Recreating cinematic action in a video game can be puzzling as the tools and cunning available to a film’s protagonist can be hard to emulate in a controller, yet in the early 2000s, many home consoles saw various attempts at bringing eighties action and horror properties to the line of consoles, long after the franchises last hit. In 2006, 12 years after the last film, the iconic Detroit detective, Axel Foley, made a 3.D. return to L.A. in Beverly Hills Cop.
You step into the shoes of one Axel Foley, quick-witted, street-smart police detective, and pits you against the schemes of an international smuggling syndicate. The game has you sneaking into chop-shops, and dockyards subduing foes, but also gives his non-martial sneaking and subterfuge skills a workout as the game has the player infiltrating a strip club and leading a frontal result of the palatial palaces of Beverly Hills itself. All to defeat their leader, Sevastian Kayakov.
I say you step into Axel Foley, but due to licensing conflicts, Eddie Murphy does not make a return. Instead, the Foley you control, looks radically different, like a different actor was cast. Though you only see the new Axel in certain cutscenes, so it is hardly noticeable when you are in the fray. The dialogue is written as opposed to being voice-acted, still retaining that iconic wit. The menu boasts a legally distinct, but heavily reminiscent song to the distinctive Harold Faltermeyer theme. While the remainder of the soundtrack feels like it could have also been fashioned from modern pastiches of eighties tracks, a la the incidental music of That 80s Show.
Despite the game’s cover, and the then-recent Starsky and Hutch spin-off game, the gameplay is not confined to the car. More so this is a First-Person Shooter that has you sneaking and gunning down mobsters. Axel Foley’s trademark wit is also incorporated into the mechanics with a mini-game, it is presented as a game of Russian Roulette with green, yellow, and red bullets, you try your luck, and if you hit green, you can bluff past some guards skipping challenging gun battles. The sneaking can be a formidable challenge, especially in the first level, where stealth is not an option, and finding a disguise can be a lifesaver. There are six levels to tackle, on paper that does not seem like much, but the levels are varied in their locations, and they are lengthy so, you will get your fill. There are also no checkpoints, so you must keep your wits about you.
Recreating the magic of a film in a new medium can be tricky, and there is a debate about how easy it should be to emulate film protagonists in videogame adaptations. Beverly Hills Cop manages to recreate the difficulty of foiling dastardly plots in style and provides players with a perplexing proverbial playground to test their skills in. It may have been a couple of years since the franchise heyday, but Beverly Hills Cop is anything but a shakedown.
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