Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / True Crime: Streets of LA

Go To
A 2003 wide-open sandbox game for 6th generation consoles and PC, developed by Luxoflux and published by Activision, where you play as Nick Kang, a Chinese-American cop in L.A., in the vein of irreverent action-comedies such as Beverly Hills Cop. It is noted for several things: Mixing gunplay with martial arts, being really funny, and allowing the plot to progress even if you fail every single mission (though failure does prompt many different branchings and will affect how good an ending you reach).

Also notable for the fact that it pulls yet another sudden Genre Shift during the latter part of the Good ending, where Nick descends underneath the city and starts fighting zombies and dragons, in a homage to Big Trouble in Little China.

It was followed by a sequel, True Crime: New York City, which was not nearly as well-received by critics or fans. A third game, True Crime: Hong Kong, was in production before being cancelled in 2011; though it did eventually see release under publisher Square Enix, it was no longer a True Crime game as Square Enix did not own the license, and so it was released under the title Sleeping Dogs (2012) in August 2012.

Here comes a trope enema!

  • Actor Allusion: James Hong once again plays an immortal sorcerer who moonlights as a Crime Lord.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Nick Kang. If you press the draw weapon button while he's in a level restricted to fist fighting, he will push his hands into his coat as if to draw them, then shake his head and make some comment about how it would be too easy, before going right back to the fisticuffs.
  • Artistic License – Law: You're allowed to stop anyone on the street to frisk them for drugs or illegal weapons and then arrest them if they possess either one, even if you have no reason to suspect them of a crime. The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution exists to prevent policemen from doing this unless they have sufficient evidence.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: It's extremely rare to find criminals who will give up when you flash your badge. Almost all criminals will attack you or run away when confronted. Several offenders of minor crimes will go through extreme amounts to get away from Nick. The worst example would be common muggers stealing cars and taking off to the other side of Los Angeles when confronted. Also, those in street fights will forget about whatever it was they were fighting about and focus their aggressions on you.
  • Attack Hello: Early in the game, Nick enters a building and is attacked out of nowhere by a man in a gi, triggering a fight scene. Once it's over, their conversation reveals that the man is Nick's younger brother and this is their version of a friendly greeting.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Bad and Neutral Endings. The Bad Ending has Nick defeating General Kim, however, Kim plummets to his death and many pieces of the puzzle are still missing. The Neutral Ending has Nick subduing Rocky, however Cary dies in this path, and the secret of what happened to Nick's father dies with Rocky as Rosie shoots him to save Nick. George monologues on how nothing is perfect and encourages the player to try again.
  • Bullet Time: Using precision aiming slows down time and allows you to see bullets in flight.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Nick will sometimes call out the name of his special attacks while executing them.
  • The Cameo: There was a way to play the game as Snoop Dogg, complete with unique voice acting by the Dogg himself, and his likeness.
  • Car Skiing: One of several possible vehicular stunts.
  • Cool Shades: Nick sports these when he wears his undercover outfit.
  • Cowboy Cop: Nick, which is actually why he was recruited for the Elite Operations Division: they want cops who aren't afraid to bend the rules.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Nick snarks at everything.
  • Groin Attack: Nick getting kicked in the balls by a stripper, and later Lola in the Bad Path, though he recovers quickly to fight them.
  • Guns Akimbo: Nick's modus operandi when working with firearms. He can even fire shotguns or assault rifles in each hand and fight on just fine.
  • Hero's Classic Car: Nick has three cars - a brown 1967 Cadillac Coupe DeVille Convertible, a blue and white 1969 Chevrolet Camaro and a red 1996 Dodge Viper.
  • Honor Before Reason: If you try to pull out Nick's guns during a designated fist-fight, Nick will reach for them, but then stop and say something like "Nah, let's do this honorably!", "Must... resist... the dark side!", or "I'd rather just beat the crap out of you."
  • Impersonating an Officer: If you max up the Karma Meter to alert the SWAT or nearly max it to summon the police, the dispatcher will describe you as this trope.
  • Improbable Chopsticks Skill: In an early cutscene, Nick deals with a mafia henchman who is shaking down the owner of the restaurant he's currently eating at by flinging a chopstick at him, apparently with enough force to thoroughly lodge it in his ear. From across the room.
  • Karma Meter: Perform non-lethal takedowns (like shooting a guy in the arm) gets you Good Points while shooting them in the head is Bad.note 
    • Those are just the easiest ways to affect the karma meter. Reckless driving is bad, lethal take-downs are bad, property damage is bad, stealing is bad, and in some cases, causing car accidents is bad (but if you find someone that wasn't wearing their seat-belt after a crash, it's a wash) and while killing a cop is pretty damn bad, shooting that cop (unlike running him over with a vehicle) is reprehensible enough to immediately elevate the Karma Meter (if it isn't high enough by then) and alert the cops. Conversely, stopping random crimes is good, and frisking people without cause and finding something illegal is good (What Fourth Amendment?).
