Gamestyle Archive intro: the archive will be full of games that arrived and suddenly fell through the cracks. I don’t even remember anything about this title and it didn’t go down well with Alex Carroll. The only other interesting aspect is that the original review contained a link to Games Importer to purchase the game. This was a retailer that Gamestyle had an agreement with back in 2003.
Writer: Alex Carroll
Published: November 2003
Maximum Chase is the first game born from Microsoft’s new Game Studios idea – a way of getting fresh Japanese games to the Xbox. When I heard the game would be a free-roaming arcade racer combined with elements of 1st person shooters I got quite excited, and the smiling, child-like Genki logo got me thinking just how good they could have made an Xbox version of Tokyo Racer, my all time favourite racing series.
Unfortunately, Maximum Chase owes more to the likes of Wreckless than anything else, such is the gameplay on offer – the driving sections simply have you racing from one end of the map to the other whilst avoiding the mounting pressure from the highly aggressive blokes in various blacked-out cars and vans, and the shooter sections are sadly completely dull and not at all fun to play. Divided in two, then, Maximum Chase offers around 10 levels of each type of game, back to back, based loosely around Los Angeles. The story is sub-Hollywood b-movie standard, yet takes itself far too seriously to get away with the awful acting (the FMVs between levels use real humans) but isn’t really too important for progression, in fact the levels are so similar in what they ask of you that watching the cut-scenes isn’t necessary at all.
The main issue here is that the game is just far too easy – not only will you have no problems completing each level on the first attempt (with the exception of the last couple of levels) but the majority of your attempts will also earn you “A” rankings, totally removing any replayability in one fell swoop. Some levels are also criminally short and basic, which in total will probably give you 3 or 4 hours of gameplay before you’ve seen the very end of the game. Whilst each area is vastly different (you’ll drive through cities, industrial estates and even theme parks) the graphics don’t really hold up, especially against the FMVs the developers chose to interspurse the story with – the different in quality is jarring. Textures are basic, the lighting is cheap and cheerful, there’s serious aliasing problems and the frame rate, given the low amount of polygons being shifted, is shocking. This is especially evident in the replays (often a saviour of games like this) where the action slows to less than 10 frames a second – not good. It’s true that the driving sections are quite fun for the most part (although it’s often less than obvious where you’re supposed to go, which can lead you to driving around in circles) but the shooting levels are terrible. On rails and exactly the same each time, you’re forced to move the sluggish target around with the left stick, fire with the A button and reload with B.
The controls here are unresponsive at best, and there’s some nasty slowdown too. Thankfully most players will get through these levels first time and not have to sit through them again. So, no, Maximum Chase is not one to buy, especially at inflated import prices (it’s only available in Japan at the moment) despite English subtitles and menus. Half of the game is playable, but only about an eighth of the thing is enjoyable. Unless there’s some serious work done to any other conversions, we suggest you stay clear.
Gamestyle Score: 4/10