Thug Life 2 by Master Raze

Title ScreenTitle Screen

Thug Life 2 is my new favourite Master Raze game, and I think he should really consider it a personal triumph. His only real competition this month was with WiL, for his bizarre STONES, a sequel to his classic The Rose. What we have here is the quintessential Master Raze game, with lewd puns, crude sexist and racist slurs, and a main character whose primary goal in life is the acquisition of money and respect from crime agencies through the perpetration of a series of illicit acts, ranging from drug smuggling to cold-blooded murder. (And I remember Commodore observing that Luke Steel seemed to have no conscience.)

What we're dealing with here, then, is something in the vein of Sim: Life. You are an aspiring young criminal known simply as KC, on a mission to secure fame and fortune as a thug on the streets of R. Sole City. (All the puns are like that, so get used to it.) After an observation of the fecal smell of the area, you begin your road to perdition in the industrial district of the city, with a few simple tasks from neighbourhood crime bosses. Your goal is to accumulate Thug Points, an equivalent of experience, with which you can impress bosses higher and higher on the ladder to undertake missions of (usually) increasing difficulty.

South WharfSouth Wharf BluechapelBluechapel

Your missions range from kindly civilian acts such as giving a Chinese man directions and finding an old man's shopping for him, to more sinister missions involving cold-blooded murder, mugging, theft, protection rackets, overseeing an illegal immigrant operation, and even bombing a house. Some of the missions are compulsory to complete the game; others are side missions that may not even be illegal (!). KC doesn't seem to mind all this, despite his lack of success in impressing any of the disproportionate number of attractive lesbians that seem to populate the recesses of the city. There is almost no indication of any kind of conscience or qualm in his actions (and it is for this that he is commended by the Agency for which he is working).

The playable board graphics are drawn simply and elegantly in a bird's-eye-view perspective, with the colour brown predominating in of the city.

You sunk my battleship.You sunk my
u hit teh >>> grass snipeu hit teh >>>
grass snipe

The game is not at all difficult to complete. Most of the challenge lies in navigating the city and observing and remembering things that will help you get the missions done more quickly or effectively. Perhaps the most challenging feature is that on several missions you will be surprised by hidden, armed gangsters or even cops - and keeping well-stocked on ammunition is your own responsibility.

The final scene in the game is a sniping task, with an engine designed by Commodore; I found this quite difficult, and it took me several attempts to get the shot right. There's also a moderately challenging drac0esque car chase mission, of which prior games of Raze's suggest he is very fond (and does reasonably well). Other than that, all the missions are very straightforward, and aside from a bit of running around and some classic ZZT fighting, the cautious game player should be able to beat it without needing to save (the game can't get into an unwinnable state), except for the sniping scene which is challenging enough.

Thug Life 2: Back with a (Gang) Bang! is a typical Master Raze game, with the trademark toilet/sexual humour and abundant swearwords and lesbians with which we are all so (too?) familiar. But in this context I have to say it really kind of works. Raze doesn't pretend to be something he's not writing-wise, and it lends a kind of honest feel to the game that I guess didn't need a fantastic script anyway. I mean, how much player pathos can there be for a guy who goes around asking women if he can see their breasts, in between obtaining large-scale offensive weapons and beating up gay men?

Good work, Raze, and well done on your second MTP.

8 / 10