Reservoir Dogs Review
Reservoir Dogs box art
System: Xbox, PS2, PC Review Rating Legend
Dev: Volatile 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Eidos 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Oct 2006 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
Review by Colin 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
Reservoir Dogs was the movie that brought a video store clerk to international prominence. Quentin Tarantino went from renting movies to making movies. Reservoir Dogs, the game, could virtually guarantee him his old job back.
by Colin Thames

Quentin Tarantino wrote and directed this movie about five career criminals that hook up for the first time to pull off the perfect crime – which goes terribly wrong. The focus of this cult classic isn’t so much about action as it is the interaction of the colorful characters. This is definitely the way to go when you don’t have enough money for big budget effects as was the case when this movie was produced. But the characters have been immortalized on celluloid for future generations to enjoy and wince at. Who can forget Steve Buschemi as Mr. Pink or Harvey Keitel as Mr. White, the contract cleaner? Or the soundtrack that brought back Stuck in the Middle With You and Little Green Bag back from the 70s, top-40 graveyard? The game manages to capture the sounds of the seventies, but it fails to elicit the tone of the movie. Tarantino was not involved with the development of the game – which may be lucky for him but not for us.

Reservoir Dogs screenshot

I do admire the attempt of the developers to expand upon the action sequences of the movie, many that were just alluded to in conversation. In this way there is a distinct difference between the movie and the game. The game obviously lends itself to action so it just screams to be taken advantage of. It just doesn’t blindly follow the plot of the movie but elaborates on what happened to each of the main characters after the botched jewelry heist. You will see some of the main scenes from the movie rendered in cutscenes in an attempt to tie things together. The dialog is cut short and underplayed in virtually every instance, to the point that you wouldn’t really know what was going on if you weren’t a fan of the movie. I say fan because I’ve only seen the movie once and there’s just too much information to absorb in one viewing. The game certainly doesn’t clarify matters. To get the most out of this game, one would have to think of this game as an augmentation. But it’s the lack of fun gameplay elements that will keep this game from reaching the same cult status as the movie. There is nothing unique about it as it features linear shooting and driving missions for all of the main characters. It’s redundant and anticlimactic as it fails to bring little understanding to the characters’ backgrounds or present situations, not to mention that the control system is awkward thanks to some sloppy gameplay mechanics.

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At the heart of the game are a variety of missions for each of the characters. These missions are so similar that after a few hours it’s difficult to differentiate them. There are two main gameplay elements, shooting and driving. During each shooting level you will have to get to the end of the level in one piece while outwitting or out-shooting gangs of cops and SWAT teams. You can play each level as a professional, without firing a single shot, or you can just go crazy and shoot at anything that moves. You will be scored on your performance at the end of each level as either a psycho or as a professional. Your overall score will determine the ending at the end of the game. I took the middle-of-the-road approach, as more of a career criminal with a blend of shooting and strategy. I just couldn’t be bothered to replay the game to see any of the other different endings. It just wasn’t enough of an incentive to me considering the redundancy of the gameplay. That redundancy also manifested itself with the environments that saw repeated textures and even entire rural streets.

Reservoir Dogs screenshot

Guns are the weapons of choice and there is a decent assortment of handguns, shotguns, machine guns and even a sniper rifle. For some unknown reason the cops don’t seem to have a sniper rifle in their possession. In order to play as a professional you will have to grab a hostage and order the cops to drop their weapons. Some will respond to your orders to face the wall and drop to their knees while others will need more convincing which comes in the form of beating on your hostage. When you have enough adrenaline in your meter you can unleash a special attack in which you will torture the hostage (although it’s not shown on the screen) or you will knock the hostage out and send him or her to the floor. This leaves you wide open but for some strange reason causes all of the cops in the area to drop their weapons. All the time this is going on you are never in danger of being shot by a sniper. If you do shoot the hostage the cops will pick up their weapons and begin firing – so there is some semblance of sanity and logic here somewhere.

To get labeled as a psycho, you just go around shooting and avoiding cover. The lock-on targeting system isn’t bad but you have to unload a lot of rounds to take out a cop, which doesn’t work to your advantage when they are shooting at you. All you can sustain is a few shots before you give up the ghost. You can attempt to take cover but the controls don’t always allow you to get in the right position. Sometimes you’ll end up hugging the wall instead of hiding behind it, leaving your character open for a lead filling.

Reservoir Dogs screenshot

The pace of the levels is slow. They are rather large and take a long time to navigate. They aren’t open-ended as in Grand Theft Auto so you don’t have that same feeling of freedom. Since so much of the rural area is generic, you don’t feel like exploring it anyway. You just maintain your focus of getting the hell out of it and on to the next mission. Driving is the second main gameplay element but it’s hampered by light feeling vehicles. They are difficult to control around turns and often skid out of control causing more damage than you may have intended. You are gauged on the driving levels the same way that you are on the shooting levels. The more damage that you cause the more “psycho” will be reflected in your score.

Despite the all-star cast of the movie, only one of the actors, Michael Madsen, returned to add his voiceover talent to the game. The rest of the characters are voiced by impersonators which do an admirable job but let’s face it, nobody can nail Buscemi. The dialog is a blend of original and new, which all fits together seamlessly. I couldn’t tell you what’s from the movie and what’s been added so it can’t be that out of place. The cutscenes are great but the in-game graphics are fuzzy, stiff and in some places just downright nasty. Hey, at least the soundtrack rocks. No sound-alikes here.

