Developer: Point of View
Release Date: November 30, 2004
Console Gamer 101: “budget games” are rarely, if ever, very good. If a given title costs twenty dollars or less on the day it comes out, that price is an attempt to justify a title with certain glaring and unmistakable flaws. The archetypical budget title from days past is something like the rash of generic games -- Boxing, Chess, Snowboarding, Billiards -- that A1 Games inflicted on the PSOne; they’re cheap because a bunch of first-year compsci students slapped them together over the course of a long weekend.
Crave has been attempting to challenge that lately, with titles like Future Tactics, Strike Force Bowling… or Trigger Man, the latest and arguably the best of the lot.
As the eponymous main character, you’re a freelance hitman who’s currently employed by the don of the Coldangelo crime family. Through your actions, you’ll first start a gang war and then proceed to win it more or less singlehandedly, through a series of missions that are about 90% gunplay to 10% stealth.
The first impressions you’ll get of Trigger Man when you sit down to play it are that it’s dark and that it’s difficult. The graphics are frequently very muddy and indistinct, especially when you’re looking at opponents from a distance, and you are apparently fighting the cyborg soldiers of Don Mechano’s army of Mafia robots.
Maybe I’ve just been spoiled by too many shooters with a mildly realistic take on gunfire, but Trigger Man's crew of hardcore gangsters are all insane. You need to shoot them in the head to kill them; otherwise, they’ll absorb half a clip of 9mm bullets to the chest before grudgingly admitting that yeah, that probably did kill them, and pitching over.
In a lot of games, that’d be the status quo, but the Trigger Man doesn’t have the bottomless ammo pockets of other shooters. He can carry quite a few guns, but is limited to packing only two spare clips for each one, and ammo pickups are few and far between. Instead of stealing bullets from dead goons, you’ll usually be resupplying at conveniently located ammo crates that’re strewn throughout each level.
Instead, you have to use automatic weapons and that 10% stealth to seize upon any advantage you can get. When it’s down to just your pistol, you get to steal through the hallways of Shooter Plaza – abandoned office building, trainyard, factory, mansion, sewer system, etc. – and try your damnedest to drop somebody before he knows you’re there. The further you get in the game, the better your weapons get, and the easier a time you’ll have; I’m particularly fond of Trigger Man’s throwing knives, which spin end over end in Shiv Cam™ before fatally burying themselves in a target.
If you can pass that first level, Trigger Man's sheer challenge makes it an interesting buy. It’s not the best-looking game out there, certain levels are almost ridiculously difficult (there’s a boss at the end of the fifth stage who I do not believe can be killed with conventional weaponry), and the Trigger Man himself could use some kind of quick dodge move, but Trigger Man is strangely addictive just the same.