Developer: Minds Eye Prod.
Publisher: Gotham Games
Release Date: September 11, 2003
Welcome back to the ‘70s! It’s time to put on your bellbottoms, grow out your hair, and start using words like “groovy,” “disco” and “peace.” Starsky & Hutch, a classic television series from 1975, featured two unorthodoxed, streetwise cops and a souped-up hot rod Ford Torino, all of which went on to become American icons. They’ve been dormant for long enough so not only are they coming to the silver screen, but they’re also coming directly to your homes via console gaming so you can replay your favorite S&H scenes.
This game has one of the most interesting two-player features available: one player plays as Starsky, and the other plays as Hutch. The game isn’t an RPG, where you try and solve mysteries. Instead, the game revolves all around Starsky’s driving skills and Hutch’s shooting so you could consider this a driving game with a twist.
The controls in the game are really easy to pick up. At any given time, you will only need to hit three buttons, and it is even easier when you have the steering wheel and gun con 2. Even though it has two-player capability, you can still play the game in single-player mode. You play as both the shooter and the driver, but rather than having to aim at the targets yourself, the computer automatically aims at the targets. There is a downside to this, since the computer’s auto-aim never hits the desired target unless you somehow force your car to focus on it.
Unlike other games which revolve around some sort of time limit, this game depends on viewer ratings, and the show will be canned if the ratings aren’t high enough. In that sense, it’s more of a TV show than a game. There are several different approaches in order to achieve good ratings: show off some of Starsky’s mad driving skills, finish the objectives as quickly as possible, or have Hutch show off his elite shooting skills by hitting as many targets as possible. The targets that Hutch should hit are the viewer rating bonus, speed up, siren, hi-grip double VR, double damage, gun jam, take two, special event, and police bonus. The more viewer rating bonus targets you hit, the higher the chances you have of completing the mission. At times, Hutch may even be able to drive right through these targets.
There are a total of three available modes of play. The first mode – and the main focus of the game – is the story mode, where you will play through seasons 1-3 of Starsky and Hutch. The two other modes are available purely for your enjoyment. If you are a true S&H fan, you will enjoy “free roam” mode, where you can explore the entire city and remember the events that happened at those memorable locations. The last mode, TV specials mode, is probably one of my favorite additions. There are a total of three sub-modes within this last mode: racing special, where you race against other cars in a checkpoint race through Bay City, shooting special, which is a checkpoint drive through the city that rewards you for shooting as many targets as possible, and lastly, stunt special, where you can run through the best stunts from story mode.
In order to continue your mission, you must keep a high enough viewer rating, but that is only a secondary objective. The main objective within story mode is to chase down and destroy the enemy car. The approach in stopping the car is completely unbelievable because who in their right mind would shoot a car several times just to stop it? In Starsky & Hutch’s world, it seems justified. I believe we hit the enemy car about 100 times before the car stopped, and if you think it will get better with the other missions, dream on. Every single mission has the same objective: just trying to disable the enemy car. There might be a small variation in the mission, where you would have to protect a vehicle instead of destroying it, but generally, the game is just a constant repetitive exercise.
The sound in the game has the ‘70s disco feel. Even though the music fits the game really well, it is at a slightly lower volume than the other sounds in the game. The sound priority is clearly more focused on the gun shots, the revving of the engine, and, of course, Starsky & Hutch yelling at each other. Since the game revolves around these two characters, it is very fitting and you couldn’t expect much more from it.
The graphics quality in the game is pretty nice. There is a good amount of detail for the city as well as the cars. It certainly isn’t the next coming of Soul Calibur II or VF4: Evo, but it’s what you would expect from a driving game. The detail can be considered on par with “The Getaway,” except for the fact that this game uses two-dimensional graphics for its cut scenes, which I considered to be stills with voice actors informing you of the story. Each cut scenes links up to the next episode, but what I fail to understand is why the load time is so unbelievably long for this game. These graphics aren’t so impressive that this type of load time is merited.
The game is definitely geared to the fans of Starsky & Hutch, and fans of the classic television series will be pleased. It implements a really cool concept, allowing the use of both a steering wheel and gun. Even with this new concept, however, the game does not live up to its hype, as the missions are so repetitive that they get quite boring after a few tries. With its extremely long load time, I would definitely suggest trying before you buy.
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