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Reason for controversy: Portrayal of corruption, crime and drug use within the police force.
The original, early '90s edition of NARC was a politician and parent's dream come true. An over-the-top product of Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" campaign, it cast you in the role of a heroic cop taking down evil drug cartels by any means necessary.
But by 2005, those "means" had expanded to include some activities of which the Republican First Lady would never have approved. You're still a drug officer and you're still arresting drug dealers, only now you can actually sample the forbidden chemicals you've confiscated. Crack, acid, speed, Ecstasy, Quaaludes and marijuana are all available for consumption in NARC and benefit you with increased performance and accuracy.
To be fair, the narcotics also have damaging side effects if taken in excess. That tiny punishment is kind of cancelled out, though, by the fact that you can also sell the drugs for money.
How did the media miss this one? The gaming press saw the drugs in NARC for what they were - a shameless and obvious attempt to stir controversy - and chose to more or less ignore them. The mainstream media, meanwhile, was a little too busy with something called "Hot Coffee" in 2005 to froth over anything else.