Maximum Chase Preview
We take a look at Microsoft and Genki's unique Xbox-exclusive driving action game.
Just over two years ago, Genki, the development house behind such driving action games as Tokyo Xtreme Racer and the upcoming The Fast and the Furious, announced an Xbox-exclusive title called Maximum Chase. Since the announcement, little has been shown of the game save for a few appearances at the Tokyo Game Show. Maximum Chase puts you in the role of a Los Angeles police officer named Rick Summer, who is thrust into a plot--which could have easily come out of a Jerry Bruckheimer production--that involves the threat of nuclear attack against the city by a narcotics kingpin, and a mysterious woman who is being chased by an armada of anonymous bad guys. As Rick, you'll have to eliminate the criminal threat by driving and shooting your way through the streets of LA. The release date for Maximum Chase is fast approaching, so we recently took the opportunity to play through a near-complete build of the game, and though it is not without its hitches, we like what we've seen thus far.
Maximum Chase gives you two options for gameplay: driving and shooting. Missions are split up equally between the two, with 20 levels available during the game. When driving, you'll control your car by pressing the right trigger button to accelerate and the A button to use the hand brake. Every mission has a specific car assigned to it, and there are many types of cars available, including Rick's Chevy Camaro, as well as the new Nissan Z, a Corvette, and a Lexus SC 340. Driving missions are pretty intense; you'll constantly be hammered by enemy cars trying to run you off the road and police cars trying to intervene. Though none of the levels are particularly large, you'll have multiple paths to choose from when trying to get to your intended destination, and you'll find a bevy of obstacles--destructible and otherwise--spread throughout.
The game's shooting missions work similarly to those in a light-gun game, though you'll be able to control the action using the Xbox controller. You'll basically be hanging out the window of your car shooting at enemy cars. You will be able to shoot out the tires of the cars or simply blow them up by repeatedly firing at them. You'll also encounter boss vehicles, such as a large bulldozer that will frequently ram into you, and a large, tanklike vehicle with multiple guns, which you must destroy. Like in the driving missions, frequent, and often flammable, obstacles will present themselves, and you will have to shoot them out of your way. Otherwise, your car will take significant damage.
At the end of every mission, you'll have the opportunity to watch a cinematic replay of your chase sequence. These replays are actually very cool, and they let you catch some very impressive camera angles for the more exciting portions of your chase. Replays are also interspersed with talking heads that appear at the bottom of the screen, providing you with updates to the game's plot through their dialogue. In addition to simply trying to make your chase look cool, performing more crazy stunts and generally performing well during a chase will earn you a grade at the end of the mission. Better performance will presumably allow you to unlock hidden cars and weapons.
In the build we played, Maximum Chase was still a bit rough around the edges graphically, but it's not a bad-looking game by any means. The in-game action is fast paced, and, for the most part, the frame rate does a solid job of holding up, though some of the more intense explosions did cause some notable drops. The car models are very nice looking, and each car is able to display lots of realistic-looking real-time damage. The game will also feature a host of cutscenes in between missions. What's unique about the cutscenes is that they all feature real-life actors, rather than rendered CG models. However, at the same time, the color schemes and art design used for the scenes cause the environments and textures to look bizarrely--though also seemingly intentionally--fake, making for a very peculiar overall look.
The game's audio is also coming together well. You'll take note of some great sound effects while driving. Crashes sound great, tires screech realistically, and explosions are appropriately impressive. The game's music is highly reminiscent of the style of orchestral score found in the movie Speed, and it adds a great sense of urgency and excitement to the action. There isn't much dialogue while playing, though plenty presents itself during cutscenes. The game's style of dialogue is as bizarre as the art design. It's incredibly cheesy but, again, almost seemingly so by design.
All in all, Maximum Chase is shaping up nicely. The concept of the game itself is very cool, and the action is fast paced and well designed. The campy nature of the plot and dialogue could be somewhat of a turnoff if you don't have any sort of appreciation for that style of cinema, and Genki still does have some work ahead in terms of polishing up the frame rate. However, there's plenty of potential to be found in Maximum Chase, and we're very curious to see how the final product comes together. Maximum Chase is due for release this fall. Expect a full review of the game soon.
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