With anything retro being the cool at the moment, it was only a matter of time before Starsky & Hutch appeared again and just in time to pre-empt the movie with Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. For most people, all that you know about Starsky & Hutch is that they drove 'that red car with the white stripe' (yes, the Ford Gran Torino 'Striped Tomato'). Well thankfully, now you can get behind the wheel and take this muscle car for a spin, with a little cop shooting action thrown in. Ok, a lot of funk cop action thrown in.
You get to play Starsky & Hutch, both driving the car, and shooting out of the window at various items along the way. You start off the game, basically working your way through episodes, as in the TV show. As you progress, the story develops and more options open up to you. Each episode has a main objective and a second objective. Your aim is to fulfil these objectives, whilst collecting points for your entertainment value. If you are a boring driver, you'll run out of viewer rating, and fail. If you throw the car round corners in huge skids, crash through boxes and generally drive like a maniac, you'll have no problem. Whilst doing all this, you have to shoot or ram your opponent off the road.
The controls are really easy, and driving the car is great fun. If there are two of you you can split the controls two-player, one driving and one taking care of the shooting, using a driving wheel and a lightgun if you really want to get into it.
On completing an episode, the story will continue with the cutscenes and this is where simplicity rules. Rather than ghastly animation or mock video effects, the cutscenes play out with a voiceover from Antonio Fargas, the original actor who played Huggy Bear, and simple cartoon-like graphic stills, all oozing in 70s stereotypical cool. Nothing fancy, nothing flash - just simply done and very effective. There are also a number of free roaming challenges you can also tackle, which give you the chance to mess around in the car.
The sound is authentic to the TV show, as are the visuals, so this really is the complete package for the S&H fan. The inclusion of the TV ratings aspect means there is more to the game than just catching the bad guys, so it encourages you to drive a bit more like the Dukes of Hazzard (had to drop that in, whilst we're talking muscle cars).
Overall, it is a well polished and fun game - addictive, but not obsessively so. You will enjoy this game, but there is probably not quite enough to win any awards.
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