In the distant past of the early 2000's, it was common for a big budget movie to receive a tie-in game. These were made to drum up excitement and sell merchandise. Love the movie? Then play the game and experience the movie again in digital form!
However, most movie games were the equivalent of unbuttered toast. Serviceable but bland. Some were like buttered toast, tasty and enjoyable. Others were like burnt toast, charred, tasteless, and better off in the garbage.
This leads to this review's subject, Minority Report: Everybody Runs. Based on the film starring Tom Cruise, which in of itself was based on a Philip K. Dick short story, Minority Report is set in a world where a special branch of law enforcement arrests crooks before they even commit a crime.
Development duties were handled by Treyarch, the same studio responsible for the Sam Raimi Spider-Man games and every Call of Duty not made by Infinity Ward or Sledgehammer. Seeing how Spider-Man 2 is the hot, buttered toast of movie licensed games, Minority Report: Everybody Runs could very much be the same...or not. Let's find out.
Set in the distant future of 2054, you play as John Anderton, captain of PreCrime. PreCrime's job is to arrest perps before they commit a crime. They're able to do this using PreCogs, genetically modified humans who can predict the future. Because of PreCrime, the national crime rate has plunged.
After thwarting an attempted murder, Anderton returns to HQ only to discover something shocking. The PreCogs show him killing an unknown man. Confused and about to be arrested, Anderton flees HQ in search of answers. He eventually discovers that this vision is a minority report, meaning it's an outcome not all the PreCogs agree on.
Story, Writing, and Characters
Minority Report: Everybody Runs has an intriguing premise, but the game doesn't make the most of it. The game makes the classic mistake of assuming you have seen the movie and know what's going on. If you haven't, then 85 percent of the plot won't make sense. I understood the basic gist of the story, but the game's choppy pacing made it hard to keep track.
Characters come and go, there are sudden shifts in location from one scene to the next, and much of the film's nuance is lost in adaptation. I like the idea of free will vs. determinism, but Everybody Runs doesn't slow down to explore its themes. It's more concerned with getting to the next level so the player doesn't fall asleep.
|Don't mind him, he's hanging out.|
The video game emphasizes action, which is fine, but it creates a disconnect between cut-scenes and gameplay. During cut-scenes, Anderton is trying to prove his innocence, but it's hard to sympathize when in the previous level, he was chucking cops off skyscrapers. By the end, I'm pretty sure Anderton lowered Pre-Crime's employment by 70 percent.
This game may be subtitled Everybody Runs, but it should be Everybody Murders. Anderton seems to take joy dispatching everyone he crosses paths with, especially the FBI agents sent to monitor his behavior. Minority Report: Everybody Dies takes an engaging sci-fi thriller and turns it into a schlocky action fest.
There's a wrong way and a right way to play Minority Report: Everybody Runs. If you play it the wrong way, it's a mediocre brawler with clunky controls and difficulty spikes. If you play it the right way, it's a hilarious physics simulator that rivals the likes of Goat Simulator and Saints Row.
Minority Report is a brawler. Over the game's 40 levels, John Anderton punches, kicks, and throws his way to uncovering the conspiracy. Every now and then, Anderton gets his hands on guns, or a jetpack for some flying. The tutorial stages teach the player the basics before the story mode lets you off the leash.
Initially, the combat isn't half bad. There's a surprisingly large move-list, along with several techniques to unlock via the black market. When an enemy is dazed, Anderton can grab them. You can then either lay some extra blows, chuck them into the scenery, or throw them off a balcony. Throwing enemies is the easiest way to dispatch foes; not to mention, incredibly satisfying.
The main enemy is PreCrime. Occasionally, Anderton fights street thugs or robots, but for most of the campaign, it's the boys in blue. Some cops are armed with stun sticks, some are armed with guns, and some deploy tiny robots that can swarm the player or explode. There's also the occasional mall security guard, but these guys are no problem for dime-store Anderson Cooper.
|Everybody runs in Everybody Runs.|
When Anderton's fists get him nowhere, there are guns. Weapons include machine guns, shotguns, an energy rifle, a grenade launcher, and a launcher that fires swarms of tiny missiles. My personal favorite is the puke grenade, which stuns enemies and makes them puke their guts out.
Searching each level for secrets rewards you with money, weapons, or health. The game encourages you to destroy everything in sight and it's surprising how much destructibility there is. This only adds to the chaotic nature of the gameplay as you try breaking as much stuff as possible.
On paper, Minority Report: Everybody Brawls doesn't sound bad. In execution, it's equal parts clunky and frustrating. Despite the wide assortment of moves at your disposal, the basic punches and kicks are the most effective attacks. Trying any combos will get Anderton knocked off his feet.
