The following takes place between 19:00 and 20:00. [i]24[/i] is currently the most popular Fox show on television. Seems only right to milk the franchise with a quick tie-in, right? But it seems SCEE has gone the extra mile, and made a worthwhile game here. Let’s check it out, shall we? Let me start off by saying one thing: Fans of the series should play this game. If you’re a fan of [i]24[/i] and you haven’t already played it, then go out and rent the game as soon as possible. If you’re a not a fan of [i]24[/i], then you’re probably not going to get much enjoyment out of this game. That’s the short version at least.
For those not familiar with [i]24[/i], it’s set in real-time, surrounding the events of a day in Jack Bauer’s life. And he has a lot of bad days. Jack works for the Los Angeles CTU (Counter Terrorist Unit), and frequently ends up putting his life on the line to protect his country. And as [i]24[/i]: The Game starts, he’s at it again. It’s 6 AM, and Jack is leading a CTU strike team into a cargo ship. CTU has got an anonymous tip that the ship is full of weapons, and the toxic chemical Ricin. Jack finds the Ricin, rigged to blow. As the bomb is disarmed though, the rest of the team reports that there are no weapons on board. Furthermore, the entire crew of the ship is dead. As CTU follows up on another lead, it becomes clear that it’s going to be another long day for Jack Bauer… The game takes place between Day 2 and 3 of [i]24[/i]. Written by an actual writer of the show, the game explains a few unanswered questions from the show.
Here’s where problems start to arise though – the game assumes that everyone playing is intimately familiar with [i]24[/i]. The characters get no introduction, and many casual players will find themselves getting confused between them. Provided you’ve seen the first two seasons of the show, you’ll be fine.
The bulk of the gameplay is set in third person shoot-em-up style, with a bit of stealth, driving, and lots of mini games thrown in. The shooting system takes a lot of getting used to; holding down L1 targets an enemy and you use the right analogue stick to fine aim. Flicking the analogue stick towards an enemy makes you track them instead. This system takes quite some getting used to, but once you’ve got it down, it all gets a lot easier. There’s a fair amount of variety in the weapons, including a nice tazer gun – words can not describe how fun it is to electrocute someone as Kim Bauer.
Another large chunk of gameplay is GTA-esque driving missions. The city of Los Angeles has been recreated fairly well here. Unfortunately, there isn’t much variety in the driving sequences – they all follow the same formula of driving to one location, evading an enemy, and returning to CTU. This patchy gameplay is annoying; in some places, the game is spectacular, in others, it’s terrible. The story more than makes up for it though, and you’ll find yourself pulling through the dodgy areas, just to see where the story leads.
The soundtrack is amazing. It’s composed by Sean Callery, just like the show, particularly towards the end of the game, the music becomes pretty epic. Although the graphics aren’t that great, cut scenes are done very well. The voice acting is top notch, with the entire cast of the show lending their voices. The same can not be said about the hundreds of random enemies though. They all get bland, uninteresting voiceovers.
There are a few problems with the controls. Sometimes you have to climb on top of objects to proceed. The climb button is the same as the roll button and your character is prone to just randomly rolling into any object you try to climb onto. At points, you practically have to struggle with the controls to get your character to actually climb onto the object in front of him. While these flaws aren’t devastating, they should have been an easy fix. The one big, real problem is this: the game isn’t in real time. That, to a fan of [i]24[/i], is a problem. It’s annoying, as certain parts of the game have been made carefully, to feel as though they play in real time. Others though… one scene has Tony walk out of CTU, and appear at a subway station, literally ten seconds later. There are the occasional nice touches, like when your cell phone rings at just the wrong time, or when Jack needs to find the locations of several snipers, so the action cuts away to CTU. There, you play a minigame, locating possible snipers by way of scanning for heat signatures. Upon completion, the action cuts back to Jack, whose PDA now has the locations of the possible snipers.
There’s a fair amount of replay value – every mission has an unlockable bonus. Most of these are character models, which are nice to look at. There are a couple interviews with the cast, and some nice artwork too. [i]24[/i] fans need to play this game. It’s definitely a purchase. Hearing all the actors, now mostly deceased, is a great reward in itself. Final verdict for non fans – Rent. But, rent series 1 and 2 first. It makes the game a [b]lot[/b] more complete.