Friday, May 24

Review: American Fugitive [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Way back in the days of the original top-down Grand Theft Auto a new genre was roughly born, one that put an emphasis on a little crime, chaos, and fun along the way. While that series has obviously gone on to much more elaborate lengths and found great success indies have been trying to mine that same sense of naughty fun in recent years, but with mixed success. Not that when you play the original GTA titles it did anything terribly extraordinary, but with it now being so many years later while games have visually stepped things up the gameplay continues to be a bit stuck in the past.

That’s certainly the case with American Fugitive, a game that looks good and does some things well. One thing it offers which goes above and beyond the norm is what I’d consider more of an attempt at a story that makes your “hero” a bit more sympathetic. While he may be on the run from the law, the situation in isn’t of his doing, and that both builds a little more intrigue into things and makes him more than a random thug or hardened criminal. At least in theory you can tell yourself that breaking into people’s houses, stealing cars, and engaging in some shadier activities are a product of the situation he finds himself in. While the story may not be deep I can at least appreciate the attempt.

The other area that plays a bit differently, though you could argue about whether its implementation is as exciting as you’d like, would be breaking into houses. In order to best assure success you’ll want to size the place up, looking through windows and trying to ensure you’re less likely to be caught. Once you break in don’t be surprised if you trigger an alarm, but you’ll then see a countdown until the cops show up so you’ll need to prioritize your time hitting rooms in search of some cash, gear, or an objective. You’ll just essentially choose a room to search in a top-down blueprint of each room so the action isn’t visual but depending on what (or who) you may find there can be some variety where you’ll test your luck a bit at times.

Aside from those aspects most things play out roughly the same as you’d expect from other titles of this kind… though I’d say on the whole it’s a bit more tricky than most. While how well you can control a car will vary by vehicle driving around isn’t a very precise science. What makes this a bit of a pain is that your range of vision isn’t all that great and it’s super-easy to run into cars and other items or people which will tend to immediately piss of the hair-trigger cops in town. Most of the time you’ll be able to lose them but in this more rural setting overall the pursuits don’t tend to have much of an edge to them. Get some distance, switch cars, maybe grab a change of clothes, or perhaps just lose them long enough to forget about you. It lacks in intensity and in general you don’t have the ordinance to make taking on the cops as much chaotic fun as you see elsewhere.

On the whole American Fugitive does a decent job of being a bit different but that doesn’t equate to easy fun either. If you’re determined to destroy everything in sight and chaos it up this definitely won’t work for you, the action is simply more realistic and a bit sedated. Perhaps if your goal isn’t to engage in so much fantasy as have a bit more of a twinge of the reality of trying to be on the run, with the expectation that any small mistake will get the cops on to you, it will make more sense. That said, more realistic doesn’t necessarily equate to more fun so whether this title or another in this genre is a better choice will come down heavily to taste.

Score: 7

  • There’s an attempt to make your character a bit more sympathetic than usual, which is a nice touch
  • The breaking and entering aspect may not be exciting visually but it does a good job of introducing some tension and is simply a bit different than the norm

  • Working against the norm the emphasis in the game isn’t so much about raising hell, so its more subdued nature may make it less exciting to certain crowds
  • Dealing with the hair-trigger police who’ll get into hot pursuit over just about anything, when coupled with the somewhat wonky driving, can make it frustrating at times