Reservoir Dogs screenshot

The fact that this game is named after the movie Reservoir Dog is going to be its greatest selling feature. It’s doubtful that this game could stand on its own if it weren’t for the famous name holding it up. The tie-in with the movie makes this average game good but let’s not forget that at the core this is just an average game. If anything it makes me want to see the movie again.

Features:

  • Immerse yourself in one of cinema’s most influential pieces as you relive the Reservoir Dogs experience complete with Tarantino’s trademark style, violence and wit.
  • The plot unfolds in a non-chronological order, switching between different events as you get the chance to play each iconic gangster.
  • Psycho/Professional Rating system: Play styles are monitored and ratings calculated on your moralistic choices.
  • Threat System: Includes hostage taking, manipulation and police opposition: the professional way to contain civilians without resorting to lethal force.
  • Bullet Festival: Manage your character’s adrenaline levels to unleash devastating ‘crowd control’ techniques.
  • High-speed driving action includes chase and escape.
  • Full original soundtrack from the film – the Super Sounds of the Seventies brought alive with “Little Green Bag”, “Stuck in the Middle with You” and more.
  • Features the voice and likeness of Michael Madsen as Mr. Blonde.

    By Colin Thames
    CCC Freelance Writer

    Rating out of 5
    Rating Description

    2.8

    Graphics
    The in-game graphics can't compete with the cutscenes. Lots of fuzzy textures and repeated scenery.

    2.5

    Control
    The control system is awkward. Aiming is not accurate, cars are hard to control and the character doesn't always go where you intend it to go.

    4.0

    Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
    Fantastic soundtrack, and even though the majority of the original actors did not lend their vocal talents the imitators do a good job.

    2.5

    Play Value
    With no extra modes or multi-player components, the only incentive to replay the game is to see the different endings.

    3.3

    Overall Rating - Fair
    Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
  • Preview

    Old dogs can learn new tricks. by Adam Brown

    In a time when movie based games seem to be a dime-a-dozen, it is fairly hard to get excited by yet another game that is based on a movie. That is, of course, unless it is a game based on the cult-classic Quentin Tarantino movie Reservoir Dogs. In perhaps Tarantino’s best film, the story revolves around several criminals with color-coded nicknames such as Mr. Blue and Mr. Blonde. These criminals band together to plan, execute, and hopefully get away with a diamond heist. Although the movie had great storytelling and dialogue, most of the action that is discussed throughout the movie happens off-screen. This is where Reservoir Dogs: The Game steps in to help complete the film.

    Reservoir Dogs screenshot

    Reservoir Dogs: The Game will thankfully not be just another play-through-the-movie game. However, most of the game will consist of playing through the action-filled plot gaps that were left out of the film. Fans of the movie who wonder how Mr. Blonde went psycho during the heist or question where Mr. Pink hid the diamonds will want to play through this game to discover the answers to these and other burning questions raised by the film.

    By completing each mission, players will discover the answers to many of these questions. The game will be a third-person action game with some driving levels also included. Each level in the game will be centered on the actions of one specific criminal at a time. All of these levels will be selectable at the start of the game allowing players to choose in which order they wish to play through the game. This is an interesting feature that should allow fans of specific characters to instantly satisfy their curiosity.

    Reservoir Dogs screenshot

    Reservoir Dogs, while entertaining, may cause some controversy upon its release. It has already been banned in Australia due to the game’s violent content. While the movie it is based on is considered to be violent, players will be able to complete the game without killing anyone. That’s not to say that this would be an easy or even desirable option. This does, however, allow the player to determine how violent they want the game to be. If you run and gun through a level creating unnecessary havoc, the game will give you a psycho rating. However, if you take hostages to negotiate with the police and complete a level without mass murder, the game will rank you as a professional. Both of these options could be satisfying in their own way but fans of the more psychotic path will likely appreciate that each criminal will have their own specific torture move (cutting off an ear as Mr. Blonde). These torture tactics look brutal and should help to expedite the disarming of nearby police officers.

    Reservoir Dogs screenshot

    Fans of Reservoir Dogs will be happy to know that the game’s soundtrack will be the same as the films. Since the music helped set the mood of the film, it should help the game seem more like just an extension of the movie. Unfortunately, not everything from the movie will be in the game. Of all the original cast members from the movie, only Michael Madsen’s (aka Mr. Blonde) voice and likeness will be included in the game. The game’s other characters will look slightly different and have different voice actors. While this is somewhat understandable, it still would have been awesome if they had included the movie’s entire original cast. This complaint aside, Reservoir Dogs should still please fans of the movie who seek answers to some longstanding questions about the films characters.

    Reservoir Dogs screenshot

    Features:

  • Authentic movie soundtrack.
  • Gameplay that fills in unseen action from the movie.
  • All levels are selectable from the beginning of the game.
  • Character-specific torture moves used to negotiate with the police.

    By Adam Brown
    CCC Freelance Writer

  • Screenshots / Images
    Reservoir Dogs screenshot – click to enlarge Reservoir Dogs screenshot – click to enlarge Reservoir Dogs screenshot – click to enlarge Reservoir Dogs screenshot – click to enlarge
    Reservoir Dogs screenshot – click to enlarge Reservoir Dogs screenshot – click to enlarge Reservoir Dogsscreenshot – click to enlarge Reservoir Dogs screenshot – click to enlarge
    Reservoir Dogs screenshot – click to enlarge Reservoir Dogs screenshot – click to enlarge

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