LGR – Crime Wave – DOS PC Game Review


[typing] Okay, I can’t stand it anymore.
I’ve got to talk about Crime Wave. No, not Crime Wave. And no, not Crime Wave. Crime Wave! Released in 1990 for MS-DOS PCs by Access Software, followed by Commodore Amiga
and Atari ST ports later on. But this DOS version is the one that features
the most interesting stuff as far as I’m concerned, with 256-color VGA graphics featuring
digitized actors on eight floppy disks. Heh heh. I love that having a hugely inconvenient number of disks is a selling point. Another plus is this box art. Good lord. What a prime example of over-the-top post-’80s cheese. I can’t help but be enamored with it. Sci-fi Bono, screaming crazy guy, a height-challenged ninja
kicking at a trucker in his pajamas. It’s just too perfect! Lift up this glorious cover
to reveal the contents of the box, including a quick rundown of the game’s characters and the promised octuple floppy disk set. Ahh… More floppies are good floppies. You also get an Access Software product catalog, an Addendum for Version 2.0 letting
you know that you have basic playability, one delightfully complex registration card, and a super important manual, largely because it serves as the game’s copy protection. The manual also features a section letting you know how to use the game’s
RealSound capabilities to their fullest. And yes, Crime Wave has sound effects that come
through your PC speaker with no sound card required. Pretty neat stuff at the time. Finally, here’s a card letting you know
the keyboard may not work properly, which is always a good sign. After some quick, yet no less annoying, copy protection, Crime Wave beings with more amazing art work and an example of RealSound in action. [tinny cymbal crash] [tinny prog rock music plays] Ehh, any Pink Floyd fans in the house? [Pink Floyd’s “One Slip” plays] Ah, who cares if they ripped off someone else’s work? You can hear it on a PC speaker,
so it was worth the risk! After this, you can start a new game and pick
your difficulty setting, including a Kids mode. Good thing, too. A game called “Crime Wave”
sure has kids game written all over it. Speaking of kids, the intro sequence begins
by talking about the dark future of 1995, where major cities have become criminal wastelands filled with arson, extortion, drugs and murder. Basically the plot of “Teletubbies,”
if I remember correctly. Then we get a scene showing Brittany Cole, the daughter of the president, who is promptly kidnapped. This surprises absolutely no one, especially not our protagonist. [laughs] Is Kingpin the only guy who performs kidnappings in 1995? Because he doesn’t even hesitate, he just knows. And yeah, I can’t help but read anything
that he says in the voice of Kung Fury, because these two universes belong together. [Kung Fury voice]
“I should check my crime computer, and then maybe hack time itself.” The crime computer then searches
FBI databases and reveals everything. And I mean everything, including what the president’s
daughter looks like topless. Ah, clearly the FBI leaves no stone unturned. You then sneak a peek into Kingpin’s headquarters, where they’re tracking your every move
via their magic surveillance network. And why they don’t just use this to counter your
movements or take you out from afar is astounding but come on now. It will only hurt your brain
if you dare to think logically here. If you’re a bad enough dude
to save the president’s daughter, then it’s time to take action and
blow away everyone in NARC by Williams Electronics! Yeah, remember NARC? I do. Especially because it’s the same freaking game. But hey, who cares if they
ripped off someone else’s work? You can hear it on a PC speaker,
so it was worth the risk! Or was it? You see, Crime Wave requires an
8 MHz CPU, but that’s being generous. Just look how badly it runs at 16 MHz. You can kill the sound effects to help that and switching to a lesser graphics mode helps as well, and it’s actually one of the few games I know of
to utilize a 640×200 resolution dithered EGA mode for something other than a menu. But as cool as that is technically, then you’re
missing out on half the appeal of Crime Wave: its 256-color digitized graphics. It’s the same technique used in NARC, as well as in games like the
original trilogy of Mortal Kombat, where they took photos and
converted them to in-game graphics. Seeing snapshots of real locations and objects
making up each level was pretty cool at the time, and the same goes for each of the actors onscreen. And it’s still pretty enjoyable to see
them blow up in spectacular fashion with gory chunks flying all over the place. But again, this all just looks so similar to NARC that I can’t help but feel constantly
reminded that I’m playing a worse game. And while I suppose it’s somewhat excusable, seeing as NARC never officially
appeared on MS-DOS to my knowledge, Crime Wave remains the
lesser experience by a long shot. My main gripe is that speed it plays at,
even on the recommended hardware. No matter which of my computers I tried it on, it just felt like I was trudging through a vat of silly putty. Sorry, but your turbo button is not going to help here. And that’s a problem, since I like turbo buttons. And also because a key part of
Crime Wave is outmaneuvering enemy fire. Your enemies spawn endlessly,
so you can’t stop moving. Ever. Or you’ll just get killed. Furthermore, the best way to play is
by constantly crouching like a doofus because otherwise you’re a tall slow-moving target. Better to be a short slow-moving target, even though
it makes moving around that much crappier. Still the gameplay itself is somewhat enjoyable once you adjust to the sluggishness
and use it to your advantage. That doesn’t make it very fun, but it is manageable. You’ve got two weapons at all times: a small weapon and a large weapon. Typically the small weapon shoots single rifle shots and the large weapon shoots rockets. But this can change whenever you find a power-up, which will give you something
else to shoot for a while instead. These pickups often just fall from the sky
like mana from anarchist heaven. Otherwise, just blow things up to find more stuff. And, uh… that’s it, really. Kill everything you can and don’t die. There’s hardly any variation throughout the entire game, and when there is, it often just serves
as an irritant rather than a challenge. And even with the copious jibbing
and increasingly silly cut-scenes, the overall pacing of the game and the quirky
enemy behavior just wore me down fast. The whole game is over in about an hour,
so it’s not too bad, but the main reason I kept going is because I wanted to see what kind of
ridiculous ending could possibly be in store. And, man, what an ending! The final battle is, of course, against Kingpin and he’s gone all Dr. Robotnik,
showing up in a rotund robot. There’s no strategy here. Just shoot at it
a bunch and hope you have enough lives. Once he’s dead, you grab the president’s
daughter and head to the White House where you’re congratulated and stuff. Then you, uh… [laughs] …you… [laughs] I don’t know what I expected, but it wasn’t
Bono McCabe in a Speedo on the beach. But never to be outdone, the president’s
daughter pops up in a bikini, ticking the final checkbox for the
most cliched ending imaginable. Ah, Crime Wave. What a timepiece! This is one of those titles that could only
exist in the moment it was created. And as badly as it’s aged, it’s fun to see what once passed
for a full-priced computer game. From its crazy cover art to its
trope-filled uber-macho story line, to its unapologetic usage of music from Pink Floyd and game play from NARC, to its bizarre Coca-Cola ads that
I’m sure Coke totally signed off on. Yeah. It’s just a strange thing from a more carefree
period in gaming, and I find it fascinating. If incredibly flawed. Because seriously, there’s like two years
in the entire realm of human history where this could be sold on store shelves and stand even a chance of being successful. It’s not one of those that I’m going to recommend
playing nowadays though because, you know, ehh. But still, I just wanted to share this thing because it’s been on my shelf
taunting me with its weirdness for years. And now, I can be at peace. If you enjoyed this video on “Not NARC,” then perhaps you would like some of
my other videos that are not on NARC. Subscribe to my channel if you’d like to be
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