24: The Game (PS2) Review

As I mentioned at the end of the 24 Season 2 Review, this game carries on and in fact finishes a lot of the open plot threads left at the end of that season, something Season 3 never did, so I thought I’d play through it again as I slowly make my way through the TV show, despite not really liking it back when it came out… Glutton for punishment? Maybe! … Well, actually, definitely. Let’s take a look!

Background:

Jack shooting someone in a warehouse setting? Nah, not very realistic…

24: The Game was released on February 27th 2006 in the US and March 17th that year in PAL territories. Unsurprisingly the game never came out in Japan, which is good for them, frankly.

It was released as Season 5 was warming up on TV, so going back and fitting in a new story between S2 and S3 was an odd choice, but at least it did finally answer some lingering questions…

Gameplay:

Actually out of all the screenshots I could’ve picked, this one makes the driving segments look pretty good…

24: The Game is one of those “jack of all trades, master of none” games, except that not only is it the master of none, it’s pretty awful at all of the trades on show. A lot of the game is a 3rd Person cover shooter, but with really poor hit detection and the enemies being bullet sponges, literally taking 10s of shots to the chest and not reacting at all. I mean, Goldeneye on the N64 had enemy reacting to hits, how is a PS2 game so… poor. Headshots are an instant kill at least, if your aim is good/lucky. Running around and taking cover is … fine, a bit clunky but nothing worse than you got on other PS2 games, to be fair to it.

Then you get some driving segments where the controls are horrendous and all you have to do is either get from point A to point B or ram enemy cars until they explode, or both (surviving getting rammed yourself) There is a pretty large chunk of LA to drive around given it’s just a part of a PS2 game, but it’s very empty… Then you get a sniper rifle segment or two, a timing based mini-game for when you interrogate / torture people and a bunch of really dull puzzle games to represent hacking. If they’d just stuck with 3rd Person shooter and put all their effort into pulling that off well instead of trying all these different things then we might have been onto a winner here… or at least something you don’t mind playing if you want to experience the story.

It’s all framed with 24-style cutscenes (as in boxes on a black screen) and a clock counting down, both of which can happen during gameplay as well which can actually be quite clever, with one of the other boxes showing an enemies position or some such. It’s about the only unique and well done part of the actual gameplay…

Graphics and Sound:

I prefer to calmly coax them into an aggressive break myself. An ARM BREAK! …. What am I going on about…?

Honestly? For a PS2 game the graphics aren’t that bad, the likenesses are at least good, anyway. Sure some of the levels and especially stuff like fire looks a little on the, um, crap side in 2021, but that’s not exactly surprising… The driving sequences do look poor though, even for the time as other games had created cities with less pop-in and more detail before 2006…

Sound is good, the actors from the TV show reprise their roles and although being in a studio reading lines has led to some of them becoming disjointed or bored sounding, most of the time its fine. Background music is not from the show (apart from the main theme) and sounds extremely generic, but doesn’t take away from the action at least.

Story:

At least Kim being rescued by Chase is a little different for her…

At some point after Day 2 Jack discovers and stops a terrorist attempt to release Ricin into the water supply and that leads to the discovery of an assassination attempt against Vice President / acting President Jim Prescott. As Jack and CTU dig deeper into this the case it crosses over with CTU Washington, where their agent Chase Edmunds is undercover with the terrorists. Chase is helped by CTU Washington analyst Chloe O’Brian, making this her first chronological appearance which is a big deal given she’s one of the only characters to actually live to the end of the show. Anyway, turns out the man behind the plot was Peter Madsen, someone who served on undercover ops alongside Jack in the past, and soon he reveals several gas attacks across L.A., though they turn out to be a diversion while he attacks CTU LA with an EMP blast in order to get his hands of certain information. He kills a few hostages and escapes by kidnapping Kim Bauer (Yes… I know…), who had just started as a CTU analyst that day…

As CTU tries to get itself together, including bringing in a new head analyst in Adam Kaufman (played by Zachary Quinto, making his second appearance on this blog this week…) Jack and eventually Chase, who is now in LA and undercover in Madsen’s gang, successfully rescue Kim but fail to stop the terrorists from exploding bombs in key fault lines and causing a large Earthquake to rock the city… Yes, terrorists used an Earthquake as a weapon like a comic book villain… Very weird, and I’m not sure they could’ve pulled that off on TV without it coming across as just plain stupid. As everyone recovers they find out that the man behind Madsen is the same man behind all the events of Season 2: Max, the “man in the in boat” from the end of the Season. Jack kills Madsen but finds out his love interest Kate Warner has been kidnapped by Max due to her father’s shipping company being useful for his next attack on America. Jack arrives on his boat, kills everyone including Max, and saves Kate before Chase arrives and helps Jack to the hospital after he got shot in the chaos…

It’s fine as a reason to go from one mission to the next and introduces a few characters that are settled-in regulars during Season 3. That being said due to being a game the body count is astronomical so you just sort of have to imagine that the actual canon events involve fewer grunts being gunned down…

Thoughts Then:

This is every bit as exciting as it looks.

At the time I was excited for more 24 and to “fill in the gap”, but was disappointed when I rented it out, just spending a weekend playing through a pretty poor game for a not-very-interesting story. I did enjoy how it set up some of the characters from Season 3 but given Season 5 was airing I knew the fate of all of them already and to put it bluntly they were all irrelevant come Season 4, apart from Chloe obviously…

Thoughts Now:

Look at this! The boxes, the yellow clock; this is the kind of screenshot that sold me on the game… *sigh*…

Now? What can I say about a game that felt clunky and dated when it came out roughly 15 years ago? Funnily enough it’s still not fun to play, the controls that weren’t very good but not really noticeable at the time are now extremely noticeable, and the series being over at roughly 9 seasons makes the gap filling and the Season 3 cast debuting feel even more pointless in the long run. I can’t drop it to a 1, it’s not THAT bad, but it despite having the same score I am even less likely to ever want to play it again now…

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