Reservoir Dogs, though fourteen years late, offers players a chance to live out their favorite moments from the pop culture smash film. Sadly, they're better off renting the movie.

Fans of the movie will be disappointed to know that the only returning cast member is Michael "I need a lozenge" Madsen as the trigger-happy Mr. Blonde. During parts of the game, you may be forced to find your mute button because the actor playing Mr. Pink (played by the awesome Steve Buscemi in the flick) sounds like Freddy Krueger going to town on a chalkboard. Portraying your other favorite characters are some lacking sound-alikes who should just stick to doing impersonations for their friends at home. None of the other voices come even close. For most players, this will take a lot away from the authenticity of the game.

As far as graphics go, the game looks OK at best, even for the PS2. Character faces - though, for some reason, except for Mr. Blonde -look nothing like the original actors. Obviously, Madsen was the only actor from the film who was licensed for this game. The cut scenes are smooth and vibrant, but gameplay graphics are buggy at times, often offering views to the endless voids behind walls. Each level features a lot of detail, which at some times make up for the texture glitches.

On a positive note, the game sports the original soundtrack from the film, featuring the "Super Sounds of the 70's" (sadly sans Steven Wright). The only problem is the music is only available in the car missions (and occasionally in the level if you happen to be close to a stereo system), and you'll be too preoccupied with staying alive to really enjoy the tunes.

In Reservoir Dogs, every character is playable at some point, you just have no choice over which character you'll play as. Each chapter is broken up into two types of missions. For the first half, you'll have to evade the cops on foot, and for the second half, you'll be placed behind the wheel to, once more, elude the police.

While playing on foot, the game follows basic third-person action protocol: run, shoot, hide, etc. Though, along the way, you have the option of picking up hostages to ebb the flow of bullets in your direction. If you don't subdue civilians, they'll pull the alarms, sending security guards, the boys in blue, and even the elite SWAT team after your jewel-stealing hide. The problem is, as you switch between character's stories, you slowly begin to realize that they're all pretty much the same. At some points, you'll find yourself playing the same levels over and over, only as different characters.

The driving levels are a slight bit more creative, varying from chapter to chapter. In some missions, you'll have to beat a specific time limit, while in others you have to keep a character alive while trying to complete the level. They, too, have a redundancy problem with the layout of the levels. You'll almost immediately notice that you're traveling the same road as last time, except that you're just going the other direction.

As soon as you start your game in Reservoir Dogs, you have two difficulty options: Easy and Normal, both being pretty self-explanatory. Easy is too easy, putting the ETA for the closing credits at about five hours. Normal offers a slightly better challenge, though the game is still pretty simple to beat, with a few exceptions.

The hostages are incredibly weak, and since they're your only shield against the police, you'll find yourself restarting levels constantly all because your captive's health ran out. The cops are few steps short of superheroes at times, some of them taking near-full clips of ammunition before collapsing in a pool of blood. Not only that, taking a hostage doesn't always keep the police at bay. Because your aim focuses on one specific cop when trying to subdue, some of the enemies will end up behind you, riddling you with more bullets than Peter Weller in Robocop. Hostages are no help, either, some of them refusing your commands and running away, leaving you defenseless against an onslaught of police officers.

The driving levels are even tougher, because your car can only withstand a certain minimal amount of damage. This is forever frustrating because the steering is weak, and even if you use the handbrake while making turns, you'll almost always end up in the wall or facing oncoming traffic. The police are relentless while driving, constantly pushing you into roadblocks, trees, and other cars.

Game Mechanics:
Reservoir Dogs features an interesting rating system. You can choose what type of criminal you are throughout the game depending on how you handle certain situations. You can follow Mr. Pink's advice and take the professional way out by killing as few people as possible, or you can be like the psychopath Mr. Blonde and shoot everything that moves. At the end of each level, you're rated based on your performance. Depending on what you're rated when you finish the game, you'll be offered one of three cutscene endings. Also, scattered throughout the game, you'll find blueprints which can unlock concept art, which isn't really worth the trouble of hunting them down.

As your character moves through each level, either on foot or in the car, you'll build up adrenaline as you go through tense situations, either by killing people or standing off against the cops. When your adrenaline level fills up, you'll get a special ability. While on foot with a full meter, your character will be able to go into a "bullet festival," which is similar to bullet time. If you're driving and you fill your meter up, your car will be able to speed boost.

Another interesting mechanic in the game is your ability to "control" people you meet up with. While your gun is trained on a potential victim, he is under your control because he is being intimidated by your weapon. Using your analog stick, you can move him about, either to open a safe or a locked keypad or things of this nature. This was a really cool mechanic, one that I'd love to see utilized in future games. Too bad this game wasn't more fun, overall.

Reservoir Dogs was an outstanding film, a cultural turning point at the beginning of the 90's. The audience was left to their imagination to figure out what happened during the heist. This game answers all the questions that maybe we weren't supposed to have answered. Gamers who haven't seen the movie most likely won't pick this one up, and die-hard fans of the film won't want their memory of the story tainted. A great film, just maybe not the right one to spin a game out of. Live it the way it was meant to be lived, and just go watch the movie.

-Crazy Kangaroo, GameVortex Communications
AKA Josh Meeks

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