Maximum Chase


posted 12/5/2003 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: Xbox
When I saw the words “Licensed by Microsoft 2002” sprawled across the bottom of the title screen (which is actually just a black screen with text) I immediately knew what to expect from Maximum Chase. What’s more, you know a game has massive problems when it takes you longer to write your review about it than to beat it. Not that Maximum Chase isn’t without its merits, it’s just that it’s so damn shallow and unsatisfying that it can’t be recommended for more than a weekend rental.

There’s something about car chase sequences that makes them compelling. Whether they’re taking place on the big screen or on the streets of Los Angeles, the American audience has a penchant for having its attention glued to the action. Developer Genki and Majesco realized this and opted to capitalize upon the phenomenon by released Maximum Chase for the Xbox. While an excellent throwback to the heyday of the Arcade we found the game’s short length and boring gunplay elements to bring down what could have been an excellent game.

Our trek through the game doesn’t start off so well. The main menu is essentially a black screen with generic looking text on it. After making a selection the screen flickers for awhile before your selection re-appears and you’re taken to the next screen. From there things get a little better, largely in part to game’s cutscenes which deserve a rightful place in the annals of the Pornography Hall of Fame. Maximum Chase features a storyline that puts new meaning to cliché and corny but since I’m a man I kind of dig it. Not for the quality of the script or the thrilling plot twists but mainly because of the cheesy production values. Seriously, the story seems like it was lifted straight out of one of those late night Skinemax flicks where bad acting is spliced with copious amounts of bumping and grinding; except in this scenario it’s gunplay and car chases instead of softcore action.

Tell me if this sounds familiar, a big shot cop is driving along one day when a female gets into his vehicle. Suddenly a horde of goons are on your tail, ramming and shooting you with reckless abandon. At that same time someone’s threatening to blow up the city of LA unless a $100,000 ransom is met by the mayor. There’s a new proprietary bomb named Overflare and a bunch of other conspiracy theories running amok. Oh yea, the cop gets framed for a shooting too. I thought that True Crime: Streets of LA’s story was contrived but this one really takes the cake. Not that that’s bad or anything, it’s actually pretty sweet for action movie lovers like myself.

We get pieces and bits of the story via some of the strangest cutscenes that we’ve ever witnessed. They’re a combination of real-life actors in CGI rendered environments, giving them a really surreal look. Genki should be lauded though as they’ve pulled it off in convincing fashion and at times we wonder if the actors are really human or if they’re CGI rendered. While the acting is seriously over the top (whether this is deliberate we’re not sure) the dialogue really takes the cake. For some strange reason the developers opted to shoot the scenes first with a set of actors and then loop the audio in post production with an entirely different set of actors. This means that lines are dubbed in and it really shows. Lip movements don’t quite sync up with the dialogue and the delivery is just woefully horrible. But it’s this quirk that really makes the cutscenes worth watching because you’re guaranteed to laugh out loud at some time or another.

You’ll be given access to a number of vehicles, which vehicle you’re controlling essentially dictates which level you’re on. Each of the levels is split up into two portions, one where you’re driving and one where you’re shooting, kind of like your usual light gun shooter. Of the two gameplay elements the driving portions are definitely more entertaining as they try to mimic some of the chases from your favorite big screen movies. They’re pretty intense and involve plenty of cinematic moments including near misses, explosions and fancy maneuvering. We can’t identify all of them for certain but we know for sure that one of the end chases closely mimics one from the movie Bad Boys.

It’s a shame that the game has to be brought down by the shoddy light gun sequences. They’re a throwback to those cheesy rail shooter games that used to be all of the rage in the early 90s. Basically you trade roles with the female as you lean out the passenger side window to take out your pursuers. After playing for awhile I was starting to feel like I was playing the cheesy chase scene from the first Lethal Enforcers. They’re not insanely bad but they really disrupt the flow of the game because they’re just rather pointless.
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