Car Jack Streets starts well enough, with some superbly drawn and atmospheric cut scenes, plus ‘gangsta’ rap music, leading you through the plot, i.e. that you’ve got to go on a life of (car) crime in order to get money to pay off the big mafia boss ‘Frankie’. You’re then led into a series of tutorial ‘missions’, getting you used to the virtual d-pad and the ‘GPS’ (map crib), all the while enjoying some sounds of the city in stereo.
So far so good. You ‘steal’ your first car and the music starts up, with several hours of ‘pumping’ rhythms to enjoy while you cruise around – if you get that far. There are numerous problems here, unfortunately. First is that the action is all top-down, making it very hard to intuitively control your cars when they’re driving down the screen, for example, with left making the car go right, and vice versa. There’s an optional steering wheel control rather than the basic left/right option, but this only improves things slightly.
Then there’s the ‘GPS’. This is more accurately just a map, zooming out to show where you’re supposed to be going next, the one thing it doesn’t show clearly is your current position, making navigating around far more tiresome than it should have been.
The third problem is the real biggie, though. The opening cut scenes appear every time you start or relaunch the game. Every time. A full minute or two’s worth, and there’s no way you can step past them – this is very, very frustrating and simply bad design. The scenes should only have to be seen ONCE, even by novices – the plot isn’t THAT hard to grasp, surely?
Pleasantly surprised though I was by the lure of level after level of organised crime, by the way you can drive freely, smashing through garbage cans and the like, by the way the game’s light levels vary according to the real time of day, the three problems above had ruined things for me so badly that I simply couldn’t continue with any kind of pleasure.
Back to the drawing board for the developers, I think. Call me in a few months when you’ve coded up a first person driving view, sorted out the GPS, and put in a cut scene skip.