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Platform: Xbox, PS2, GC, PC, GBA
ESRB Rating: T for Teen (Violence)
Players: 1-2


Overview

Back in September of 1975, the Starsky & Hutch TV pilot first aired. The show quickly became a success, and ran for 4 seasons. In recent years, attempts have been made to revive the classic in the form of DVD?s, a movie, and of course, a video game.


Gameplay

The game plays out like a pretty standard mission-based driving game - chase a car and shoot it before the time runs out. Occasionally there will be an escort mission or something else thrown at you to prevent the missions from feeling stale. While driving around, you will come across numerous floating icons, which will, if you drive through or shoot them, serve as power-ups, such as bursts of speed or new weapons. Some of these will also trigger an ?event.? Events can range from explosions, to the arrival of more cars that are out to get you. In any case, these are fun. Who doesn?t love explosions?

But of course these pyrotechnics are not only here to make you happy, but also to make the ?viewers? happy. Instead of having a typical health meter, you have a number at the top of the screen displaying the amount of viewers watching the show. Every time you blow something up, shoot an enemy, powerslide, or basically do anything that?s cool or dangerous, the viewer rating will go up. Doing something bad, like running into civilians, crashing, or shooting police, will cause the viewer rating to go down. If it gets down to zero, it?s game over. The problem I found with this is that it is sometimes hard to determine what you can and cannot run into. For instance, I could knock down a certain pole to increase viewer rating, but then I?d crash into another pole without being able to knock it down, making me lose points. This is irritating sometimes, and I still wish I could crash through more fences, but it doesn?t actually hurt the overall gameplay experience too bad.

Multiplayer mode is a good premise, but I can?t help thinking that there could have been more to it. Two players can play through any of the single-player levels, with one person doing all of the driving as Starsky, while the other does all of the shooting with Hutch. The cool thing about this is that the game supports a steering wheel and light gun to really capture the feeling of it all. Unfortunately, I don?t own either of these peripherals, so I wasn?t able to test this. The idea is great, but if you?re just playing with two controllers, it feels weak. It would have been nice to have some competitive multiplayer modes.

There?s also a lot to unlock in the game. Every mission has a secondary objective, as well as several hidden items scattered throughout the route, which will unlock new content. This content includes new cars, challenge modes, and even interviews with Antonio Fargas, the actor who played Huggy Bear in the TV show. Sadly, the interviews are chopped up, and come to an abrupt ending.


Graphics

Character models look rather blocky and lack detail when seen up close. These, of course, are not the main focus in the game, but it would be nice to see mouths move when they talk. Bay City in its entirety is yours to cruise through, and it?s a nice place, despite the insane crime rates. Flowing traffic and pedestrians fill the city, and the cars are shiny and smooth, showing damage when appropriate. Between levels, we are treated to comic book-like cutscenes, which progress through the story and set the stage for each following mission. I would have rather seen some clips from the TV show, but this works fine too.


Sound

The air is filled with the sounds of sirens, gunfire, and 70?s funk. Voice work is done well, and the character interaction helps to keep things lively. Unsurprisingly, they could have used a few more lines, but the repetition really isn?t too bad. Altogether, the sound does a great job of putting you in the atmosphere of the game. Plus, Huggy Bear does the narration for each episode.


Stability

I?ve only come across one glitch, which happened twice when I was closely following a bus. I would be ramming it, and then suddenly the bus would turn transparent and let my car pass through it like a ghost. This only happened on occasion, and it didn?t ruin the game or anything. Still, it shouldn?t happen.


Controls/Interface

The controls on a standard controller are simple and responsive. The game does support a steering wheel and light gun to further put you into the experience, which again, I was not able to try for myself. The menu interfaces are easy to navigate through, and they look clean and colorful. However, I found myself looking in the instruction booklet to find out what some of the icons guarding the unlockable content meant.


Appropriateness

In this game, you will be forced to shoot and/or run over people. However, most of the time, you will only be shooting at enemies? cars so you can arrest the people inside them. You are playing the role of two cops who will only be taking down bad guys. Hitting innocent people is punished, and the whole thing is basically just acting out a TV show, so I guess your characters are just actors pretending to shoot people. Starsky uses the ?D? word once in a while, and in one episode, Hutch?s girlfriend gets turned into meat if you fail. (This is never actually shown, mind you.)


Overall

If you?re a big Starsky & Hutch fan, you probably already have this game. If not, you shouldn?t immediately be scared away by the license. Once I gave the game a chance, I found it to be a lot of fun. And since it can be found for under $10, it shouldn?t hurt your budget too bad.


Game Play ? 15/20
Graphics ? 7/10
Sound ? 7/10
Stability ? 4/5
Controls/Interface ? 4/5
Appropriateness - 43/50

Total ? 80%
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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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