Genre: Stunt Racing
Publisher: Bam! Ent.
Release Date: 24-Sep-2002
I believe that many people are aware of the Playstation2 title, Stuntman. In that game, you act as a stuntman and perform various stunts using cars and other vehicles under the rule of a strict director. Reviewers of the game had mixed opinions. Some liked it for it's feel of actually being a stuntman, even though the game was very difficult. Others felt it was too straightforward and found the missions too demanding. You either loved it or hated it.
Chase follows the same premise of being a stuntman - or stuntwoman, rather - and acting out various scenes. Where it changes is that there is only one actual objective you must follow to complete the mission, oftentimes not that difficult. However, there are a host of optional objectives that can be completed in addition to the main one in order to earn points and move on throughout the game.
For instance, one mission has you driving a car out of a base of some sort and catching up with a plane that's taking off. You have to get going, take a slick jump over a broken bridge, and hurry up and get to the plane. But along the way, you'll have other things to do. In each stage there are many markers set up in certain locations, and collecting them all will score you some nice points. You can get points for powersliding, riding on two wheels, performing wheelies, barrel rolls, and flips in the air. In that stage, there are exploding barrels spread around it, and hitting thirty will net you a good amount of points. There are other things like that in other stages, like knocking over a certain number of telephone poles. There's also a trophy hidden in each stage that will unlock other modes and such.
While the way the objectives are implemented is a fairly good idea, it doesn't always work out great. You have to beat the main objective in addition to the minor ones in order to gain points from completing them, and this is really hard in some missions. In others, it's much too easy. The game can't seem to hold a steady difficulty level. And even though the minor objectives are optional, it takes so many points to open up new levels that you'll end up having to complete 90% of them. It's often a matter of trial-and-error, as it's pretty much impossible to complete all the objectives in a single run. Playing the same level over and over again becomes tedious and not very fun, and you never want to go back to past levels because you're sick of them.
The game's other glaring flaw is it's length, or lack thereof. There are sixteen missions, or scenes, to complete, and it's all over after that. There's no reason to play the missions over again, unless you want to find the trophy hidden in each stage that unlocks new modes. But these modes are so pitiful that you might say it's a waste of time to even bother with them. One of the three extra challenges you can unlock involves a ramp that moves up and down, two large swinging balls, and a number of buses. You're asked to jump over the buses and avoid the balls. You'll quickly realize that it's only a matter of timing and grow bored with it within the first few runs. After successfully jumping over a number of buses, more are added, the rate of the ramp moving up and down changes, and the speed of the moving balls change, creating simply yet another timing event. How fun.
The multiplayer mode isn't much better. One of the three modes has you driving around a course, attempting to flip your car around and earn points. But after a run or two, it simply isn't any fun. You earn points even if you don't land your car. You earn points if you roll it. It doesn't matter if you land or not, so just go crazy, and as long as you don't get stuck on your back you're fine. It's a bit fun at first, but very mindless and boring after five minutes or so. It's definitely not worth the time, considering how many other great racing games there are available on the Xbox, like Project Gotham Racing, Rallisport Challenge, or Moto GP.
The control is decent, but could be better. Some cars are out of control, like the buggy you'll use in one stage through a desert, but it's okay since it seems like it should control like that. Some, like the race car in the last level, feel just plain wrong. Every vehicle has a Nitro boost that will recharge slowly, adding a good thing to the gameplay. This can be accessed using the A button. Holding the X button and pushing the stick in a direction will put your car into a barrel roll or flip of some sort. The rest is just standard stuff for driving games; with a "look-behind" button, a button that changes the camera view (but you can't actually go first-person, bummer), a button that flips your car back over, and the like. Each car is automatic, for better or worse, so there's no need to have buttons for shifting.
The game starts off with an amazing CG intro sporting wonderfully modeled, scantily-clad Chase Corrada, the star of the game. Unfortunately, the actual game's graphics pale in comparison. They look, for the most part, like a Playstation2 game, and not a great one, at that. Textures are often bland, and a lot of the environments are dull and static. The in-game model of Chase Corrada looks horrid, with a blank look on her face and stiff, unmoving joints. Cars move slowly. People on the street are jumpy and erratic. Nothing is really breathtaking, although the occasional explosion looks pretty nice.
The sound is on about the same level. None of the in-game music is that great, but you can use your custom soundtracks, so it's not a problem. The sound of engines isn't wonderful, but it gets the job done. The strange voice acting will be heard when your Japanese director starts yelling at you, or when your apparent rival beats you in a race. Yes, there's apparently a plot - though more of a backstory, really - and it involves your rival, your father, and that director. It seems that Chase's father was badly injured doing a stunt with the same man up against you, and soon after, he opened up a school that taught aspiring stuntman how to get the job done. Chase followed in her father's footsteps and aspires to be the greatest stuntwoman around... it's a little corny, I know, but the story never actually advances or changes throughout the game.
All in all, the game's okay. Some of the missions are pretty fun, but others are repetitive and boring. The multiplayer mode isn't great, nor is anything else that can be unlocked. The graphics and sound are only decent, nothing fantastic. It's actually a pretty mediocre game, but if you find yourself itching for a new driving game, a rental wouldn't be a bad idea. Don't spend your money on it, please, as it's only going to last you a few days; in other words, a perfect reason to head out to Blockbuster. Now rev up those engines and hit the road, all you aspiring stuntmen out there. I mean women.