You’re standing somewhere in an open trailer park assessing your environment and waiting for the perfect opportunity to score a ride. Not even blinking, you walk up to the nearest parked car and take it for a spin.

It would have been a great little joy ride except that in doing so, you smash into a couple of roadside barriers, run a few cars off the road and literally cause havoc around the neighborhood. Before long, your trail of destruction has placed you smack in the middle of a police chase.

Welcome to the Jungle

Behind the wheel, you send your car careening around tight corners, skidding and drifting along dirt roads in excess of 100 mph. Despite your best efforts, you can’t shake the cops off your tail. Then you see it..a ramp just ahead of you. You hit metal to the pedal and floor it with everything you got. This ain’t your fathers GTA baby and this ain’t the jungle. Welcome to the world of American Fugitive.

“One humorous little feature is the ability to steal clothes to help disguise yourself. You haven’t truly lived until you’ve committed a class 1 felony wearing a purple and pink summer dress”

There are more levels of anti-social criminal behavior in American Fugitive than in most other games combined. The premise is as simple as it gets: You’re a low-life thug framed for the murder of your father looking to clear your name and dispose of those who tried to do you wrong.

The gameplay is similar to that of the original Grand Theft Auto souped up for the modern times. With a good amount of missions to take, each one gradually becomes bigger and more difficult to partake each time you progress. Missions are a variety of time trials, burglaries, car chases, and the typical ‘go here and drop this off there’ scenarios. One humorous little feature is the ability to steal clothes to help disguise yourself. You haven’t truly lived until you’ve committed a class 1 felony wearing a purple and pink summer dress.

Played from a 3/4 to a top-down perspective, American Fugitive lays out a massive deep south landscape riddled with landmarks bridges, parks, roadways, alleys, and all kinds of interesting stomping grounds for a sociopath to run wild in.

The bread and butter here is the successful carjacking and oftentimes, delivery of an array of vehicles to use. From coupes to pickup trucks, vans to buses, just about anything on wheels will fall prey to your heisting. Weapons such as pistols and rifles add your homicidal capacity and will make quick work of anyone unlucky enough to be near you when you’re about to lose your marbles.

The driving and chase scenes of American Fugitive is perhaps the coolest part of the game. These missions start with getting to point A to point B without getting killed. A small directional arrow helps you navigate around the graphically pleasing small towns and cities. Along with the weather effects, lens flare, and detailed buildings, little extras such as flying debris, smoke from fires add to the fast-paced atmosphere.

Fender Bender

Despite all the positives I’ve mentioned, all is not peachy living a life of crime. First, the framerate would often stutter on a system with an AMD RX Vega 64 card. We also experienced the same type of stuttering on another system with a Nvidia RTX. Surprisingly, we experienced smoother gameplay on an older Geforce 1070 card. Go figure.

Aside from the frame rate issue, the atmosphere itself feels a bit, well, bland. Unlike the thriving and bustling game world of Grand Theft Auto, the environment in American Fugitive doesn’t feel as immersive as it should be. For example, pedestrians walk right by you without a care in the world while a major gunfight is going on or bad guys not even batting an eye when being riddled with bullets at close range. It is almost as if the AI responses aren’t being triggered appropriately to whatever is going on around it.

One way to bring up some excitement, however, is to simply go ape shit crazy and kill as many people as you can; but you would have to deal with the cops, which brings up another sore spot of the game. You see, the cops here are inept and will often pursue you for miles and miles only to give give up the chase if you simply hide behind a bush. If there was a way to stop the thrill of the hunt, this would be it.

Bottom line – if you enjoyed the mindless chaos of the original Grand Theft Auto, American Fugitive will be right up your alley. It has enough depth and excitement to satisfy the inner thug in you even for a short while. And at a reasonable $20 price tag, there’s enough loot here to make it worth trying out. But as the old jailhouse saying goes, “don’t expect a big-time payday from a small-time crook.”