Calling All Cars! Updated Hands-On

Bring 'em in, lads! We check out this madcap cops-and-robbers racer from the creator of God of War.

Calling All Cars! might not be the kind of game you were expecting from Sony game designer David Jaffe--the man behind God of War and Twisted Metal: Black. The cel-shaded racing/action game is big on loony Saturday-morning-cartoon antics and short on blood and gore. That said, it still shares a key component from Jaffe's earlier efforts: It's fun. We had a chance to check out the full version of the game, which will be available for download in May via the PlayStation 3's online service, to see how far the game has come since our last look at the 2007 Game Developers Conference.

Remember the old school-yard game, "Kill the Man With the Ball"? That's the easiest way to explain how the gameplay in Calling All Cars! works; except, in this case, the players come in the form of a variety of vehicles--everything from F1 cars to luxury rides to monster trucks--and the "ball" is an escaped con on the run from the local law authorities. Your job is to catch the elusive criminal by running him down, catching him with your car, and delivering him to the authorities. Bringing in your fugitive will earn you points, depending on where you drop him off, and the player with the most points at the end of the round wins.

See the bad guy, catch the bad guy. Calling All Cars is a fast-paced cops-and-robbers game for the PlayStation 3.

The pace of Calling All Cars! is frenetic to the say the least. You're constantly battling your three opponents to keep control of your criminal and bring him to justice, while your foes are bashing into you (which often causes the criminal to bounce out of your car and into the air). There are also a number of weapons you can collect in the environments and use with the R1 button. These weapons include a giant rocket launcher that can be fired at any opponent; a magnet that, when aimed at an opposing car for a few seconds, will let you draw the criminal into your car; and a big, wooden hammer that will shake things up (and dislodge the criminal from any car in the surrounding area). You can also use a periodic nitro boost that will give you a quick burst of speed when you really need it.

Calling All Cars!' main challenge, it seems, is dealing with the interesting twists the different environments give you when bringing in your escaped convict. In the city level, for example, you have three increasingly difficult ways to score points at the police station: drive him into an open garage (worth one point), make a jump onto an open door on the second floor (two points), or drive up a ramp and deposit him on the top floor of the police station (three points). In the snowy Alpine level, the police station entrances periodically freeze over, which then requires you to seek out the ever-moving paddy wagon and deposit your convict in the back. There's even a police helicopter that shows up occasionally; drive beneath it long enough, and it will scoop up the criminal and land you four points to boot. With as much mayhem as CAC throws at you, the two- or three-point options are rarely easy to get, and the game becomes as much a matter of blind luck as it is biding your time and waiting for the right time to strike.

The game's cel-shaded environments are fun to look at, and there's plenty of Twisted Metal-esque destruction on hand, as the cars whip around the levels, crashing through buildings, busting through graveyard markers, and basically destroying everything in site. Well, almost everything. Some objects in the world are impervious to harm, which can be either a blessing or a curse. In the train-yard level, for example, the train engine can't be harmed (though you can drive through the box cars), which can be a pain if you're making a beeline to the police station. On the other hand, putting a train between you and your opponents can give you some much-needed breathing room to collect a weapon, find your on-the-lam convict, or try a riskier delivery option for some crucial extra points.

Things tend to pile up at the end of the game.

The game's wacky soundtrack fits well with the cartoon visuals. Honks, squeaks, crashes, and sirens abound, and the banjo-flavored music in the background adds an extra layer of momentum to the driving antics. There's even a jolly lieutenant--complete with Irish accent, naturally--who's keeping tabs on the clock for you, letting you know when you're running out of time on the course.

The game's single-player modes include single-level play and a tournament mode, where you run through a series of levels in a row. There's also offline (split screen) and online multiplayer for up to four players as well. In all, Calling All Cars! seems like an enjoyable party game that's best enjoyed in small, frantic doses. We'll have a full review of the game once it's released for download in May.

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Discussion

90 comments
Myskyline
Myskyline

Once Its David Jaffe behind the scenes I bet it will be a blast..with the likes of twisted metal 2 and black and god of war 1 and 2....the pedigree is there.

DoctorFu
DoctorFu

Yeah, Twisted Metal anyone?

lord-of-gamers
lord-of-gamers

billulsund u know that the 3rd of may is just next week - keep calm friend we will all play soon enough :P

billulsund
billulsund

I am bummed, I just read on IGN that they are not releasing this game today as planned and instead it will be pushed back to May 3rd to work out some bugs. I was really hoping to get to play this game today. We really need more games like this on the PSN instead of a bunch of Demos and trailers.

jdknight21
jdknight21

ChaosXeno: It isn't even on gamerankings.com yet and the only sizeable source I've seen is IGN: 8.5, 23 users say 7.8. A quote from the review: "Calling All Cars is Sony's first truly original, must-have title on the PlayStation Network, and it bests just about everything there is to be found on Microsoft's online arcade center. " Unfortunately it is IGN and they are known for fluffy reviews. Way to link those reviews though. [url]http://ps3.ign.com/articles/783/783536p1.html[/url]

jdknight21
jdknight21

RE to limitt45: Castlevania:SOTN, Worms, Geometry Wars: RE, Hexic, Alien Hominid HD, dare I say Texas Hold 'Em even IMO. Game looks decent and/or but they'll pass at $10 is what most people have been writing. That isn't really hate.

