24 - The Game (PS2)
Legend has it that a survey taken showed that, in the event of a terrorist attack, a high percentage of US citizens believed that Jack Bauer would save them. They should have re-worded it, replacing "US citizens" with "stupid people". Let's face it, you could conduct similar surveys in any country in the Western world and, if you asked the "right" demographic, would get a similar response. But it's a measure of the success of the TV show 24, that his would be the first name to spring to mind. A game based on the show was, therefore, inevitable.
Man, I hate getting up this early.
Oddly enough, considering I lived in the US between 2000 and 2005, barring trailers I've never seen a single minute of 24. It was massively hyped over there, and incredibly popular. And I'm led to believe it's a fine television show. But I missed the first one when it was broadcast, and then the second one had been on before I'd had a chance to see the first one, and so on, and so on. And so it seemed pointless watching any after that. And when the second season came on, it seemed pointless watching it having not seen the first. So there you go. I know what it's about, I know who's in it... but I've never seen it.
Someone had to pay... you'll do.
I don't know if that was a help or a hindrance when playing the game. I mean, this is mostly fan service, I would guess. If you're a fan of the show, it's probably awesome to play at being in Jack Bauer's shoes. It'll be great to be interacting with all your favourite (or least favourite) characters. I went into it totally fresh, though... maybe that was for the best. Too often games are crushed by the weight of expectation.
As far as game versions of an established entertainment medium go, 24: The Game actually seems really good. It's fast-paced, although whether that's in keeping with a TV show that needs to build suspense, I'm not sure. The graphics, for a PS2, are really quite good. There are good likenesses of the main characters (Kiefer Sutherland was instantly recognisable, if a little Kevin Bacon-ish at times, and I checked out a few of the others), and the voice acting is as good as you'd expect.
Well, there goes my no-claims bonus.
For all it succeeds with its presentation though, the gameplay itself doesn't match that. Luckily, it isn't awful. Well, sometimes it gets close, but generally it plays pretty well. The opening level, which also serves as a tutorial, see you as Jack Bauer storming a cargo ship that has been hijacked by terrorists to ship a ricin bomb. Although it's not terribly difficult, it's presented in such a way that it really ramps up the tension and you feel as though you have to get a move on at all times or disaster will ensue.
Do you know who blew up my car? Talk, and you'll live.
It's not all quite like that, though. There are some strange mini-games... the bomb defusal game you get on completion of the first level is a bit rubbish, for instance. And later on, there are some rubbish driving bits that the game could really have done without. I suppose they needed filler content though... it's difficult to maintain a story like this over the full length of a game.
This is actually a really interesting and effective way of moving the story.
Still, the story is interesting enough to mean I can overlook those things. And I appreciated that the game doesn't focus entirely on Jack Bauer... occasional levels see you playing as other characters, which fleshes things out considerably for the non-afficionado such as myself. I'd really like to see a 24 game on the current systems, but I suppose that ship sailed a good while ago. But for now, I'm gripped enough by this one to want to see it through to the end.