    • In the Nintendo GameCube version, neither points nor the Karma Meter is affected regarding property damage. When driving, no tree, parking meter, or traffic light should stand in your way.
  • Laughing at Your Own Jokes:
    Nick: Got here in the nick of time. Ha! I crack myself up.
  • The Mafiya: They appear to be the Big Bad of the game. The truth is a bit more complicated than that.
  • Multiple Endings: There are about six endings in total. Two for each path you can take (Good Cop, Neutral Cop, and Bad Cop). If Nick dies in any of these paths on the final level, it's a Downer Ending. If you survive in the Bad and Neutral paths, it's only a Bittersweet Ending. The Golden Ending is completing the last mission for the Good path.
  • One-Hit KO: Played with. If you manage to hit a car you're chasing with a PIT maneuver, it will disable the car immediately.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: A possible option for the player is to perform non-lethal takedowns.
  • Or Are You Just Happy to See Me?: Subverted during a scene at the strip club:
    Stripper: Is that a gun in your pants?
    Nick: No, I'm just happy to see you.
  • Orgasmic Combat: Played for Laughs in a Literal-Minded sense. During a couple of the fist-fight levels, Nick will end up fighting women in S+M outfits. If he successfully uses one of his special moves on one of them, she has an Immodest Orgasm as she flies backward.
  • Outside-Genre Foe: The game focuses on a police officer fighting crime, that is until he starts fighting zombies, demons and dragons.
  • Pass the Popcorn: When Nick enters a fistfight with street criminals, nearby pedestrians will sometimes begin crowding around the combatants and cheer them on.
  • Pop the Tires: This is a gameplay mechanic.
  • Precision F-Strike: Demonstrated not by the game but by the protagonist, Nick Kang. For an M-rated game, Nick just says the F-word as much as anyone in a PG-13 movie. He says, "Stay the fuck down!" to a criminal in fighting mode during a sandbox stage among his one-liners. But you can still hear the F-word more frequently in the rest of the game, from the songs in the soundtrack to some of L.A.'s citizens to Snoop Dogg. But also the dialogue in the cutscenes plays out like a PG-13 film as it's devoid of F-words or really strong language.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Averted, Nick starts out with some unspectacular .38s, before you upgrade them for something better. Concluding with a pair of Desert Eagles.
  • Ring of Fire: You fight the true final boss hand-to-hand in a ring of fire in the wreckage of a crashed jet.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: In the average ending Nick's brother Cary is killed, causing him to go on a one-man hunt to finish off Rocky and his conspirators.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Ancient Wu. Rattles off proverbs and cryptic hoohaa like any good old master...then Nick doesn't get them. Which leads to lines like:
    Ancient Wu: Where the metal birds flock near the ocean, you will find revenge...
    Nick Kang: What was that? Ancient Wu?
    Ancient Wu: The sixth edifice, at the landing place of the flying machines...
    Nick Kang: Wait, wait, I'm sorry, I don't quite follow.
    Ancient Wu: Santa Monica Airport, Hangar 6, asshole!
  • Starter Villain: The local Triad serves as this before moving to the Russian Mafiya.
  • Stealth-Based Mission: The least common of the mission types has Nick sneaking very quietly through a short level. You can perform non-lethal takedowns, perform lethal Neck Snaps (for Bad Points), and have an emergency dart gun on hand with only three shots.
  • Sword and Gun: Well, fist and gun, anyway. Nick is able to shoot or beat the crap out of anyone and can switch to either whenever he wants. Most story missions are designated as either shooting or fighting missions, though; the adaptability mostly just comes into play when you're cruising the streets.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Nick and Rosie don't get along with each other. Rosie thinks Nick is a sociopath while Nick prefers to fly solo.
  • Throwaway Guns: Any firearm that Nick picks up will be tossed aside once the ammo runs dry. Averted with his pistols as he still reloads them.
  • Title Drop: In the opening cutscene, George (Nick's father's old partner) opines that it was a true crime that happened to Nick's father.
  • True Final Boss:
    • Interestingly, the true final boss is the same as the Bad Ending boss; the difference is that there, you had no idea what he was really up to or what he was trying to accomplish, whereas he spells it all out for you in the Good Ending. There, you've successfully eliminated all the conspirators that he was also gunning for.
      General Kim: All I had to do was to follow you. Now my mission is nearly complete.
      Nick Kang: Nearly? Is there anyone left?
      General Kim: Just you, Kang.
    • Also, while General Kim is rather easy in the Bad Ending, he's an all-out nightmare in the Good Ending.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: If the player fails a mission and then skips it, sometimes Wanda and Rosie will chew out Nick for screwing up.
  • Wretched Hive: The in-universe Los Angeles. You can stand at an intersection and see five muggings or street fights one after another. George gives us his two cents in the intro movie in that regard.
    George: They call it "The City of Angels". Funny. In my thirty years here, I haven't seen a single one.

Alternative Title(s): True Crime