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GENRE: Action
March 22, 2005

 Written by Ryan Genno  on August 03, 2005

Review: Where getting shot up has a whole new meaning.

NARC certainly wasn't the biggest hit in the arcades back in the 1980's, but it did get some attention for being one of the few games that had drugs in it. Sure, the original game had a strong use of illegal substances, but it was still your low-life enemies using them and you were the ones blasting them away, so it seemed more like a noble effort. Well, you can throw all that out the window with this 2005 remake because you now have the option to have your so called heroes openly use illegal drugs as power-ups. I wish I was kidding here. Is the new NARC the edgy, Grand Theft Auto killer Midway was hoping for? Or is the cheap price and blatant drug theme being used to mask a crappy game?

In this third-person action game, you play the role of a bunch of cops on a dangerous mission. You need to find the source behind a new wonder drug called Liquid Soul, a narcotic so powerful that druggies can use it to actually revive themselves from death. To make matters worse, some of your fellow cops are taking the drugs they find at crime scenes for themselves so they can sell them on the street. It is up to you to decide whether you will fight for truth and justice, or join your crooked friends in the profitable drug trade.

Although you would think being able to sell drugs in a video game would be bad enough, players can also take these street drugs to enhance some of their abilities. For example: Crack can improve aiming, Speed can make you faster of course, and more. And you thought Grand Theft Auto San Andreas was controversial?! Of course, that game was actually good. Unfortunately, NARC plays so poorly that it's hard to resist these so called power-ups just to liven-up boring mission objectives that range from arresting criminals to listening in on conversations.

One of my biggest problems with NARC is that the controls are awkward and confusing at best. You can move the characters around alright, but switching between all the weapons, drugs and hand-to-hand combat skills is way too cumbersome. Another problem with the game is that it has tons of people roaming the streets and I often found myself hitting the wrong guy in a chase - all because the game has a terrible lock-on system.

The controls are not the only thing half-assed in NARC, take the dismal graphics for example. The dark and gritty urban environments fit this edgy game well, but everything just lacks detail and the animations are choppy for a game in this day and age. The sounds are better than the graphics - mostly because of all the voice acting by stars like Bill Bellamy and Michael Madsen (I never heard of them personally, but I think they are supposed to be famous) and licensed background tracks from guys like Marvin Gaye and Cypress Hill, but it doesn't take long for both the dialogue and music to get repetitive.

Bottom Line
It's a shame that NARC is getting all this big time press simply because you can use drugs in it. That means people may actually want to play this garbage. Don't be fooled by the $19.99 price tag: the game looks ugly, the controls are poorly done, and the storyline gets dull in a hurry. There is some decent action here and there, but quite frankly the game is so bad it smells worse then bad weed.

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