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Chase: Hollywood Stunt Driver Review
game: Chase: Hollywood Stunt Driver
three star
posted by: Jeremy Kauffman
publisher: Bam! Entertainment and I-Imagine
date posted: 09:10 AM Fri Oct 25th, 2002
last revision: 06:39 AM Fri Sep 23rd, 2005

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Chase: Hollywood Stunt Driver is a colorful spectacle of a game, an arcade-style romp through the cleverly designed chase scenes we have come to expect from our big-budget summer flicks. A popcorn game about popcorn movies, so to speak. It may not have as much personality as a certain other stunt game recently released on the PS2, but it is highly addictive and fun while it lasts.

The game follows the rising career of stuntwoman Chase Corrada, who, according to the manual, is the \"bravest woman alive. Period\". Pretty bold statement considering that she is sharing shelf space with Lara Croft and Jill Valentine. Chase\'s goal is to do what she loves and do it well. What she loves, apparently, is driving a flaming Tuk-Tuk car through the plate glass windows of an office building, but hey, we all have our thing.

The gameplay is exactly what you expect from an arcade-style game: simple in concept, difficult in execution, and hard as hell to put down. There are sixteen levels in Career Mode-four movie sets, each containing four scenes. Each scene contains various objectives which will earn you respect points when completed. Later scenes require a certain number of points in order to be unlocked. It is unlikely that you will complete all of the objectives in one take, but you can go back to any level at any time and complete those you have missed. So, if you need another 500 points to unlock the next scene, but are not really fond of the challenges you face on the current level, you can go back and complete earlier objectives you may have missed and add to your point total.

The objectives range from fairly straightforward tasks to spectacular stunts. Some of the tasks you will face include completing the level in a certain amount of time (film costs money, after all), collecting movie slates, staying above a specific speed for a certain length of time, and so on. The stunts include jumping vehicles over incredible distances and heights, performing multiple barrel rolls, 360-spins, flips, wheelies, and more. Some tasks and stunts can be done simultaneously. When the game is really cooking, you may jump your motorcycle 25 meters over an insanely deep gorge while doing a double back flip, collecting a movie slate, and coming in for a dramatic finish that ends the scene under time.

In addition to the Career Mode there is a Challenge Mode, a 4-player split screen Multiplayer, and a Replay Theater. In Challenge Mode you can unlock individual challenges such as jumps, stunt combos, and a race. In Multiplayer Mode you and your friends can play a few different kinds of games: Hit and Run (basically tag with cars), Stunt Point Dual, and Stunt Racing. The Replay Theater allows you save your favorite scenes onto the hard drive of your Xbox and watch them to your heart\'s content.

The control set-up is as simple as they come: you steer with the Left Stick or D-pad, accelerate with the Right Trigger, brake with the left. Press the X button, sometimes in conjunction with moving the Left Stick, to perform stunts. Press B to engage the emergency brake, A for a nitro boost, Y to check your rear view, Black to change your view, and White to reset your vehicle.

The graphics are good. They are crisp and vibrant and rendered with some care. They are not, however, what we have come to expect from our Xbox games, especially in terms of special effects. The weather, lighting, and particle effects, explosions, splashes, etc., are almost non-existent, making the environments somewhat lifeless. If you compare this game to Wreckless, a very similar game in style, Chase comes up short.

The sound is capable in terms of effects: the roar of your engine, the explosions, everything sounds good. The movie-specific soundtracks are good as well, but if you don\'t like them Chase allows you to use the soundtracks you have ripped onto the hard drive of your Xbox.

The high points of Chase are that it is fun, easy to pick up, and extremely addictive. The objectives are laid out clearly. They are fun to pull off, fun to watch, and there are enough of them to keep you coming back for the duration of the game. Anyone can learn the controls get the game rockin\' and rollin\' in just a few minutes. And I defy you to put this game down once you have started.

Unfortunately, the game is very short. I cleared out nearly all of the objectives, unlocked all of the other modes, and beat the game in a little over six hours. Many of the challenges are way too easy. You don\'t have to land all of the stunts in order for them to count. A barrel roll, for example, is successful even if you crash and burn on the landing. The game should require a little more finesse than that. And as far as the Challenge and Multiplayer modes are concerned, forget it. To give you an idea, the jump challenge sets up a jump with a few obstacles and you jump it. Challenge over. Yippee. And playing tag with cars? You don\'t really want to do that, and neither do your friends. These do not make for a lot of replay value. Once the Career mode is over, so too is the game, and you can finish it within the space of a rental.

The Replay Theater comes up short as well. First of all, the replays are rendered with in-game graphics rather than taking it to the next level as do those of racing games like GT3. Also, they are not presented the way a movie would be. That is the point, right-to see what you have done in the context of the finished movie? Instead, the camera angles are more or less random and often obscure the stunts rather than glorify them. This is just disappointing.

In terms of the competition, Chase is good but it doesn\'t quite have the moxy of Stuntman on the PS2. The stunts and replays in Chase seem generic by comparison. The movie concepts and sets are not as dynamic or engaging. Even the titles are lacking. Consider Stuntman\'s 007 homage called \"Live Twice For Tomorrow\" compared to Chase\'s \"The Spy Who Chased Me.\" One is creative and captures the true flavor of the genre while the other is a spoof of a title that has already been spoofed to death. Sure this is nitpicking, but it epitomizes the game as a whole.

An interesting side note to Chase: Hollywood Stunt Driver is that it is the first game created using the Xbox Incubator Program. The Incubator Program is available to independent programmers who want to commit their own resources to developing an Xbox game before securing a major publisher. Publishers are provided access to an Xbox Development Kit and technical support. It is also the first console game developed in South Africa. I-Imagine should be applauded for bringing a fun and flamboyant stunt game to the Xbox. Chase: Hollywood Stunt Driver kept me absolutely obsessed for a couple of days. It is a good ride while it lasts, and certainly worth checking out.