Fighting is more manageable when it's only a few foes, but levels frequently pit you against large groups of enemies where the only choice is to give them the runaround. Successfully winning fights doesn't come from skill, but from running circles like a headless chicken and stopping to curb stomp dudes in the family jewels.
You have guns, but the game discourages you from using them because ammo is limited. It's best to save your ammo for enemies with guns. If you don't take them out first, they will quickly whittle away your health with their bullets. Most of your deaths are the result of being unable to take on all the enemies the game throws at you.
When the going gets tough, the black market supplies Anderton with weapons, supplies, and upgrades. Annoyingly, there's a limit on each item, and once it's gone, it's gone. I knew the black market was shady, but I didn't know they were stingy.
|He may claim he's innocent, but the fact he uses cops as meat shields shows otherwise.|
Variety is limited in Minority Report: Everybody Quits. Every mission is the same, kill all enemies, kill all enemies, k i l l a l l e n e m i e s. The game gets repetitive fast, and the choppy pacing means some levels may take ten minutes to beat, while others take less than a minute. It gets boring and with how cheap the difficulty is, I'm not afraid to admit I used cheat codes.
I'm not usually one to use cheat codes, but this was an instance where I felt it was justified.
The level design is straightforward, but there are times when it's unclear where you are supposed to go. A good example is a mission set in the Sprawl, a rundown section of the city. Anderton needs to find the exit, but it doesn't clearly explain where the exit is. That's not the problem, the problem is the level design makes it hard to tell what's safe to climb and what isn't.
I spent at least five minutes running around, murdering cops and bums alike, until I looked up that you're supposed to shimmy across some ledges to reach a window.
Minority Report is at its best during the jetpack stages. Flying is surprisingly smooth and it's fun to plow into cops. It's just a shame the jetpack is severely underutilized. I would have loved for some levels where you're flying through the city streets, evading the police while trying to reach a safe zone.
Boss fights aren't the best. They're either too easy, or surprisingly frustrating. The second fight against Moseley is especially annoying because he has a sweep kick that insta-kills Anderton.
Breaking the Game
Now, I mentioned there's a wrong way and a right way to play this game. The wrong way is playing the game as is. The right way is when you activate the cheat codes, which turns Minority Report from something forgettable into something special.
I laughed my ass off as Anderton crashed into furniture, flew around as a zombie, and beat the final boss senseless with a baseball bat. The cheat codes turn Minority Report into one of the most hilarious games ever made. Real life bogging you down? Play Minority Report and watch a dude turn the bodies of other dudes into his own Katamari ball. With the press of a button, watch as Anderton Cooper careens into patio furniture.
For all its faults, of which there are many, Minority Report is not short on entertainment.
Visuals and Sound
Graphically, the game looks okay. Characters and locations get the job done, and there's an impressive amount of destructibility. Glass shatters, furniture breaks, and rocks split in half after meeting the wrath of Anderton's fists. Plus, the ragdoll is truly amazing.
Tom Cruise didn't voice Mr. Anderton or provide his likeness, hence why he looks like that CNN guy and has the voice of Mr. Krabs. Clancy Brown does a decent job with what's he's given. Clancy makes the character a cocky hotshot unfazed by what's going on and not afraid to crack a one-liner or two. The rest of the voice acting is serviceable, and its hilarious enemies shout "I'm falling!" as you throw them to their deaths.
Remember, this is a T-rated game that lets you chuck guys off rooftops like nobody's business.
Minority Report: Everybody Runs meets all the hallmarks of a typical movie licensed game. Flimsy storytelling? Check. Clunky gameplay? Check. Controller breaking difficulty spikes? Check. It doesn't delve into any of the ideas the film posits, nor are the characters anything but forgettable.
The gameplay shows promise with its fisticuffs and jetpacks, but the moment-to-moment action is unsatisfying. Nothing says fun like being unable to pull off combos and defend yourself against simple hoodlums. Playing through the 40 levels felt like a chore, not helped by the game's messy pacing. It may only take four to five hours, but it's a long four to five hours.
However, once the cheat codes are activated, the gloves are off. What was once plain and forgettable becomes entertaining and cathartic. If you don't try out the cheats, you're missing out on what makes Minority Report so enjoyable.
Minority Report: Everybody Runs is like unbuttered toast. You're eating it and it's alright, but it could be better. You add some jelly and then it becomes tastier. This game may be a 5/10, but it's a delicious 5/10.
Final Score: 5/10