True Crime: Hong Kong revives a hit series from earlier in the decade, and so far, it's looking like everything that made the past entries fun romps as the precise reverse of Grand Theft Auto is returning, with lots of new twists on the way. In a darkened room, United Front Games (the ModNation Racers guys) showed True Crime: Hong Kong, including many of the changes that bring it into a new, high-definition world.
Hong Kong is represented with several major districts. North Point explicitly ignores Hong Kong reality to provide a Kowloon-like area to increase variety, Aberdine is a fishing village, and Central is the archetypal commercial districts that most people think of when they think of Hong Kong. The resulting array is critical to keeping the plot fresh, and the on-foot gameplay varies far more than in past entries — though without resorting to the infamous zombies-and-a-dragon level from the first True Crime.
The on-foot dynamics have also gotten a massive upgrade in True Crime: Hong Kong. Hand-to-hand combat is more combo-based, with a wider array of available weapons, and movement is now influenced by Hong Kong action cinema chase sequences, so quite a bit of free running is in play. If a guy decides to run, the chase is going to be hard and probably punctuated by quite a few fights. These fights, also being Hong Kong influenced, include plenty of options for brutality to take them down, such as slamming opponents' heads in refrigerator doors or sticking their faces in spinning turbines. You don't need to be close to the object when you grab the opponent to use it; you can drag him over to it, as long as no one knocks you out of your attempt.
That last sentence might not sound like something any normal cop would do, but the hero, Detective Wei Shen, is not an ordinary cop. In past entries, players played openly on the police side of the law, but Shen is an undercover cop (trained in San Francisco, no less), and most of his tasks will be done on behalf of a Triad organization, the Sun On Yee. Preserving his cover is going to be a massive element of gameplay and story.
Of course, a Grand Theft Auto-inspired game needs cars, and the car mechanics have been done by ex-Need for Speed developers to make the driving and combat more fun. The combat in cars also favors a Hong Kong cinematic tone, allowing you to do things such as the classic lean-out-and-shoot, and the windows are inevitably the first thing to be destroyed once people start shooting at you.
The story elements have also been influenced by the likes of Mass Effect. Pretty much every character in the game can be spoken with, even if he or she only has one line. The chat mechanics don't define people's reactions to the player, though, but the "Face" mechanic changes how they react to you. If you're dressed with the same brands of clothing that the others in the area are wearing, for example, they are likely to react better to you than if you're wearing a hodgepodge of cheap clothes. Your record in past missions also influences this; for example, completing side missions for the Sun On Yee will make them trust you more. The details weren't shown during the demo due to time restrictions, so they opted to show off two missions instead: one featured melee combat and free running, and the other showed off the vehicular combat.
As we watched a fly-through video that shows off much of Hong Kong's area variety, the reps confirmed the fourth-quarter release window for True Crime: Hong Kong. So far, the game is looking to be at least on par with the last two entries, so it'll be a fun romp that will scratch players' itch for more Grand Theft Auto while avoiding being a straight rip-off.
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