A tutorial on police brutality.
According to http://Howlongtobeat.com NARC (2005) can be completed around the four hour mark. So how come it has taken me two months two beat?
Well for starters – it’s not all Narc’s fault. I have been hopelessly launched into a Madden/Football frenzy, as per usual around this time of year (which I really should just make my annual break from blogging in August rather than beginning of summer). But blaming it all on Madden would be too easy, irresponsible and frankly just plain false. A lot of it is because this game has made me feel *icky* playing it.
And I don’t believe that *icky* is the intentional reaction any video game developer is hoping for. At least not in the Crime/Run n’ Gun genres. But alas, *icky* is the only word that comes to mind when trying to explain the NARC experience. A sad, muddled and confusing game with a storyline that is ripe with stereotype and just an overall experience that is saturated with a profound sense of emptiness.
NARC tells the tale of two former partners, Narcotics Agent, Jack Forzenski (voiced by the always brilliant and sexy, Michael Madsen) and D.E.A. Marcus Hill. They immediately fall into the typical crazy ass white cop with the uber professional black cop trope ala Lethal Weapon without any of the decent story telling or humor.
While surely there is subjects someone in the writing room thought were humorous at the time, a good percentage of the game’s humor misses tragically. Even more than the humor in this blog. Bold punchlines and all!
Within the first ninety or so seconds of the game demo, the game showcases a level of brutality against seemingly everyone in the city these officers are sworn to protect. Smashing prostitutes faces into the pavement. Executing drug dealers. Tackling a running suspect down to the ground, straddling them and pummeling them with both hands until they submit. All done in a way that’s fall short of Grand Theft Auto’s not-so-subtle commentary on current law enforcement methods.
My few regular readers know that I am not the cancelling type. I don’t subscribe to Twitter culture and I try to objectively look at the source material as a product of the time it was released. 2005 was a much more wild-west anything goes atmosphere as far as gaming goes and it due to that freedom of expression and creativity many game developers redefined the impact video games would have on culture forever. A lot of limits were pushed and many for good reason but it also seemed to launch an arms race of what developers could be the most outrageous. Midway fell into that rat-race head first with this one that simply tries too hard and is not clever enough to simply not look fucking dumb.
The game falls into a weird no man’s land where the devs were too sheepish to come out and just state, we’re making a really dirty, low brow game that glamorizes drug use, gang violence and the lengths of which dirty cops will go to get what they want but there is also way too much bootlicking and pro kick-ass cop commentary to pass off as a love letter to underground crime syndicates. The only thing worse then having one bad plot line is two bad plot lines.
As far as the game mechanics are concerned it’s fine. It works well enough. My largest gripe about the control is no matter what whenever you climb down from a ladder your character is unarmed. Generally there are hordes of enemies awaiting you so it will cost you some life points as you run in circles trying to click through your inventory looking for a gun to defend yourself.
Also, you can sprint for an unlimited amount of time and the two “cities” you work in are not large which is good considering you can’t drive a car. You can take down the largest international drug syndicate but you don’t have a license apparently.
However to me, probably the worst part of the game was it’s soundtrack which it proudly displays on the back. Tracks by DMX and Xzibit are supposedly featured throughout the game but you do not hear them very often. Instead basically hearing, “Pusherman” by Curtis Mayfield over and over and over for hours straight. Which is a great song. But after an hour or so it starts to delve into brainwashing material. Or at least that’s what it starts to feel like.
All in all the game tries to be an edgy as a Tarantino film or as fun as a GTA game and the writers are simply not clever enough to make it not cringe worthy.