A chilling vision of things to come.
In the distant past, we imagined a cloudy future filled with apartment complexes high above the Earth. We would don shirts with triangle collars and drive our flying cars to work.
And since that future is now, I demand my triangle shirt-collars and robot maids, dammit! Hanna and Barbara are complete failures at pre-cognition.
In the future world described in Minority Report, however, pre-cognates are much, much more dependable. They have ability to look into the future and see inclement events - not the latest in fashion trends, but future murders.
The movie succeeded as a sci-fi romp thanks to a great story and cool atmosphere. But like oh-so-many movie to game translations, Minority Report the game gets mired in poor design decisions, leading to a very bleak picture of the future indeed.
Across all three platforms, you play as Tom Cruise's character in the movie, Chief John Anderton, a man wholly vested in the prospect of Future Crime enforcement. Only now, Anderton is a platinum blond, bereft of that familiar crooked smile, and he's much more prone to violence.
The idea behind the Future Crime program was non-violence. The three pre-cognitives of Pre-Crime could see into the future, predicting murder and making the world a seemingly safer and happier place. But in the game version of Minority Report, you play as John Anderton, crazed mass murderer.
Okay, I'm exaggerating, but you can stomp on people's lifeless bodies and throw them out of windows. While it can be fun in a sick way to toss your Pre-Crime coworkers to their death, it doesn't fit with the ideas of the movie much at all.
And even though a game doesn't have to "perfectly" fit its movie source, it's terribly ironic to run around murdering in a non-murder world. Plus, it gets boring after a while lobbing people to their deaths.
Besides throwing enemies about, Anderton's basic attacks include a punch, a kick, a slide, and a block. There are also some simplistic combos that involve chains of three attacks. Each of the different system controllers comfortably adheres to the control style of the game; even the Gamecube controller seems well adapted to the control layout.
There have been complaints that the slide move is too powerful, but there are still factors that keep it in check. Enemies who can block the slide pop up every so often, and in order to initiate a slide, running room is required.
And it isn't always easy to run when droves of enemies surround you, which will happen constantly. Problematically, the game chooses to just load you up on enemies rather than add depth to the fighting system and level design. The game often requires you to knock out some invisible quota of bad guys before opening up the next section and more baddies, which is a really lame design choice.
Minority Report plays out stage by stage in a standard fashion, with jarring load times in between each cut scene and level. While all loads are disrupting, the Xbox seems to load the fastest, while the Gamecube slightly edges out the PS2.
Some of the stages give Anderton access to special devices, from futuristic non-murdering weapons to jetpacks. These items are great fun to use, but are far too scarce and quickly used up. Another scarcity are the hidden money icons that can be used to purchase more health, ammo and new fighting combos, though the fight upgrades prove minimally beneficial anyway.
The physics model is worth a mention, as its nicely done. The flailing bodies react like rag dolls to the environment, smashing into tabletops and crashing through glass in a hailstorm of shards. You can even continuously kick a fallen body from one side of the room to the other.
Visually, the game captures a futuristic bleakness with stark textures and frequent usage of blue hues to match the movie. None of the versions can reach the same bleached out aesthetics of the movie, though the concussion gun does come close as it warps the air around its shot.
The Xbox version looks the sharpest, with the smoothest framerate. Jaggies and inconsistent framerates are visible throughout the PS2 version, but texture wise, the three systems look quite similar. Some of the cutscenes seem off-synch in the Gamecube version, but it's relatively the same presentation quality as the others.
Most of the sound effects are traditional fighting game fare, but the concussion gun has the pleasing hollow air 'pop' taken right out of the movie. Unfortunately, the limited music doesn't seem to be from the film and is mostly forgettable. Anderton might not be voiced by Tom Cruise, but he has some good angry voice acting. Everything else is middling.
There really isn't much here beyond a half-decent fighting engine and the entertaining rag-doll physics. The level design and flow of the game grows tiring quickly. Perhaps if Minority Report the game had better matched the movie, the final product would be more fun and interesting. Alas, if only Activision could foresee the future...