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Lights, Camera, Action Button! is a series exploring film-to-game adaptations in regard to their faithfulness, quality and value long after the original film may have passed into nostalgia. In this edition Jack Ford looks at Minority Report: Everybody Runs.
Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report, released in 2002, explores the themes of free will and determinism, individual perceptions of the world and the implications and ramifications of seeing the future – all things that can easily transfer into a video game.
However unlikely it may seem, there was indeed a game made to tie in with the film Minority Report. Released for PS2, Xbox and Gamecube in November 2002, the game Minority Report: Everybody Runs – to give it its full title – is a Duke Nukem-style actioner that focuses more on the film’s more high-octane elements. (Of which there admittedly are many, being a studio production.) Beginning the game it’s hard to miss that, on a visual level, it is a bit out of step with the film it’s based on. It is without the Spielberg-created visual style and the digital recreation of the lead character, John Anderton, looks less like Tom Cruise and more like Vanilla Ice. The differences are not unique to the style, either.
The film begins with police chief Anderton rushing to the home of Howard Marks before he can murder his wife. The game begins with Anderton crashing the offices of Andre Serena. Whereas the opening of the film sets up its world and the concept of Precrime – where psychic beings known as ‘Precogs’ are able to see crimes before they happen – the opening of the game sets up its controls and is heavier on bombast.
Plot developments in the game then continue more faithfully: Anderton is implicated in a future murder, but before he is apprehended, he fights his way to freedom – part of the way on a jetpack. It differs in that, while the film keeps the reasons for this under wraps for much of the way, the game gives up that ghost early on.
The plot against game Anderton is very different to the one that Tom Cruise found himself embroiled in: he is being set up by a businessman with criminal side-dealings and looking to avoid conviction by getting rid of the chief of police. It’s a more action-centered narrative but essentially works in context, particularly when the game reaches its conclusion.
In order to uncover the truth, Anderton seeks help from an old informant at an establishment called the Dreamweaver Theatre. Both are ported over from the film, but here there’s the added obstacle of Anderton being unable to get the information he needs until he breaks up a nearby group of loitering mallrats. Here begins a pattern that continues for much of the way through the remainder of the game – beginning a new level, being given a mission objective and having to fight and defeat a lot of people to reach it.
There are recreations of familiar Minority Report locations and events – Iris Hineman’s greenhouse, the spider invasion of the Pepper Hotel – as well as new ones, mainly the sewers of all the locations. Each and every one, though, at some point has Anderton fighting off thugs or cops who have discovered his whereabouts.
Anderton eventually learns the only way to prove his innocence is to break into Precrime HQ, steal Agatha the Precog and bring her to the Dreamweaver Theatre to read her thoughts. This, of course, involves a lot of fights both on the way in and on the way out. Agatha, quite a major character in the film, is left by the wayside once she is of no further use to game Anderton or the plot. Instead of uncovering the film’s subplot of a mysterious woman called Anne Lively – or following any more of the film’s storyline – here Anderton gets a hint about the shady Soul company and is directed to the man who can provide him with the final piece of the puzzle.
He heads to a subway station where he has to fight his cocky Precrime colleague and game-exclusive character, Agent Mosely. Once Mosely has been dispatched, Anderton then has to get one last piece of information on his enemy from a disgruntled ex-employee, now working at a Fortune Cookie factory. In the final stages of play, after beating up every employee, guard and android the villain can summon, Anderton and his nemesis (and the nemesis’ personal assassin) finally come face to face. Afterwards the proceedings come to an end in a way that matches the conclusion of the film.
It can’t be ignored that the game of Minority Report deviates from both the central plot elements of the film, as well as following much of the same narrative. That said, the plot of the game does work, having stripped away the deeper meaning of the story in order to focus on action elements. The biggest faults with Minority Report: Everybody Runs, though, lie elsewhere. For one, the game was released in 2002 but looks far older than that. The graphics are hideous, the animation is clunky and there is not much atmosphere in the game worlds.
If the visuals are rough, gameplay is even worse. Anderton’s controls are all over the place, not helped by also being too sensitive. In particular this can make combat particularly troublesome and frustrating in sections with too many enemies to fight at once. That isn’t helped with fight set pieces starting every few minutes.
It’s hard to know if a video game of Minority Report had any potential, but if there is than the final product we got does not make anything of that potential. It is rushed and sloppy and plays like something from a system much older than the PlayStation 2.
Everybody Runs is like one of its Precogs in reverse: it’s nothing as you remember it and seems more like you are looking into the past than the future.