A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this game is truly for adults only -- and even then it's not much fun to play. The star rating given this game is based on quality of gameplay within this genre and not an endorsement of the violence in the game.
What's it about?
Based on an arcade classic from the late-'80s of the same name, the new version of NARC is nothing like its predecessor. Two big-city narcotics agents travel from the United States to China to stop the spread of a new street drug called Liquid Soul, negotiating their way through street pushers, prostitutes, and petty thugs. As the cops shoot their way through metropolitan locations in both countries, they struggle to stop the K.R.A.K. organization from spreading its new drug.
Players must decide when it's okay to cross lines of police decorum and the law. Behavioral slips could lead to a loss of \"reputation points\" and the officers could be pulled off the case or kicked off the force. Both detectives are asked to take bribes and use drugs: Players can choose the righteous path, but some drugs actually improve performance. Players can become addicted and go through withdrawal; players unable to get through withdrawal black out, losing all weapons or collected evidence.
Is it any good?
Midway's NARC takes the shooter genre to a sad new low, introducing corrupt cops as the heroes and making drug use an essential part of their success. It has entertaining moments: The gun battles, though sad knockoffs of gunfights in past cop genre games, can get your blood pumping. The other plus is the soundtrack. Using classic crime movie themes like Curtis Mayfield's "Freddy's Dead" and "Pusherman," along with newer drug-based songs by Cypress Hill and DMX, the music is first-rate.
But not only is the game filled with unhealthy messages, it's pretty boring. The graphics are surprisingly average, with parts of the game too dark to see well, and players will be disappointed they can't explore more of the world here. The storyline is predictable, and gameplay seems like a bad Grand Theft Auto knockoff. The original version of the game is available here, but you have to unlock it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the controversy around this game and violent, gritty games in general. NARC has been banned in Australia; what do you think of that decision? Is that an infringement on free speech? Why or why not? The game makers defend the game saying that players have choices when faced with temptation. Do you think that's a fair argument? Games like GTA and NARC upset a lot of people; when would you say that the line has been crossed?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.