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Chase: Hollywood Stunt Driver

Review By:  J. Michael Neal

Developer:   I-Imagine Interactive
Publisher:   BAM!
# of Players:   1-4
Genre:   Driving
ESRB:   Teen
Online:   No
Accessories:   Memory Unit
Date Posted:  

11-27-02

Chase: Hollywood Stunt Driver is a simple game that manages to get everything right. It takes the brilliant concept that Stuntman so brutally wasted and places it in a much more user-friendly package. Yes, Chase may merely seem like I-Imagine Interactiveís easily overlooked answer to Reflectionís failed masterpiece, but itís actually better than Stuntman ever was and should satisfy gamersí need for an easily digestible stunt driving game.

One of the first things that separates Chase from the Stuntman is itís much more forgiving Career Mode. Chaseís single player game unfolds much like Tony Hawkís Pro Skater 3ís Career Mode. Each level has a list of objectives that you can complete in any order, at any time. The objectives are listed on the side of the screen and checked off as they are completed, preventing the trial-and-error nightmare that was the Stuntmanís missions. You can handle the objectives one at a time if you like, as you only have to successfully complete each objective the first time in order for it to count, and you donít have to complete each and every goal to move on to the next level either. Missions restart instantaneously and save automatically, cutting down on all the waiting-around time that made the Stuntman near unbearable. These thoughtful additions and improvements give Chase the edge over the Stuntman.

The missions themselves are varied and exciting, with a gradual difficulty curve that makes starting the game easy, but finishing it pretty damned hard. Completing each and every goal is a challenge to even the most hardcore gamer, and finding each levelís hidden item is even more of a task, but well worth the effort since it helps unlock some of the gameís many extra modes. These include plenty of multiplayer challenges (something else the Stuntman didnít have), like Evil Knievel-style Jump Challenges, Burnout inspired Stunt Point Challenges (where the most insane stunt wins), and Hit and Run mode, which is basically bumper cars meets Destruction Derby.

You donít have to worry about being too overwhelmed by the challenge of the later levels, though, as a Stunt School is included to get you acclimated with the gameís controls and the carís handling. The vehicles handle very well and pulling off specific tricks like driving on two wheels or barrel rolls couldnít be easier, unlike the Stuntman whose controls were as unforgiving as its levels.

About the only thing Stuntman has over Chase is its engine. The Stuntman engine was capable of much more realistic physics, much more detailed car destruction, and much better collision detection. Also, as a side effect, the reply mode isnít quite as satisfying as the Stuntmanís either. Compared to Stuntman, Chase looks and feels much less realistic overall, and the Replay Theater isnít as flashy or robust as what Reflections has offered in the past, but these arenít fatal flaws. If you dug the look and feel of Crazy Taxi and you arenít married to the idea of incredible replies, youíll have no problems with this game. If you are looking for something along the lines of the Driver though, you may have to wait for something else to come along.

How may things can you think of that basically "stole" someone elseís idea and delivered a copycat that was better than the original? Not many. Well, regardless of how cruel it may sound, this is exactly what Chase did; I-Imagine Interactive took Reflectionís Stuntman concept and did it their way, creating a game that is a realization of what Stuntman could have been if it wasnít marred down with frustration and load times. If you ask me this is an incredible thing theyíve done. It would be great if they could go behind all the big time developers and redo their recently over-hyped yet tragically crappy games. Might I suggest taking a crack at State of Emergency for all our sakes? How about Toe Jam and Earl III? Lord of the Rings: Two Towers? BMX XXX? Anyway, itís a real shame that this game will most probably get lost under the flood of high profile Xbox titles out there now, like Splinter Cell, MechAssault, Unreal Championship and the like. This game is very fun, just challenging enough, and deserves to be in a few peopleís libraries.

Highs:

  • Like Stuntman, only better in nearly every way.
  • Low on the load times.
  • Very forgiving gameplay and objective structure.
  • Multiplayer modes are always a plusÖ
  • ÖAs is the ability to play MP3s from your Xbox hard drive.

Lows:

  • Engine isnít quite up to Reflectionís quality.
  • Replays arenít as good as Stuntmanís.
  • Will probably be overlooked by the buying public for more hyped titles.

Final Verdict: 

If there are any Xbox owners who thought Stuntman looked super cool, this is the game for you. If there are any PS2 owners who were summarily let down by the Stuntman, this is the game for you. If you are looking for a fun driving game about car wrecks and explosions, this is the game for you. A very solid title and well worth checking out; definitely recommended.

Overall Score: 8.9

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