I must admit I was a little skeptical about NARC. I mean come on, a remake of a 1988 2-D side scroller that featured two cops in pallete swapped spandex jumpsuits and motorcycle helmets, who's mission was to bring down Mr. Big's criminal empire one needle throwing junkie at a time. I think it was this that allowed NARC to fly under the radar. This game not only met my expectations, it exceeded them!
First off, it's $19.99! Can't beat that. Secondly, while not completely innovative NARC does do some things different than your standard third person shoot-'em-up. Let's focus on the latter. I think it's pretty cool you take drugs to defeat crime (Kids, don't take drugs in real life, they're bad for you). I mean sure you've got games like Max Payne where pill poppin' was the norm, but in NARC this function adds more depth to the gameplay in my opinion. Smoking weed produces a bullet time-esque effect complete with screen warping. This is a neat twist on an old play mechanic, because in games like Dead to Rights your character can just magically slow time down.
The story is kinda like the 1988 version, execept with Hollywood caliber voice talent to flesh out the dialog. It's refreshing to see more actors taking part in the gaming industry. I will say this though, let's give Michael Madsen a break though, seriously. His voice really doesn't fit the look of the character. To me, Det. Forzenski looks like Tyler Durden from Fight Club. Too bad Midway didn't opt to have a Brad Pitt sound alike voice the dialog instead of Madsen. Small complaint. The soundtrack is awesome. I like being able to walk between parts of town and hear the BGM change from 70's R&B to contemporary stuff like Cypress Hill. I also liked how depending on what drug you take, the music changes again. Neat trick.
The level design that I've experienced so far is pretty tame. You can equate it to State of Emergency. The graphics are the only real weak point. As said before NARC looks a little like State of Emergency, but less blocky and stiff. Being able to apprehend suspects as you see fit is another welcomed addition. I mean regardless, all arrests end in handcuffs, but it's the means in which you get to that point that makes NARC fun. I like watching your character tackle a fleeing drug dealer, then proceed to beat the bejeezus out of him while he's on the ground.
It looks like Midway is getting its reputation back from the 8-bit/16-bit days. NARC is definately worth a purchase and might as well buy it instead of renting, cause if you rent it for $5, you've already paid a quarter of the total price anyways!