Narc review

Outlawed in Australia; PSM2 hopes Britain does the same

Unlike the windswept, red shoe-wearing Dorothy, Midway probably aren't that keen on Oz. Well, not after the Aussie censors took one look at Narc and slapped an embargo on it quicker than you can say "drugs anyone?".

We could, at this moment, spout all kinds of pretentious guff about how beautifully permissive our own country's censorship laws are. We won't though - because if they were more stringent, we wouldn't have to play this half-arsed street gang 'effort'. Yep, we're now officially pro-censorship. In this case, anyway.

Britain could learn a lot from the Australians. They may make piss-weak lager, but banning crudular games sounds good to us.

To the layman, Narc looks like the younger, scruffier brother of GTA. Of course, that layman would have had to be living under a rock for the past decade and have no conception of decent games.

But it does have similarities. Like, erm... there's a city full of independent pedestrians, and you get to fire shotguns and rocket launchers. Brilliant. Oh, and there are cars, but you can't get into them. Damn. So yes, it's just like GTA. But much more rubbish.

Unlike Rockstar's series, Narc isn't as open to free-roaming exploration as it should be. And when you do get the chance to look around, you'll soon be cursing the claustrophobic surroundings.

It's a tiny city. More of a hamlet, really. And in this hamlet, you play Jack Forzenski (voiced by Michael Madsen) and Marcus Hill (some bloke from Any Given Sunday), two cops after the same thing - the supplier of a new street drug named, erm, 'liquid soul'.

You soon become embroiled in all kinds of corrupt cop activity - using excessive force during arrests, for example, selling confiscated narcotics to the public or simply cuffing a tramp you've caught shooting up, before cold-heartedly slamming a bullet into the back of his head while he's helpless. Depends how brutal you are.

In a game so full of criminal activity (almost every citizen is a drug dealer), you're faced with a moral dilemma. Do you hand the contraband into police HQ or do you just find the nearest alley, get smacked off your tits and forget about actually playing the game?

Tough decision, eh? Well, you have to take the drugs, as it turns out, but it's little more than a (frankly strange) diversion.

In a way, we quite like Narc - there's a certain charm about the childish way such extreme violence and anti-social behaviour is dished up but the endless catalogue of problems makes it impossible.

The glitchy animation, the repetitive soundtrack, the unresponsive control system, the high boredom factor... the list goes on.

There's fun to be had and, at 20 notes, you could do worse, but once you're bored of what is a one-joke game, any appeal drains away. Australia really isn't missing out on anything.

Narc is out now for Xbox and will be released for PS2 in July

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