Crime Wave is a side-scrolling shooter with certain similarities to Narc in tone and gameplay. Controlling a police officer, the player shoots his or her way through slums, inner cities, and other locations, trying to destroy a powerful criminal organization and save the President's gorgeous, young, and single daughter. The game features digitized graphics.
Before I get into reviewing this game, let me start by admitting that side-scrolling action shoot-'em-ups aren't my forte. They go to fast for my old tired eyes and all the different enemies running around, combined with constant trigger-action tend to make me nervous. Nevertheless I believe that being open minded is a virtue and although curiosity killed the cat, I really wanted to try something besides adventure games for a change. So, I opted for Crime Wave, a 1990 street violence, gore splattering, mind numbing sidescroller from Access Software.
It all starts with the presidents' daughter being kidnapped by some men of low moral standing. The chief of police is desperate and calls in his best free-lance gunslinger, Luke McCabe. This vigilante has sunglasses the size of Luxemburg and a passion for shooting, so he's extremely cut out for the job. It all starts at the train yard...
You take control of Luke, (badly) dressed in a red-and-white jogging suit and his colossal sunglasses that make Sony Crockets' pale in comparison. And, true to the genre, loads and loads of baddies come running, shooting and dodging and throwing all kinds of stuff. There are three levels of difficulty to chose from and the lowest settings starts out pretty easy, but gets hectic pretty soon. At the advanced level, you'll have to hold down the fire button non-stop and pray! The enemies get tougher the further you advance and all kinds of weirdoes appear, from shuriken throwing ninjas to fatso's with flamethrowers and the occasional mechanical contraption. The game play consists of shooting everything that moves, picking up a scarce power-up or bonus-live and carry on.
The graphics are pretty decent. All characters are digitized from real-life actors, but due to the low resolution the quality never excels. The in-game animations are nice, especially if your a guy in the middle of puberty, since the dame you've got to rescue will appear frequently in a skimpy (but tasteful) red evening gown-thingy! Backgrounds are nice and colorful but the distinction between them and your targets is big enough, so no problem there. One thing that sets this game apart from others in its genre is its abundant goriness. You've got a weapon capable of firing both bullets and rockets, and shooting the latter at your enemies has a rather disorganizing effect on their remains. Limbs and blood flying all around made this game illegal in Germany at the time (actually, lots of games featuring violence were banned by the German government in those day) but it can be fun to watch your enemies explode in a fountain of blood en body parts!
As for the sound, I was pretty disappointed. The grunts and gunshots are mediocre at best, and although the intro featured a catchy tune, during the entire game not one song was played. Usually a speedy, driving, motivational backgrounder can really improve the overall stress level of the game, but after playing for ten minutes of only 'Urgh, bang, bang, booooom' the noises get rather irritating.
In conclusion: this game is nothing special. The campy theme is nice, as are Luke's sunglasses but other then that It's a shoot-'em-up with an above average amount of gore, decent graphics, crappy sound and absolutely no music. It can be fun to play for a while, and by all means do so, if you like this kind of game, but there's no reason to get all worked up for it.
Too easy and too dumb. The story is "very original" - president's daughter was kidnapped and You, "super crime fighter" Luke McCrabe, are on a rescue mission. Super crime fighter? What the...? He looks more like a comedian to me. Oh, there is one good thing in the game that added just about 30% to it - president's daughter! She's really cute.
Arcade-style action game by Access Software - very "inspired" (to put it mildly) by the coin-op game Narc. Nothing special, except that most of the blood-filled graphics are digitized - as done very often in Access Software's games of that time. The plot is just there to window-dress the action part: the president's daughter is kidnapped, and it's up to you, "super crime fighter" Luke McCrabe to rescue her and save the day. Gameplay is simple 2D side-scrolling action, in which all you do is blast endless waves of baddies. Digitization is a technique that may be useful and attractive for adventure games, but for this kind of action game it just didn't work out-- everything looks very pixellated, cardboard-cutout, and people's movements are very jerky (imagine moving paper dolls around). The game is far too easy, too repetitive, and boring to watch. Even the action sequence in Dynamix' Rise of The Dragon is a lot more fun than this entire game.
Without a doubt, Crime Wave has the appeal of a cheap shareware game, and a low point in Access' long career. No wonder the company didn't return to the action genre at all after this Real Dog.
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