While the multiplayer setup's focus on team games makes it resemble Sony's popular SOCOM series at a glance, you won't find any of that game's tactical elements here. Death comes quickly if you expose yourself to enemy fire for too long. Overall, it's a simple mode that doesn't beat out its competition on any of the three platforms.
25 to Life is available on the PC, the Xbox, and the PlayStation 2, and the experience is roughly the same across all three platforms. The PC offers slightly better control, with its standard mouse-and-keyboard setup, but the Xbox and the PS2 versions control just fine. However, a bug in the PC version caused all of the music to constantly skip, forcing us to disable it. The Xbox and the PS2 versions come with a soundtrack CD, though it is conveniently missing all of the game's best music, while the PC version comes with a Freeze playing card for use with the collectible card game Street Warriors.
Graphically, the game isn't much to look at. The bland environments and generic character animation stick out, and the rag doll-like physics of falling bodies look cheap, especially when dead bodies clip right through solid objects. The sound effects are similarly standard--you've heard gunfire in a video game before, right? The voice acting is passable, though the script's low quality negates any of the game's better voice actors. The soundtrack is a quality mix of hip-hop, both old and new. It's good, which makes the PC version's music bug all the more disappointing. Containing classics from Boogie Down Productions and Public Enemy ("Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos" plays during the prison riot scene, which is a perfect fit, even if your in-game motive doesn't match the song's), it's the high point of the entire package.
While 25 to Life works as intended, the third-person shooting doesn't differentiate itself in any way, making it feel like a sad Max Payne clone--lacking that game's style and acrobatic shot-dodge maneuvers. The multiplayer is functional, yet thoroughly unexciting. Even if you're a fan of the subject matter, you could certainly do better than 25 to Life.