One does not simply review Charlie’s Angels on the PS2…
To quote The Borg: “reviewance is futile.”
(my old buddy Benny Borg is not very good at English, sorry)
There’s something very special about such a game. It’s that delicious kind of bad you get from a particularly lazy and/or misguided movie-to-game adaptation. It’s awful in basically every way and yet it remains fascinating, like an old Miso soup.
In all fairness, the same could be said about those Charlie’s Angels movies, though the former had Bill Murray-on-Tim Curry sumo wrestling (I’m 85% that happened) and the latter was completely out of its friggin’ mind. In my book, that’s pretty good mindless entertainment.
I will tackle this game properly in a video review at some point I’m sure so consider this less of a review and more of a teaser for just how impressively brain-numbing this game is.
What’s bad about it? In a nutshell?
SO glad you asked.
The plot of the game, to give you an idea, involves a group of monument thieves who go around stealing famous landmarks in the blink of an eye. The game actually opens with the Statue Of Liberty’s mysterious and speedy disappearance.
My money’s on David Copperfield.
Or Herbert Lom in The Pink Panther Strikes Again for those who prefer crazy obscure movie references.
Either way, it’s certainly a challenge for the Angels.
In the opening cutscene, we meet Bosley (Bernie Mac) and the gals as the ever-unseen Charlie explains their mission. Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and Drew Barrymore, believe it or not, do voice their characters and, amazingly, they do so with the appropriate amount of care and excitement.
None at all.
Anyway, let’s meet our Angels.
Charlie’s Naughty Angels?
Unless Lucy Liu’s just feeling Drew Barrymore’s baby bump.
Or the game’s graphics are just completely broken, which they are, and the animation on the characters is all over the place. Incidentally, these cutscenes look way better than the actual gameplay.
Now I don’t know much about Cameron Diaz but I know two things.
1 – What Happens In Vegas was horrible.
2 – Cameron Diaz does not have a bald spot in the front of her head.
The flimsy excuse we get for the Angels wearing bikinis that don’t leave much to the imagination for a good portion of the game is their cover for this mission is a bikini contest. Something which, to be honest, would not be the silliest thing these characters have ever done.
Not even close.
That said, what kind of bikini contest takes place at dusk with no audience and no-one around but bad guys who totally already know you’re a spy because you’re kicking the crap out of them left and right for no apparent reason?
Establishing a cover for your characters should mean some stealth is required: you walk around incognito until you do something stupid and get found out. But not in the topsy-turvy world of this game, oh no, your enemies are everywhere, all the time and there isn’t a moment when you’re not kicking them or attempting some kind of moronic “combo.”
Pushing the same attack button three times is hardly a combo, by the way.
Each character has their own plusses and minuses in terms of attacks and you can switch from one to the other whenever you want except when a fight is going on, which is always.
Cameron Diaz kicks faster and has a nifty butt attack.
*insert hilarious screenshot here*
Drew Barrymore’s punches are more powerful.
And Lucy Liu climbs ladders the slowest.
Seriously, the speed at which these ladies climb ladders is maddening. It’s like waiting for death by looking at a decaying piece of bread for a week.
While the game is absurdly linear, it’s still a good thing those arrows are there to show you the way because the sudden, super-awkward camera angle changes are disorienting to say the least. Otherwise, they’re completely useless seeing as whenever you fight a bunch of people you are promptly surrounded by some invisible forcefield preventing you from proceeding to the next part or going anywhere on that level.
Every level works basically in the same way: you move the Angels along the level one after the other, fight a gazillion people with random names who look exactly the same then push some button where you see a red target symbol.
Rinse and repeat.
You could literally make fun of every single aspect of this game, from its ugly, ridiculous graphics to its music. There’s something really undignified about seeing a badly rendered video game person in a bikini jumping and kicking like a kangaroo, or even simply running.
The music is stock but it’s the sound effects which really stand out as particularly annoying. Diaz’s character emits like a mini disappointed shriek every time she gets hit and, after a while of beating up and getting beaten up by complete strangers, this becomes unbearable.
Even the one actually fun aspect of the game is broken.
Enemies occasionally carry weapons with them from knives to tools, even harpoons and every so often they drop one and you’re able to pick it up then beat them with it. This was a good idea since your main attacks get boring fast but what tends to happen is either someone kicks the weapon out of your hand and you can’t pick it up again or you go back to pick up the weapon only to find that it’s stuck inside that invisible wall I mentioned earlier.
A game like Minority Report had similar problems: a beat ‘em up in which you fight way too many people for no reason when a more strategic adventure would have made more sense, a movie game that doesn’t really “get” the movie it’s based on, characters that don’t look right, bizarre rag doll issues. And yet that game is somehow at least a thousand times better than Charlie’s Angels. Perhaps it’s the fact it has a coherent plot, perhaps it’s the fact it’s based on a really good movie or perhaps it’s the jetpacks.
Gotta love those jetpacks.
Point being, always approach movie-to-game adaptations with caution, especially this one as it’s most definitely one of the worst I’ve personally played. Expect more on Charlie’s Angels from me some time in the future but in the meantime…