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    Citizens Of Earth: A Different Kind Of Vice Squad

    Originally a Kickstarter project that fell significantly short of its target, Citizens Of Earth had a revive spell cast on it by RPG specialist Atlus, ensuring gamers would be able to enjoy this quirky parody of Earth bound after all. Players step into the over-polished shoes of the vice-president of Earth, who wants to investigate the numerous strange incidents cropping up nearby but feels he’s far too important to get his hands dirty. The aim, then, is to recruit fellow townsfolk starting with your own mother and brother and get them to join your cause, fighting on your behalf while you shout encouragement from the sidelines.

    The game’s visual style is certainly refreshing but while its characters and locations look crisp on the HD versions of the game, the move to 3DS results in slightly blurry sprites, especially on the XL. Meanwhile,a complete lack of 3D means anyone who recently upgraded to the New 3DS won’t get to try out its improved stereographic capabilities. More consistent is the brilliant dialogue, which is genuinely funny and had us regularly chuckling with its onslaught of groan worthy puns and its generous helping of top-notch voice acting.

    Part of its humour is down to the wide variety of characters featured, most notably the 40 different citizens who can be recruited Pokémon-style to your squad of three as the game progresses. It’s a testament to the battle system’s design that each feels genuinely different, so having the baker in your team may require a different strategy than if you had the conspiracy theorist in his place.

    Eventually the honeymoon period ends and the game’s charm gives way to a number of notable niggles. The enemies, though well designed, soon become repetitive and although the battles are nippy affairs with mercifully brief transition animations it can still become tiresome wading through areas populated with identikit foes.

    The lack of a proper map system also becomes irritating. Although the bottom screen provides a general overview of your current area, it’s far too lacking in detail to be of any real use and the player will often find themselves wandering around trying to solve vague mission clues like “demonstrate your strength as an elected official”.

    Technical issues make an unwelcome appearance; the occasional juddery frame-rate is forgivable but we had the game outright crash on us on at least four separate occasions during our playthrough. For some, Citizens Of Earth will be worth playing through on the strength of its humour alone, but the myriad of technical and design flaws that make the experience more frustrating than it needs to be are certainly no joke.

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