Emergency Mayhem Hands-On

We go for a wild ride with fire, police, and medical response vehicles to save Crisis City from chaos.

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Though Emergency Mayhem was originally unveiled at the Electronic Entertainment Expo nearly four years ago for the PlayStation 2 and the original Xbox, its future was cast in doubt when original developer Acclaim filed for bankruptcy. But just as Made Man and Juiced eventually saw the light of day with some outside help, Emergency Mayhem has been resurrected for the Wii thanks to Codemasters and Warner Bros.

In Crisis City, all hell has broken loose: Phone booths have been wired with explosives, monkeys are on the loose, long-haired hippies have swallowed nails, dogs and cats are living together, and even more craziness. As a member of one of the emergency agencies--fire, medical, or police--it's up to you to restore as much order as you can as fast as possible in a free-form, minigame-filled romp that feels very much like Crazy Taxi meets WarioWare.

You'd better get going; you've got a city to save.
You'd better get going; you've got a city to save.

After selecting from one of the emergency agencies in career mode, you're dropped off in one of the four precincts of Crisis City with the goal of reducing the mayhem in the streets. You've got an open world to explore in any way you choose, but make sure not to dillydally about too much, because your time is limited. Once you start, a countdown clock begins to run, and the only way to keep the game going is to find and complete missions with the help of a revolving arrow that appears at the top of the screen when a mission is nearby.

Once you find a mission, which appears as a colored cone of light, you need simply park inside it to begin. Missions come in a variety of types, and each is customized to your agency. For example, simple "drive from point A to point B"-type missions may be for patient deliveries when you're in an ambulance, but once you're behind the wheel of a police cruiser you may find yourself delivering donuts to your famished fellow officers. Sometimes these missions are timed, and other times you may be delivering sensitive materials, which will force you to pay extra attention so as not to hit anything--it all depends on the circumstances behind each of your requests, which are delivered by the cheerful-yet-snarky dispatcher through the speakers on your TV or your Wii Remote.

Many of your missions, however, are minigames that depend, again, on your agency. Police recruits, for example, may have to disarm explosives by untangling their wires and snipping them in the correct order, help citizens in need by inflating their punctured car tires, or fight deranged monkeys in the supermarket by shooting them with bananas. Each of these minigames uses the various features of the Wii Remote, from IR pointing to waggling, and each typically lasts around 15 seconds. Other minigames we played included putting out dumpster fires, using a magnet to remove swallowed nails, ramming thieves off the road with a cruiser, and using a trampoline to rescue jumpers from a burning building.

Crisis City's boys in blue had better be up to the task.
Crisis City's boys in blue had better be up to the task.

Each precinct in career mode is a completely self-contained world, but you also have the option of playing a more exploration-driven version throughout all of Crisis City. In this mode, the time limit has been eliminated, and the roadblocks that prevent inter-precinct travel have been removed, so you'll have access to missions all over the gameworld. If you want to jump straight into the minigames, there's also a party mode that gets you right into them. You can play through them alone for your best times, simultaneously with a friend in a head-to-head match, or with up to four players on a single Wii Remote in a fast-paced hotseat game.

Look for Emergency Mayhem to hit the stores next month. For the final word on this bizarre open-world emergency driving game, check back later for our review.

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