Review: A fitting sentence for playing this game.
Eidos' urban outing, 25 to Life
, is a prime example of the theory that action titles need more than just gunplay to set themselves away from the pack. 25 to Life tries to accomplish this with a killer soundtrack that features an all-star lineup of artists including 2Pac, DMX and Xzibit. Unfortunately for 25, a soundtrack only takes you a little bit farther.
Corruption and redemption are both common themes in videogames. In 25 to Life you get a little taste of both. With a visual style that borrows from the urban decor in GTA: San Andreas (right down to the abnormally sparse interior decoration), 25 weaves a tale of a thug looking to make a new life for his family. Of course, leaving a gang isn't that simple and he soon finds himself double-crossed on his way out the door. In a desperate attempt to save his family, he heads back to a life of crime, only to find himself pulled deeper into the corrupt world of undercover cops and drug traders. The game also puts you in control of police trying to clean up their own problems. Internal affairs are looking for the corrupt cop that is working with your former boss.
Is the story convoluted? Maybe just a little bit. Luckily, each of the levels really just comes down to picking up a gun (there are a wide variety to wield) and shooting the other guys with guns. While this creates an easily accessible videogame it really does set itself up for repetitive gameplay. There are also the questions you could ask like: "Why do these cops get to go in firing away?" and "How many shots to the head does it take to drop an enemy?"
The third-person action in 25 to Life never really manages to inject any kind of energy into the game. Nor does the visceral look and sound of the gunplay seem to have any impact on the characters that you shoot (a point blank shot to the head with a 357 doesn't drop a guy?). Also, while the mouse and keyboard combination works adequately for controlling your characters it doesn't have the intuitive feel that this game might achieve with a gamepad. In a nutshell, playing 25 to Life feels like you are just going through the motions.
On the upside, 25 to Life does one very interesting thing with the single-player mode that I hope other games mimic. While each of the game's missions have the requisite objectives there are a number of secondary objectives that you can try to accomplish. While this, in and of itself, is nothing new, 25 to Life uses these secondary goals as a means for unlocking various bling
that you can use to trick out your online character. In the grand scheme of things it won't change the gaming industry but this reward system is a way to state your level of accomplishment for everyone else to see it.