Genre: Third-person Shooter
Publisher: O3 Entertainment
Release Date: Q3 2004
Game previews are tricky business when it comes to how deep you want to dig, how harsh you need to be, and how much you have to look past in order to see a glimmer of a good game coming down the pipe. By and large previews are fairly representative of the final product and though the game can change between the two, often the final copy is a more polished and presentable version of the game. Torrente is only in a preview state, but if this preview build is anything at all like the final product then most gamers are going to find Torrente a game lacking in most respects.
In the game you play as José Luis Torrente, a fat, balding, and bumbling detective who is on the Madrid police force. The game is based upon the Spanish film Torrente, the Stupid Arm of the Law, and the likeness of the actor in the film is accurately recreated as the main character in the game. Torrente is now apparently living a life of luxury, surrounded by babes in a jacuzzi but as Torrente says “Things were not always this way”. Throughout the game the plot revolves around Torrente’s days as a detective, shooting criminals, disarming bombs, and walking around the streets of Madrid, which are apparently the most dangerous places on the planet.
You see in Torrente it seems as if the ratio of those who are armed and out for your blood to normal civilians in the city to is about 20 to 1. No reason is given for as to why these droves of gang members want to shoot you on sight, presumably one must be first familiar with the movie to understand the game. Even still these flocks of armed enemies are hardly a threat, as they die from one hit with any weapon, have great difficulty shooting anything in motion at more than 3 feet away, can be easily outrun, and have AI limited to either standing in one place or rushing straight at you. Being as your missions tend to almost always be to simply get from point A to point B to complete objective C, much of the gameplay is limited to simply walking towards your objective, the shooting of gang members being an optional step. Should you be required to actually shoot an enemy in your path you can choose between a few weapons, such as hand to hand, knives, baseball bats, pistols, uzis, shotguns, sniper rifles, and grenade launchers. Melee combat is utterly useless, as since enemies die with one pistol shot you will be hard pressed to run out of it. Using anything more powerful than the pistol is overkill for the same reason, why use a shotgun blast at point blank range when one pistol shot will drop your foe? The sniper rifle is good for picking off enemy snipers on balconies and rooftops, probably the only enemies who can even successfully hit a target. The grenade launcher rounds pack very little punch and a woefully tiny area of effect, putting to rest any natural thoughts of using them to clear out close groups of enemies.
Torrente himself is supposed to be a foul-mouthed, sexist cop with his one-liners and actions, but in reality the effect is bland at best. Foul words and the equivalent of fart jokes just for the sake of foul words and fart jokes barely added to the quality level of games a decade ago when the target audience were pre-teens, let alone nowadays. Torrente’s one-liners are bearable at first, and occasionally cause a short chuckle, but after hearing them spouted off so many times, often for no reason as you are walking down the street, and they lose their luster. Duke Nukem had some one-liners too, but the reason they didn’t ever become unwelcome was that they weren’t spouted every 20 seconds.
Graphically there’s not much to like in Torrente, as much of the game is limited by repetitive enemy styles and low quality textures. The character models and animations are pretty good, but there aren’t nearly enough of them to bring any sort of variety to the graphics. The likeness of the Torrente movie’s actor has been reproduced to a fairly stunning degree, which will likely please fans of the movie who will find the very same Torrente in the game as can be seen in the movie. The city itself is fairly intricate, as you’ll find various alleyways, turnabouts, cars driving around, and winding streets that change in elevation, but there is never any reason to explore it. Weapon effects are done fairly well, such as tracers and sparks from ricochets, but the blood effect looks a bit canned. The menu systems feature hand-drawn backgrounds that look very nice, but are paired with an interface that looks to be simply Photoshopped text effects.
The menu system’s sounds and music, and largely the rest of the sounds and music in the game, are sub-par. The theme (as in one theme) that plays during gameplay becomes repetitive after about thirty seconds of play, and the menu theme is reminiscent of that heard in the shareware games of yore. Weapon sound effects range from decent to sounding like canned sound effects packs, though the voice acting across the board seems to be of the “lowest bidder” classification. The absolute worst part of the entire sound ensemble has to be the sound effect played during the menu screen. You see, in the menu your cursor is a fly, which makes a continual, hideously annoying buzzing sound that is louder than the background music. In all seriousness, I never pass a menu screen without looking out my window, wishing upon a star, and praying that some day I get to choke the hell out of the individual that green-lighted this idea.
All in all, Torrente seems to be the definition of the movie based game, i.e. it is completely geared towards fans of the movie while leaving anyone else totally unamused, only this time the movie is a foreign film that most people have never heard of, let alone seen. Normally games of this caliber would get a “lets hope this game turns out ok” sentence, but in all honesty there is very little that could save Torrente short of scrapping it entirely and redoing it from the ground up. Torrente may very well appeal to fans of the film, whoever they are, but will undoubtedly leave the rest of the populace wondering if the point of it all was to entertain or to milk an obscure foreign movie license.