ChaosXeno
ChaosXeno

Already reviewed and on some websites and they say this game is the funnest original game out of any online network for any of the new consoles. The ratings are pretty good too.

limitt45
limitt45

for all those haters saying this game is trash. tell me what game on the XBLA that looks more fun than this game.cuz i have a 360 and i havent seen any yet.

luis_aek
luis_aek

pathetic.. that's all i have to say

K_A_R
K_A_R

it looks a lot of fun

RaiKageRyu
RaiKageRyu

It's $10, what more do you want.

xatman911
xatman911

Awesome. Hopefully its totally free like GT HD.

greystone227
greystone227

Looks pretty cool. It's nice to have a change in the types of games coming out every once in a while.

samdonni
samdonni

mmmm...... Aint sure about this game yet...

rokkuman09
rokkuman09

Hey mestiozoman your realize most TVs can't display 60fps even? Moniters are so much better than TVs the technology is available faster. Anyway this game looks dreadful for a PS3 game either way, and I'm saying it either will be horrible, or really good.. No in between, don't know why but it just seems like one of those games ya know o_O.

mestizoman
mestizoman

anamnawshad Looks like a Wii game! But it's the GamePlay which is more important. It looks like it'll be a fun game. the wii couldnt hadle this game, it runs 60fps at 1080p

DB53
DB53

Looks like fun. Unfortunately, I can't exactly afford a PS3.

-SlipSkull-
-SlipSkull-

Meh, I'm not really interested in this game.

Slappywhite2001
Slappywhite2001

I am always confused when games that look like this come out for consoles that are capable of intense graphics, but at the same time if it is done well it creates a new and awesome visual experience. here's hoping it does it right!

anamnawshad
anamnawshad

Looks like a Wii game! :P But it's the GamePlay which is more important. It looks like it'll be a fun game.

Beesond
Beesond

Looks cool for a download, I havent tried flow yet, doesnt really peek my interest.

mskittykat
mskittykat

Ooooo...this game looks like fun. I love the look of it and the concept is great...It's too funny, not to mention it's a nice alternative to blood, guts, and glory. (Not that there's anything wrong with that ;) )

bossjimbob
bossjimbob

How many names is this game going to get? Wasn't it first called Criminal Crackdown or something?

buffdaddy69
buffdaddy69

"AngelCage rosssca obviously you can play this on-line right? .-.-.-.-..-.-..-.-.-.-...--.--.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-. Obviously you read the dam article right? . and online multiplayer for up to four players as well. The game looks good and fun for BEING A PSN (ARCADE) GAME! (How many stupid people are in this boards. This is a cheap, small and NOT IN BL-URAY game.)" God damn, all he was doing was asking a question, f*ck...

AngelCage
AngelCage

rosssca obviously you can play this on-line right? .-.-.-.-..-.-..-.-.-.-...--.--.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-. Obviously you read the dam article right? . and online multiplayer for up to four players as well. The game looks good and fun for BEING A PSN (ARCADE) GAME! (How many stupid people are in this boards. This is a cheap, small and NOT IN BL-URAY game.)

rosssca
rosssca

obviously you can play this on-line right?

j2theboogy
j2theboogy

You know the only reason that I would get this is because of David Jaffe! Plus I haven't tried out the Playstation download service yet either so this looks like a good place to start. I'll have to see it reviewed first.

jdknight21
jdknight21

Wonder how long it takes before devs over use and wear out cel-shading. Not particularly this game, but I wish they would calm down with this style in downloadable games and I hope the environments don't look as stale as they do in the screenshots when this game hits PSN.

lordmonroe
lordmonroe

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

lordmonroe
lordmonroe

I know. . . I know . . . I'm an OLD geezer -- but does anyone remember the game "APB" (All Points Bulletin) for the arcade a long time ago? This kinda reminds me of APB. It was pretty fun for its time. . .

blackleech
blackleech

Looks... novel to say at the least.

CapoX
CapoX

heh! looks nice!

olberto
olberto

jaffe should stick to this, he should do that... He can do whatever he wants as far as I am concerned, I would rather he kept making original games than more games for the god of war franchise (not really a big fan of button mash games). This game looks like a laugh but I doubt I will play it as I don't have a PS3, got to wait for the price to come way down on that one...

Crystall3d
Crystall3d

This game is absolutely fun, i remember playing "champioship sprint" (a game made in 1984) for 6 hours with my friend and the fun we got out of it..... Gee.... is not it beautiful when simple things work ?

Silentbob343
Silentbob343

@autobotsx Careful I had a post reported for making a comment along those lines. As far as the game it looks like crazy fun with multple players. As far a Jaffe going back to making epic games, not anytime soon. He's had enough for a while and has said as much in interviews. Go to gametrailers and watch some of them, can't blame the guy; 70hr weeks, not seeing your family, sleeping at the office, it can get old fast.

autobotsx
autobotsx

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

mixhawkeye
mixhawkeye

Looks okay. Not bad, but what a difference from God of War...WHOA

shady_825
shady_825

This looks interesting. I will most likely download it.

teebeenz
teebeenz

PSN is able to distribute compete games and not just smaller or mini games. But in this case it is a smaller game.