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Crime Simulator Prologue Review (PC)

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Crime Simulator Promotional Art

Remember State of Emergency, and how it had us looting the bare-knuckle streets of a suburban neighborhood and ransacking the storefronts of all their electrical goods and kitchen appliances? Well, good news: Crime Simulator has just shown up to reinvent that wheel, and it’s also promising to deliver countless other unlawful atrocities, too; for example, it will allow you to lure fledgling gangsters into bear traps and, you know, steal their cocaine and what have you. What’s more, it will also give you the opportunity to mow pedestrians down in a saloon vehicle, and essentially cause mindless havoc in a city that, from the looks of it, will have little to zero police presence whatsoever. Sound like your idea of a good time? Then let’s press on.

Crime Simulator is still in its infancy, and so, if you’re looking for a full-fledged review of the game in question, then you might want to check back in a few months, preferably once it has launched in its full form. As it stands, there’s only the prologue to peruse, which of course comes with its own series of features—a classic selection of basic tutorials, and a couple of opportunities for beginners to flex their mischievous muscles in the art of criminality, for example. It’s a good start in any case, at least, and so, before you staple the aptly titled Crime Simulator Prologue to your to-do list, be sure to read on for a few pre-purchase pointers. Let’s jump right in to the thick of CookieDev’s latest romping, stomping, thief sim.

Rule This City

Character wielding a baseball bat (Crime Simulator)

As the title implies, Crime Simulator is all about—if you can dare to believe it—crime, and the soulless acts that certain individuals commit to become the next great mastermind in the criminal underworld. It doesn’t center its world around one activity, in particular, though; in fact, it opens up the doorway for countless daring exploits—theft, hacking, murder, and hijacking, for example. Suffice it to say that, if you’re looking to prove ol’ mother dearest that video games aren’t violent or in receipt of any controversial material, then you might want to consider keeping this one in a separate tab.

The truth is, this is not an educational tool, but rather, a form of outlet in which players can use to act on some of those intrusive thoughts in a relatively risk-free virtual environment. It’s like a Rage Room, perhaps, in the case that, you don’t necessarily want to act on your emotions in the presence of others, but when you’re given the chance to unleash your anger on random set pieces with a baseball bat without having to deal with the consequences, it becomes almost impossible to resist. This is, more or less, the same situation in Crime Simulator: you acquire the tools to do what you want, and essentially give the middle finger to social justice.

It is worth pointing out here that CookieDev is also responsible for Thief Simulator—yet another first-person crime simulation game in which users run rampant and cause city-wide chaos. As such, it doesn’t come as too much of a surprise to see that Crime Simulator, in spite of it having a wider range of components, has a lot of the same core mechanics and features. Is that a good thing? Meh — the jury’s out on that one.

Not Your Average Robin Hood

Character attacking enemy with a crowbar (Crime Simulator)

Crime Simulator begins with a few basic tutorials—stepping stones in which you learn the gist of the controls, and experiment with several of the key weapons and items that make up a solid portion of the story. To begin with, you have a metal pipe, as well as a bear trap or two, with which you can use to crack a few skulls and obtain one of several illegal substances. That, weirdly enough, is what a lot of the game is about: mindlessly slaughtering random people, and sniffing around their back pockets to see if they’re carrying any crack — the drug, that is. It goes a little beyond that, of course, but for the most part, the game does rely on your lack of moral compass to make what would otherwise be rather grizzly and ugly acts seem, I don’t know — fun? Does it do it well? Eh.

I will say this: the combat in Crime Simulator is all rather finicky, in the fact that, enemies don’t often react to your inputs, nor do they suffer from any fatal blows — even when they’re against the full power of a sledgehammer to the temple, for example. To kill an opponent, it’s merely the case of having to swing a melee weapon back and forth several times over until something—anything registers, which means having to watch them stumble and regain momentum several times over before they finally succumb to the trauma. It’s certainly an ugly feature in its current state, and something that doesn’t necessarily look good, much less feel good, either.

There are, of course, several ways to dispose of your enemies — luring them into traps, being the most effective way, weirdly enough. But even then, I honestly found that the AI was just, I don’t know, wooden.

Ascending the Ladder

Cannabis farm interior (Crime Simulator)

I’m not in a position to criticize the lion’s share of the world that Crime Simulator centers itself around, as it’s still in its early stages of production. In fact, I have a pinch of morbid curiosity hanging over my shoulders with this one, as CookieDev has, in all fairness, promised to deliver a great deal more to the mix over the course of its rollout phase—the ability to manufacture your own cannabis production lines, as well as embark on various criminal enterprises, being two of the most alluring features of the bunch. As for whether or not any of these things will translate well on a virtual level, however, is still a bit of a mystery. If, however, I am to compare it to the combat system that’s currently on display, then honestly, color me unimpressed.

The feature that grappled me the most with Crime Simulator, really, was its co-op feature—a prime function that allows fledgling partners in crime to enroll in their own criminal endeavors and ascend the ladder as a duo. I can’t say that I’ve seen much of this in action just yet, so I can’t make a firm judgement on its effectiveness or whether or not it aids flair to the overall experience, either. With that said, it does add a little extra flavor to the journey, and I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t weirdly compelled to see which course it takes to in its next chapter.

To acknowledge the elephant in the room: yes, a lot of these things could’ve made it into a DLC for Thief Simulator 2. As for why CookieDev decided to clone its primary assets and start from scratch, however, is as much of a mystery to me as it is to the usual clientele.

Verdict

Character surveying area with binoculars (Crime Simulator)

Crime Simulator has barely broken the fourth wall between the world in its docket and its target demographic, and so, whilst I am able to comment with some level of confidence about a significant portion of the current version’s details, in general, I can’t quite solidify my opinion before witnessing the remainder of the story in the later stages of its ongoing development. With that being said, I can say that, from what I have seen so far, Crime Simulator really isn’t all that different from Thief Simulator, yet another product that falls beneath the developer’s niche umbrella. Granted, it does feature its own series of in-game courses and a nifty co-op mode to boot, but to say that it’s leaps and bounds above its predecessor wouldn’t be technically correct.

There’s a lot of work that needs doing to Crime Simulator before it can truly emerge from its shell and overtake its kin, I’ll say that much. Sure, if talks the talk — but as for whether or not it can walk the walk is still unclear, as it will no doubt continue to be for as long as it takes CookieDev to tighten a few more screws and flesh out the last-remaining technical issues and what have you. However, until that time does arrive, I’d personally steer well clear of the Prologue — at least until several of its primary functions have been addressed and elevated to a new standard. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t a dreadful game by any measure, but to say that it’s perfectly capable of holding a candle against Thief Simulator just wouldn’t be an accurate description for what it is.

Crime Simulator Prologue Review (PC)

In the Shadows of its Kin

Crime Simulator does, in all fairness, make a genuine effort to hold a candle against its predecessor, Thief Simulator 2, though it does sadly fall short when it comes to elevating a lot of its signature elements. Don’t get me wrong, it has promise, but it’s also tough to discard the notion that, you know, it could’ve also just been bundled into a DLC and thrown to a classier alternative.

Jord is acting Team Leader at gaming.net. If he isn't blabbering on in his daily listicles, then he's probably out writing fantasy novels or scraping Game Pass of all its slept on indies.