The question of price vs quality of product has always been an issue with games, and everyone knows sometimes you get what you pay for and sometimes you get a bargain. But with Rockstar's latest release on the PS1, this question is harder than ever for a reviewer to answer. With limited releases on this platform, we definitely want to give every title full scrutiny, especially from those badboys who brought us GTA III. In the end, I was forced to throw up my hands and give this game three stars, put in my recommendation that PS1 owners pick it up at its ten dollar price tag, but throw in more caveats than the disclaimers/fine print on a credit card application.
Probably the best element of this game is the plot. American gamers may miss much of the fond reminiscence that Brits have of the 1969 cult UK hit of the same name, but part of the humor is still maintained for those outside of the loop. The basic premise is that Charlie Croker, newly released from the clink, is attempting to steal $4,000,000 in gold while avoiding both the police and the mafia. You're going to be making your way through London, Turin, and the Alps during the mission modes as you gather together your gang of lovable misfits to pull off the biggest bank job of your career. I would sum this game up as the sixties "light" equivalent of the films Snatch and Gone in Sixty Seconds combined. This is no GTA we have here-but then, it isn't really trying to be.
There are four other modes besides the story mode as well as a "free ride" option that just lets you toodle around the city and get acquainted. This is always a nice function in larger environments when you are presented with missions on a timer, but since this game comes equipped with a handy-dandy arrow (ugghhh), you really don't need to do this other than for sightseeing purposes. And the graphics really aren't interesting enough to make that worthwhile (more on that later). The other modes include a "party play" mode, in which you and seven friends take turns running car trials, "challenge mode," in which you (and the aforementioned chums) can challenge each other's times on tracks you've opened up in the main story mode, "checkpoint mode," which is the same as the previous game except there are timed checkpoints, and finally, the "destruction mode," where you must chase down road cones before time runs out. Because there isn't really any head-to-head action in these modes, I really didn't find too much excitement from this game as a "play-with-friends" kind of title. And destroying cones isn't really my idea of destruction anymore. For a younger, less hardened audience, perhaps...
The gameplay from a plot perspective is entertaining, and the soundtrack and effects are solid. The voice acting is way over the top, and, in my opinion, hilarious. There are other elements of the game, however, which are not so...shall we say, impressive. First, the controls are annoyingly over-responsive. The lack of a real feeling of physics and weight from the vehicles is a problem throughout, regardless of what you're driving (limo, Italian racer, or bus, it doesn't matter). Secondly, although this is one of the less expensive titles and the environments are large, I was still hoping for better things graphically (in essence, the graphics really blow). I know this is a PS1 title, but I have seen beautiful things for this system, and I would at least expect less pixilation (not to mention framerate issues etc. etc.). And finally, this game is, well... short. It won't take you all that long to walk through. In fact, most of the time will be taken up in figuring out how to steer with savvy and then you'll be sailing along.
I guess since the game is brief and not so flashy about things, I'll follow in suit. This game is not GTA. If you want mayhem, violence, and gore, go elsewhere. You can run into people, but you're not getting any blood or carnage. Your vehicles will take damage and there will be explosions, but there just isn't the level of destruction here. You're also dealing with theft and organized crime, but you won't be finding any bodies in the trunk; you can't pick up any prostitutes, and the idea is failure rather than brutal and heinous death. It was, after all, the sixties. In relation to that, it also really isn't so much a game that you pick up solely for its capabilities as a racer. In fact, if you do that, you'll be sorely disappointed. The vehicles don't control that well and the game doesn't have the two-player capabilities you would want for racing either.
This game stays remarkably tight with the movie, so really, what we're dealing with here is gaming homage. If you are looking for an amusing storyline that is definitely in the style of late sixties Brit, then you've come to the right game. If you keep in mind you only spent ten bucks, give yourself time to get used to the controls, and then sit back and enjoy the ride, you won't really be disappointed. But if you get this game expecting the next GTA or something with stunning achievement in graphics, then you are bound to be disappointed.