Crime Fighter is an older game, but that doesn't make it a bad game. In fact, it is a great game considering that it was developed by a single person, Peter Steffen. Even better is the fact that this game is totally free to download and play in two flavors: DOS and DirectX. Although I have played both versions, the DirectX version seems to run better in Windows and features numerous improvements, including better graphics. Although both versions are basically the same, this review will cover only the DirectX version.
Immediately after you start the game, you are greeted with an options screen. You are allowed to select either the English or German language and keyboard or mouse control. After making your selection, the game starts and shows an intro screen with some artwork and a small narrative. Immediately after this, you will be asked to choose how many players (yes this game is multiplayer capable!) and how many points you want to go to. The point system is based on the amount of money you make, how many people are in your gang, and other factors.
Once this has been shown, a screen will pop up asking you to pick a name and avatar, then roll for your stats. The stats consist of strength, brutality, endurance, and intelligence. The maximum level for all of these stats is 100 and will affect your ability to fight and do other things effectively. You will also be given a random amount of money, which is a very important part of the game. After this, you are taken to the main menu screen. Since this game is turn-based, you will be seeing this menu often.
The menu screen has six main options. The overview will give you your statistics, "run through town" allows you to enter town and take a turn playing the game, gang war allows you to declare war on another gang (multiplayer only), next player skips your turn (only really useful in multiplayer mode), options displays the game options, and quit game allows you to quit the game.
Now let's get to the meat and potatoes of the game, the gameplay. After you click "run through town" you will be shown an overhead view of the town with a symbol representing your character in the street. You can move around in the streets using either the mouse or keyboard. You are surrounded by buildings, which serve various functions. You can only move a certain amount of spaces per turn, which is determined by your endurance and level. You initially start out at the lowest level with the least amount of respect, but your level will increase as you successfully commit more crimes.
Basically there are several main categories of criminal activities in this game: Theft, armed robbery, murder, blackmail, bribery, and kidnapping. You can commit thievery at many locations by searching handbags at the railway station, sneaking electronics out of department stores, or even stealing cars from the dealerships. You can also try to rob a bank, although you will often be met with force. Murder doesn't really accomplish anything, but it may become necessary to elude capture or successfully rob someone. Blackmail is accomplished by buying dirty information on someone in town and then paying them a visit, but you might be laughed out of the building if you aren't successful. Bribery can be done at the local police station to get the cops off of your tail and lastly, kidnapping of children allows you to collect ransom or sell them to pubs as workers.
This large variety of crimes gives the game a lot more depth than the typical crime game and makes the game more fun. It also allows you to focus on doing what you are the best at, which is determined both by your reaction time and your character's skills. To hone your skills, you can also visit a weapons dealer and get trained, but not without some cost. You can also buy better weapons at the weapons dealers, ranging from a simple club to devastating hand grenades. Lastly, you can increase your chance of success by hiring more gangsters at pubs. It is pretty hard to go up against ten guards when robbing, but if you have eight gangsters on your side with machine guns, the tables are turned.
Fighting, like the game itself, is turn based. You can choose to either move your character or attack with a limited number of action points per turn. If you have a close range weapon such as a knife you will have to get right next to someone in order to attack them. However, if you have a long range weapon like a rifle you can fire from a safe distance. If you lose a fight with anyone other than the police, you will then have to fight the police and spend some time in jail if you lose against them. If you manage to defeat the police, you will be free to escape and leave the area.
The multiplayer support in this game accommodates up to four different players. Multiplayer is only possible in hotseat mode, where all of the players are using the same computer in turn. A multiplayer game plays just like a single player game except the game switches players after each turn.
In summary, this game is a lot of fun, despite the 2D graphics and older playing style. The fact is, this game can be very addicting and enjoyable if you can look past the aesthetics. This game is very well written and has no stability issues, which is impressive considering that there is only one developer. I highly recommend that you at least give this game a try by visiting Peter Steffen's Homepage and downloading it.