Developed by UDS and VU Games, World’s Scariest Police Chases was released in May 2001 and since then it has been receiving very harsh and unfair critics simply because it is similar to Driver, which I don’t see why it would be a bad thing, really for Driver is indeed a great game but well… haters gonna hate. One must also admit that the cover of the game screams “DON’T PLAY ME” when you set your eyes on it, but “thou shall not judge the game by its cover”, plus probably someone in the marketing department of the game studio got canned for the cover art anyway.
The game is based on the TV series produced by Fox Television which was aired in many countries in different continents and achieved a good number of viewers around the globe. The show is one of the coolest reality shows out there, where a camera shows real life police chases in the US accompanied by a melodramatic -yet funny- commentary.
What is this game all about? Well, I think it is pretty clear once you have seen the title. You are a member of the police force racing your way to catch all kinds of crooks. The game has no story whatsoever, the only continuity that you may find between stages is a recurring criminal and the fact that your first four stages take place in the police academy thus creating the idea of a career. There are no names or personalisation’s of any kind either, you are constantly known as “Unit 1” and that’s about all you know regarding your character. Riding shotgun there is a female officer who is probably really fit if you are the kind of guy that is into pixelated females. I’m not one, by the way.
There are basically three modes in the game: Single mission where you can play a mission you have already completed in Pursuit mode, which is the “campaign” mode of the game. Finally, you have Free Patrol mode in which you are given the chance to patrol the streets preventing crime. This mode has a two player option, so while player 1 drives the car, player 2 can handle the weapons.
The game has 20 missions, all of them follow the same chase and stop the other vehicle pattern - but they are not in the least dull. The variety lies not in the chase itself but in the way you are supposed to ram the crook’s vehicle, approach the vehicle armed or unarmed, retrieve lost evidence, etc. Missions go from stopping a drunk driver to destroy a hijacked fully armed TANK. IF that’s not bad ass, then tell me what is. A few missions can really be annoying at first since your car normally takes a lot more damage than your opponent’s but once you figure out what to do to bring the criminal down, it’s a rather simple game that you can finish in a couple of hours. Unlike Driver, in WSPC you can use weapons, not in every mission, that’s true, but there is still plenty of shooting for those out there who enjoy firing a shotgun at moving targets every once in a while.
It is impossible to deny that there is a sort of Driverish thing surrounding the game, but then again, it is nothing to complain about. One look at the HUD and, if you have played Driver, you will understand exactly what I’m saying: On the top left hand corner there is the damage bar (just like Driver), below you have a distance to target bar and right below there’s the enemy’s damage bar. Once your damage bar is depleted you are done, and I can assure you that your car will be totalled a lot of times during your first play through’s. It takes some time to get used to the different type of cars but once you have mastered them, you have 90% of the game in the bag.
Despite the lack of manoeuvrability of some vehicles, the controls are rather standard and easy to get: one button for breaking, another for accelerating, another to turn the siren on/off and you can cycle through the different weapons with the R and shoot with the L. The aiming system works smoothly, I must add. One very annoying thing is the fact that there is no pause button. I have hit start, select and even plugged a different controller lest it was damaged, but the game won’t pause, so you either have to wait until the stage is cleared or throw the towel and lose if you want to do any “unusual” thing like take a darn phone call (wearing diapers is also an option if you really have to use the loo and you are on the verge of catching that sleazy criminal, but I’ll leave that up to you).
Graphics are pretty much all right for a PS one game although they could be better. The roads, signs and the city itself look good with very subtle glitches here and there. There are very cool details such as sparks, rain, and car damage that enhance the player’s experience. A very important thing worth mentioning regarding the graphics department is that they help create the feeling of speed, which is something utterly important in racing tittles. On the other hand, the camera system is a disaster. If you think that you could use a mirror view when you are supposed to hit a car that’s behind you might be right, but the developers don’t agree with you so there is no mirror view, but instead they threw two side cameras completely useless only for your voyeuristic pleasure.
The sound is nothing out of the ordinary, not for being bad or anything, only because it is too limited. Most of the times you will hear sirens, the eventual crackle of the radio and metal being slammed or crumbling into pieces.
Critics have been unfair with this one, World’s Scariest Police Chases may not be the greatest driving title of its generation but I strongly recommend you to get a copy of the game if you are into titles such as Driver or The Italian Job, and check for yourself if World’s Scariest Police Chases doesn’t deserve some credit after all.
Verdict:- If I have to be absolutely fair, the game would have been more acclaimed if it had included a mode to play as the robber and maybe the chance to select your vehicle before each mission.
Having said that, the game is what a game should be: FUN and it is also the perfect fix for those like me who still play Chase HQ II in the Genesis and think that how badly it needs a remake.
Against other titles in the same genre and appearing so late this was never going to set the world on fire but not every game has to now does it? Bottom line it's a solid game, lots of fun and is absolutely worthy of a play.
Second Opinion:- In the games industry the word clone is now very popular however it's when you see games like this one that you realise that sometimes a clone can in fact be more than worthy of it's own place in the genre.
Driver may have opened the floodgates to games like this however it's arcade hits like Chase HQ that really are the true inspiration here as the shooting aspect in this title is what easily keeps it relevant and fun.
Whilst this will not be a benchmark title or a game people rave about for years on end it is a perfectly solid racing and shooting slice of retro pie and as such is easily worth some time spent on it, worst case scenario is that you want to play Chase HQ afterwards which basically means this does it job.
Transbot Scores:- 7 out of 10