True Crime: Streets of LA is an action-adventure video game developed by Luxoflux and published by Activision for the Xbox, PlayStation 2 and GameCube in November 2003 and the first game in the True Crime series. Activision later released versions for Windows in May 2004 and the Mac in November 2004.
One of the first open world action games to be released after Grand Theft Auto III, True Crime: Streets of LA focuses on the other side of the law in the genre of the police procedural. The player controls police officer Nick Kang, and is to set out catching criminals and doing missions for the police force.
True Crime’s gameplay has been called “the GTA III clone where you play a cop,” as the core mechanics are identical – the player wreaks havoc across the city and progresses through the story at their own leisure. However, as the game focuses on the other side of the law, committing similar crimes in True Crime: Streets of LA in comparison to that of Grand Theft Auto will result in lasting consequences, such as negative karma which will need to be amended by enforcing the law.
The player assumes the role of Nick Kang, a young Chinese-American detective and the living bane of every police chief, because of his highly unorthodox and destructive means of catching criminals. When the game begins, Kang returns to Los Angeles after being suspended for going after a suspect and disobeying a direct order from his superiors.
Kang is at a police shooting range practicing his two-fisted technique when the Chief of the E.O.D (Elite Operations Division), Wanda Parks, enters. Parks welcomes Nick back to the fold and asks his assistance in solving a rash of bombings of local businesses in the Chinatown district. Though seemingly unrelated, the pattern of the crimes indicate the work of one or more of the Chinese Triad groups. At first, Nick is uninterested in the case, wanting to focus on his personal matters; Parks subtly coerces him to help out, on one condition — he does things his way. Despite Kang’s reputation, Parks quickly agrees to this.
Parks partners Nick with Rosie Velasquez; when Nick teasingly remarks how she’s a “good girl”, Rosie angrily responds, saying before going straight and becoming a detective, she “ran with more than a few Latino gangs in her time.” Like others in the department, Rosie is uneasy about Nick and his reputation, but for Rosie, it is more personal — if Nick goes wild again, she doesn’t want to get dragged down with him.
Why Nick first refused, and then accepted this case is personal; his father, Henry Wilson, was an exceptional police officer who was involved in a major drug operation in the 1970s; one day, he disappeared and was never found. Soon afterwards, Internal Affairs found a stash of cocaine in his locker, bringing his motives and role in the situation into sharp question. Though heartbroken by his father’s disappearance, Nick refuses to believe this.
Rosie learns of Nick’s backstory, and when his mother died and father disappeared, Nick and his brother Cary had traveled to Hong Kong to grieve. Nick then returned for revenge while solving another case. His methods grew increasingly reckless in his pursuit of justice. Nick went under the surname “Kang” when his father Henry Wilson died, As Nick unravels the thread tying the smaller criminal dealings together throughout the game, he faces Triad thugs, as well as crime lords like Jimmy Fu, Big Chong, the mysterious and legendary Ancient Wu, Rocky (a member of the Russian Mafia) and Han Yu Kim (a general of the Korean People’s Army).
In the game, the plot takes one of three different turns: Bad, Average and Good. Nick’s actions and his Good/Bad cop rating decide the course. Each ending path concludes with a one-on-one brawl.