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Which Console Did You Buy/Receive Over The Holidays?

Xbox One X
Nintendo Switch
PlayStation 4

Game Profile
PlayStation 2
2K Games
Cambridge Studios
GENRE: Action
February 28, 2006

 Written by Matt Swider  on March 28, 2006

Review: "Who are you working for!?" "Um, Gaming Target. Please don't kill me!"

Jack Bauer. Girls want him and guys want to be him. The latter is possible in 24: The Game in which players can take control of Jack and fellow CTU agents in the new PS2 title from 2K Games. It provides an authentic 24 experience just like the TV show and sheds light on the gaps between seasons 2 and 3. While the gameplay isn't exactly groundbreaking compared to other action games, the storyline provides a compelling reason to see it through to its conclusion. The cut scenes alone make it a can't-miss title for diehard 24 fans.

24: The Game begins at 6 a.m. with Jack leading a team of Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU) agents onto a boat suspected of carrying the chemical weapon ricin. However, the story only escalates as terrorists execute attacks, make assassination attempts, take hostages and kidnap both political figures and personal family members of Jack Bauer. It replicates the style of the television program to a T with familiar characters, suspenseful cliffhangers, multi-panel story windows and those patented beeps. The split-screen windows are necessary in order to link interweaving plotlines, but can be distracting during gameplay sequences. For example, it's difficult to maintain control of a car during driving levels when the screen begins to shift to make room for another story panel. As aggravating as this can be when it conflicts with the ongoing gameplay, the split screen helps keep 24's signature style intact.

In addition to playing as Kiefer Sutherland's character, players have the chance to control Chase Edmunds, Tony Almeida, Michelle Dessler and Kim Bauer. Other key figures show up in the story as non-playable characters. President Palmer is recuperating following the attempt on his life at the end of season 2 and Chloe O'Brian helps Jack back at CTU by breaking protocol. All of the characters resemble their real-life counterparts and the voice acting is well performed by the actors. The widescreen display further mimics the show as if you were watching it in HDTV.

The more than 50 missions during the game's 24-hour period take on a variety of gameplay forms. The majority are third-person action levels that involve shooting enemies and performing stealth moves. The targeting system is well-designed, but has some annoying flaws. L1 targets the closest enemy with a large crosshair and initiates a convenient strafe mode when using the left analog stick. R1 fires the gun in hand while the right analog stick enables you to move the target to an adjacent enemy. Left and right on the D-Pad switches between weapons and up and down on the D-Pad scrolls through items such as health and adrenaline. The use of the D-Pad works perfectly so that it doesn't require pausing in the midst of action. The only missing element here is an automatic switch between guns when ammo runs out. You're left with that ?clickity-click-click? sound when this happens, which can prove to be fatal in certain situations.

The biggest problem with the targeting system is that it doesn't always target the right enemy or any enemy at all. For example, if Jack Bauer has terrorists shooting at him from behind, you would naturally turn the character around so that he's facing the screen and attempt to lock on to the threatening bad guys. Sadly, the game insists on not targeting the enemies directly in front of Jack and rotating the camera for you when pressing L1. Instead, it flips Jack around and targets the way the camera has been facing, which in most cases is a wall or an empty hallway. Now, you could always press L2 to flip the camera around yourself, but since you're going to press L1 anyway, there should've been no reason for this extra step. Despite this annoying camera quirk, the targeting system feels very natural when it does work.

The context-sensitive X button allows you to press up against a wall or crate in order to seek cover. However, there's little need to cautiously take corners like Jack and Agent Curtis Manning do in the TV show every week because it's sometimes easier to shoot enemies at point blank range. The only time you'll really want to shoot from afar is during sniper missions, which work a lot like a Silent Scope knockoff.

Car levels require manning the wheel of a vehicle in point to point or chase missions. Although nothing but extremely-watered-down GTA-style environments and not very fun compared to the third-person action stages, other cool elements are present. When aggressively navigating around corners, the camera incorporates a rocky camera motion to mimic the show. Also, in this game, you can see oncoming traffic flash their high beams and actually hit pedestrians--sometimes a necessary sacrifice for the sake of national security.

The rest of the missions are rounded out by a bunch of simple mini-games. All of these mindless levels involve pressing the correct face button, whether the point is to defuse a bomb, hack into a computer or interrogate a suspect. Completely devoid of any real challenge or excitement, these missions only serve to give the game variety, but feel more like a chore and a waste of precious 24-time.

It should be noted that the game won't actually take 24 hours to complete, nor will it take most players half of that time. There's unfortunately no multiplayer deathmatch to speak of, but the game does give some incentive for going back and replaying missions. At the end of each level, you earn a percentage on levels based on things like number of enemies killed, headshots, accuracy, and enemies restrained. There are also a number of penalties that include teammates killed, surrendered enemies shot, damage to vehicle and health used. All of these stats go toward you becoming a better agent and receiving a better overall letter grade. Scoring 90% or higher on a mission unlocks character models, character images and video interviews. The video interviews are the only worthy unlockable item, and yet they are available on the 24 website, so there is incentive, but it's not a lot.

Bottom Line
24: The Game makes Jack Bauer the new James Bond. Although not without flaws, this licensed game successfully captures the suspenseful nature seen each week on Fox and puts players in control of the Counter Terrorist Unit hero. Anyone that hasn't been enthralled by the drama will tire of boring mini-games, be irked by shifting window panels, become frustrated with the lapses in the targeting system and feel disappointed by the lack of a deathmatch or co-op mode. True, a lot more could've been done with this license, but for 24 fans it's more forgivable and only a hope that another day is in store for the virtual Jack Bauer.

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