When you're the son of a betrayed crime lord, things can get tough, so it's easy to understand the stress young Marcus of True Crime: New York City was under the night he attempted to avenge the attempted murder of his father, and wound up gunning down a house full of people. Still, it's a little unsettling to learn that a few years later, this same Marcus has made it onto the New York City Police Force. He does seem to have cleaned up. Pity that things have started to go wrong for him again, beginning with his mentor's mysterious death. Some people are just unlucky.
As Marcus, players have to keep up with daily police duties while simultaneously solving the recent murder. In its most impressive accomplishment, the game recreates an enormous, though monotonous, Manhattan, so large it can't be crossed on foot. Vehicles are easy to acquire, either by flagging down taxis or by flashing your badge at drivers who, after sufficient cursing, will hand over their cars. The game's graphics aren't great, but the variety of gameplay more than compensates. Break up a fender-bender fight, or handcuff gun-wielding prostitutes… who knows what the day may bring?
True Crime: New York City isn't for the faint of heart. Violence and strong language pervade the game from its first moments. While it's refreshing to interact with such realistic AI characters, the experience can get abrasive. Controls are tricky; things go wrong. Letting your car drift slightly from the road, for example, results in pedestrian bloodbaths of horrifying proportions.
Beyond the game: In the face of a potentially overly dramatic plot involving gangsters, backstabbing, and mass murder, the game offers believable characters, high-quality writing, and excellent voice-acting.
Worth playing for: The good-cop/bad-cop dynamic. Though this element has less impact now than it did in Streets Of L.A., players still have the option of playing nice or going rough. Perp being uncooperative? Break his neck. It's amazing what you can get away with sometimes.
Frustration sets in when: The dark, dangerous streets of NYC get a little too literal; even cops need to see where they're going.
Final judgment: True Crime: New York City is hardly revolutionary. But it does offer a solid, enjoyable gameplay experience—if you have the stomach for it.