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OK, so the decision to avoid focusing on one game type, embracing various genres and activities makes sense – I don’t like to think how dull and unrepresentative of the series 24: The FPS or 24: The Interactive Adventure might have been. I also like the fact that the game takes time to focus on different characters, including the unflappable Tony, the earnest Michelle and the disaster-prone Kim. That’s something that the series has always done as well. However, it has to be said that the result is a game of many, many parts, not all of which gel as they should.
The mainstay is third-person action, with Jack or one of the others exploring hostile territory, packing heat and taking the terrorists down. It works a bit like last year’s unfortunate Bond adventure, From Russia With Love, with an auto-targetting system that enables you to nudge the aim for precision shooting, plus a neat cover feature that has you ducking behind walls or boxes, then popping out to take the shot. The levels are a little sparse, the AI is weak and the design is unimaginative, yet these bits are surprisingly enjoyable. The sad thing is that they’re probably the best bits of the game.
The worst bits? Well, there’s quite a lot of competition there. The stealth sections are mildly appalling, with Jack or Kim having to roam around, crawl through ducts, avoid guards and electronic sensors, while achieving various objectives. It’s dull, frequently frustrating and often plain ridiculous stuff. However, while woeful, they’re not quite as disastrous as the driving sections, where you have to find a particular spot on the map, often within a time limit, and with either gun-toting goons or the authorities – though in Los Angeles, there’s not too much distinction – on your tail. If anything, the AI has been tuned too aggressively, making it impossible to make progress while four cars slam into you on all sides. The overall effect combines the misery of urban navigation with the stress of continual harassment – something you’re probably already familiar with if you’ve ever been on a driving holiday with your partner. However, 24 takes it to a new level. At one point, I realised that the only way to end a particular sequence was to ensure all the pursuing police and FBI cars exploded. Now, I know Jack plays hard and fast, but I think even he stops at such wilful carnage.