Let’s face it, Grand Theft Auto is an absolute phenomenon, and plenty of companies have tried to replicate its success. Some have succeeded, such as Sleeping Dogs and the early Saint’s Row games, but even today we see the odd GTA clone hit the scene. American Fugitive is one such clone, but does it do enough to break the mold?
American Fugitive‘s visuals are decent. Now this might be due to the overhead camera masking some ugliness, but the game is overall presentable. The lighting is well done, especially during the sunset, illuminating the game in an orange hue, and it nails the kind of southern aesthetic it seems to be going for. Overall, American Fugitive looks nice.
While GTA IV and V have fantastic stories that stay focused, have interesting characters, and plenty of memorable moments, the story in American Fugitive lacks any of that. The basic story has you framed for your dad’s murder, and you escape from prison in an attempt to find his true killer. That’s really it. The stakes of the story kind of get ruined straight away when the story has you escape from prison in a cutscene within the first five minutes of the game, and the rest of the story is just as bad. American Fugitive has you doing odd jobs for friends and other ‘acquaintances’ like any other GTA clone, but the main story takes a backseat until the very end, and none of the characters are interesting enough to carry the story. The way the story’s presented also doesn’t help, with all dialogue scenes simply being two static portraits, and these sequences being a little too long for my liking as well.
As a GTA clone, American Fugitive plays pretty much how you’d expect. You get a wide open city to explore, and in it you hijack vehicles, cause mayhem, and if you can be bothered, do missions for people. Luckily, there are a few neat tricks up American Fugitive‘s sleeve that I can talk about, otherwise this would be a short paragraph. The main mechanic introduced here is that of breaking and entering. If you find a melee weapon, you can use it to break into houses, allowing you to individually search rooms in the house for loot. You have a certain amount of time before the cops catch on, so speed is key. Besides the dodgy interface it uses, it’s an interesting mechanic.
Another thing this game does different is its wanted system, as it applies to individual outfits and vehicles. For example, if you punch someone while wearing a red shirt, the police will search for a guy in a red shirt, and if you crash into someone while driving a black muscle car, the cops will look for a black muscle car. It’s an interesting mechanic that keeps you on your toes, forcing you to steal clothes from back yards to clear your wanted level or quickly diving into another car for a quick getaway.
However, American Fugitive has its fair share of problems. While it has the potential for complete carnage like the GTA games, there are a few poor design problems that ruin it. For one, everyone in this town is a snitch. While in other games, the lowest crime you could commit to get a wanted level was ramming into a police car, here you have to be very careful while driving, as tapping a pedestrian car can cause them to call the cops. I even got a wanted level for knocking over a lamp post. I can’t have fun driving if I get a wanted level every 5 seconds. On top of that, cars have way too little health, often getting set of fire after 3 pistol shots, meaning high-speed pursuits end as quick as they’ve begun.
For the most part, the audio is nothing to go crazy for, as the sound effects are decent, but functional. However, the musical score is fantastic, matching the atmosphere of American Fugitive quite well, and just being downright great. I honestly think that the soundtrack is the best part of this game.
American Fugitive is not a good GTA clone. While it looks okay, has some interesting mechanics, and has the potential for carnage, it has a myriad of problems. The story is crap on all fronts, and the basic gameplay has quite a few problems. Wanted levels are far too easy to get, and cars explode way too easily, preventing any fun from being had. The musical score is the best thing about this game by a mile, which is a shame.