Chase: Hollywood Stunt Driver puts you in the role of aspiring daredevil who wants to make it big in Hollywood as a theatrical stunt driver. If the premise sounds familiar, that's because the stunt driving card was just recently played in Infogrames' Stuntman, which was released in June for the PlayStation 2. While similar, the two titles actually have significantly different takes on the stunt-driving profession. Stuntman was notoriously punishing, while Chase is much more forgiving in how it lets you approach each series of stunts. And though the game is enjoyable enough while it lasts, it just doesn't last nearly long enough.
Chase: Hollywood Stunt Driver is an arcade-style driving game that features specific goals for you to accomplish in each of its stages. Each of the game's four levels has four stages, making for a total of 16 different stages. The levels are the different films you're performing stunts for, and each stage is a different scene. Each of the films has a different action-movie theme that puts you in a variety of different environments and vehicles. For instance, some of the levels put you in the driver's seat of old Prohibition-era cars on the set of a gangster film. Another has you driving high-performance sports cars for a film that has a James Bond-like feel.
The objectives in the different levels are fairly universal and include activities such as driving on two wheels for a certain distance, picking up a specific number of icons along the way, powersliding or skidding for a certain distance, barrel-rolling or flipping your vehicle through the air a certain number of times, crashing into a certain number of specific objects within the level, and exceeding a certain speed for a specified duration of time. Exaggerated but still convincing vehicle physics make many of these moves look good. A few levels have unique objectives such as following a fleeing vehicle while a passenger in your vehicle fires a machine gun at it until it explodes. All the levels have a specified time limit. This setup means you typically have to go as fast as you can in order to reach the end of the level while trying to accomplish as many objectives as possible along the way, as you aren't credited with completing the objectives unless you make it to the end. Although, since accomplishing some of the objectives makes it difficult to accomplish others, you'll probably have to make several passes through each level to find a way to complete them all.
The gameplay and control mechanics are solid and offer enough variety to keep the game fresh all the way though. The analog stick controls your vehicle's steering, flipping, and rolling. Flips and rolls are executed by pressing the stunt button while in the air and then pushing the analog stick in the desired direction. The triggers are used to accelerate and brake, and you also have an emergency brake that you can use to powerslide into turns. As you travel through the levels, you'll earn nitro boost that you can burn off at any time to give your vehicle quite a bit of extra speed. The controls are responsive and set up very intuitively, which is nice since the game's fast pace really doesn't leave much room for error. All the vehicles handle quite differently from one another. For instance the dune buggy is extremely fast and makes tight turns, but the older gangster cars are bit slower in both speed and handling. Even the terrain in the game factors into your vehicles' handling capability--when going over dirt or sand, your vehicle will slide a great deal more when turning than on pavement. On rare occasions, you'll find that it's possible to get your vehicle stuck in between objects, which will require you to start the level over.
Graphically, Chase: Hollywood Stunt Driver isn't the most visually stunning Xbox game out there, but it does have a super smooth frame rate that does a great job of giving you a true sense of speed. The vehicle models are fairly well detailed, as are the environments, which range from small arena-type levels to fairly long linear tracks. The levels are filled with a ton of breakable objects that explode into a million pieces when your vehicle cuts through them. The effect for breaking through glass is notably bad, though--the glass breaks up in large triangular chunks. The game's animation for the vehicles, from the swaying when turning sharply to the individual tires bouncing up and down when going over rough terrain, is pretty convincing.
In the audio department, the game's default soundtrack features an opening song by Sum 41 and lots of fairly generic action-game themes. The game does give you the ability to create your own custom soundtrack by using the Xbox's CD-ripping function. There is a bit of voice acting in the game, but what's there is pretty bad. The sound effects are fairly decent and fit the vehicles quite well.
In the end, Chase: Hollywood Stunt Driver is a decent game that is fun to play in parts. The game's physics system strikes a good balance between real-world and fantasy physics, giving you both predictable control and fantastic crashes and jumps. The one major negative is the fact that you can get through the game with about five or six hours of dedicated play if you do well. The game does include three multiplayer modes that allow up to four players to compete in a variety of activities like racing or trying to "outstunt" one another, but the modes are locked at the start and require you to pick up hidden trophies in the game's single-player mode. While Chase: Hollywood Stunt Driver is certainly fun, it's so short you should probably just rent it.