Reservoir Dogs Review

Video games based on movies may be an inevitable occurrence these days with blockbuster classics like Scarface and The Godfather getting the digital treatment, but it’s a whole new level of added risk when you’re attempting to translate a cult sensation into an action game. For Eidos and Volatile Games, the prospect of bringing Quentin Tarantino’s ultra-violent, yet highly entertaining robbery flick, Reservoir Dogs to consoles and PC’s may have seemed like a genuinely good idea years ago when it was conceived, but the fact that the game itself looks and plays like it was produced on a kid’s salary really makes one wonder whether or not it was merely the creator’s subtle way of paying homage to the film’s low budget roots or the result of bad textures and lack of testing. Either way, this adaptation is far from being the worst out there, but considering the typical standards of a Tarantino film, it doesn’t quite measure up either.

The game does deserve some credit for not merely being an interactive remake, though. Instead, it admirably attempts to tie up many the film’s various loose ends. Players will go on a series of missions that take place within the timeline of the movie, from the initial planning of the diamond heist to the unfortunate aftermath. Eventually, as the story unfolds you’ll find the answers to many of the questions that the movie left behind such as, "How did Officer Nash end up in the warehouse?" and "What became of Mr. Blue and Mr. Brown?" Players will also have the unique opportunity to take part in the actual bank robbery, as well as various other moments that were never depicted in the movie.

Progressing through the game’s storyline requires you to complete various missions that will consist of either third person action sequences or driving levels. The portions where you’re navigating on foot definitely represent the better half of the gameplay with you controlling any one of the film’s main characters as they try and make their way through different kinds of dangerous situations without getting killed. As expected of an action game, you have the option of simply charging in with your guns blazing, ruthlessly taking down anyone who gets in your way — but there are many disadvantages to this approach (even though it can be fun). Just like Eidos’ hit series Hitman, you’ll be rated according to how well you can keep your cool. Turn the place into a morgue and you’ll be branded as a psychopath. Avoid unnecessary bloodshed, however, and you’ll be recognized as a career criminal or, better yet, a professional.

Mastering the appropriately named Crowd Control system will be crucial to your success as it will largely increase your chances of survival against the oncoming horde of policemen, who are all just itching to put bullet holes in you. That said, the ability to take hostages will be your greatest asset since they can be used as bargaining chips once you’re surrounded. To take someone captive, you have to press circle. Once that’s been done, you need to evaluate the situation and make the appropriate decision in order to move on. Oftentimes, a few threats are all you need in order to make the cops back down, but physical force, from head slams to pistol whips, can also be used to get the point across.

Each hostage will have a limit of how much abuse they can take, so you’ll definitely need to capture more than one bystander in order to get through a level. As you continue spreading mayhem, your adrenaline bar will slowly fill up. Once it maxes out, you can activate one of two special attacks that can clear out entire rooms. The first one throws you into a sort of faux-bullet time mode, at which point you can target various enemies and watch them all die in a highly stylized cinematic. The second one, which requires you to have a hostage, allows you to perform a character’s signature move which will effectively force all the cops in the area to lay down their arms and surrender. It hardly makes a lick of sense given how vastly outnumbered you are, but the pleasure you get from watching Mr. Blonde cut off someone’s ear (actually, it cuts away at the last second) is well worth the suspension of disbelief. The only problem, besides the obvious repetition, is that the mechanics are a little rusty and unpolished. The A.I. is severely lacking in terms of intuition and the amount of trouble you go through while controlling them makes it more of an exercise in frustration than anything else. Accuracy also becomes an issue due to the improper hit detection making it sometimes difficult to kill an enemy from far away, even when your shots are lined up perfectly.

The driving sequences will no doubt warrant a comparison to the Driver series. The handling is severely loose and any slight miscalculation of movement on the analog stick can have you instantly veering in the wrong direction. The fact that these missions are also very linear takes away from the amount of fun you could possibly have with them. Had the controls been tightened up a bit, and the area opened up a bit more to encourage exploration, it wouldn’t have been quite so bad.

There’s no doubt in my mind that I’ve been extremely spoiled by the visual quality of games like Shadow of the Colossus and Okami, but with everything else that’s gone wrong, it’s a bit disappointing to see how some of my favorite characters from the movie turned out. Character models are blurry and aside from Michael Madsen, who lent his voice and likeness to the game, everyone else just looks different; Mr. Brown looks like he’s put on a few pounds since the last time I’ve seen him. On top of that, the environment appears to be plagued with fuzzy textures and jagged edges. The only redeeming factor really, is the cutscenes, which are a lot more enjoyable to watch. It’s just a shame that the in-game graphics weren’t brought up to par.

Reservoir Dogs was infamous for its catchy soundtrack and colorful vocabulary. Fortunately, both of those qualities have been transferred over to the game quite faithfully and hardcore fans will be quite happy to know that many of the classic tracks from the film such as "Stuck in the Middle With You," and "Hooked on a Feeling" all make a noteworthy appearance. Despite only having one actor from the original movie providing voice work, it’s worth mentioning that the stand-ins do quite a satisfactory job. Steve Buscemi’s replacement is especially effective in capturing the essence of the character.

Reservoir Dogs is ultimately geared towards the hardcore fan and they will more likely be able to look past the game’s faults and note the development team’s good intentions. While the story itself is quite compelling and the premise is very interesting, the numerous technical problems keep this title from ever achieving its true potential. Much like the film, it will probably fare better as a cult hit.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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