|System: PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Incognito Entertainment||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SONY||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 3, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jonathan Marx
The PlayStation Network has finally met the challenge presented by its competition. Until now, Sony has struggled to find a silver bullet hit to legitimate their online marketplace. Thankfully, Calling All Cars!! is a great little download. It is a game for all gamers both young and old. Anyone who appreciates the simple joy of a well-crafted arcade game will find this title a delight to play. Calling All Cars!! is sure to sell like hot cakes and will do well to strengthen Sony's tenuous grip on the download market.
The game is easy, though really quite fun. The objective is simple. Pick up escaped fugitives, and haul them off to jail. Sounds easy enough right? Well, not so fast. Try doing so with three other friends or A.I. coppers chasing you down with a barrage of weapons and nitros to nab the perp from your clutches. It's frustratingly refreshing, and will have you playing over and over again.
Scoring is straightforward. Bring the fugitive back to one of three levels at the jail. Each level has a point value associated with its relative difficulty. For example, it's really easy to drop the criminal off at the garage and pick up a solitary point, however, getting risky by going up ramps to the roof, accelerating off jumps to balconies, or hopping into the back of a paddy wagon have double or triple the value, and will quickly leapfrog you past your opponents. Look for helicopters, and stay under their flight path for even more points. Needless to say, this is nearly impossible as opponents are ever-present and quick to knock you out of the way. The vigilante copper with the most points at the end of the time limit or the one to reach the maximum point tally is awarded the victory.
Single player action is fun but not particularly rewarding. The computer A.I. is good and can be adjusted to your skill level whether you're a rookie, sergeant, captain, or chief. There are a lot of cars to choose from and even a handful to unlock. Unfortunately, there are only four stages and you may become tired of them quickly. Thankfully, they are all well designed and each provides a distinct challenge. Choose from a city course, a train course, an alpine course, and the burbs.
Multiplayer is clearly what the game was designed for, and this mode will not disappoint you. This really is a party game that you will enjoy playing with your friends on a frequent basis. Multiplayer battles are epic and chaotic. You will shriek with both horror and delight as a well-deserved three points are stolen from you by a homing missile that hits its mark mere inches from your goal. The banter and boasting and the cries of joy and rage will flow across your living room like a flood. This is the ultimate trash talker's game and one that will be hard to resist for you and your friends.
Online play is also supported, so even when you can't share the fun with your buddies you can have a ball with the blokes in the online lobbies. Sony even allows players to enable voice chat so that the mockery and ballyhoo so crucial to the experience won't go unheard.
Controls are spot-on and enhance the game. The Sixaxis controller's analog sticks are as smooth as creamy butter and you will be able to control your car expertly in a matter of seconds. Sony gives you the option to change the button mapping if you wish which is always a nice touch. The game is so simple that it probably isn't necessary, but everyone prefers a specific style so fiddle with the option and find your preference.
The graphics, sounds and overall presentation are wonderful. A whopping 1080p is supported making this cell shaded gem crisp, clean pleasure at which to look. Real-time terrain deformation is utilized so you'll probably find yourself whipping donuts for the fun of it. The look of the game is that of a cartoon. This nicely supports the comic feel and gameplay. The sounds are simple yet great. Sirens whine and the criminals shout as you plow into the unfortunate sot. I laughed quite loudly when I first heard the A.P.B. announcer's Irish accent like something out of a Looney Tunes cartoon. I roared when the criminal bounced from copper to copper and back again and he exclaimed in his Boston Irish lilt, "Oh God, it's a hot potato!" All of these sights and sounds make for a wonderful presentation that is quite endearing.
The basic concept for the game isn't wholly original, but the overall experience is. If you've ever played any of the multiplayer modes for MarioKart: Double Dash, then you'll know about Shine Thief, and that is how the game plays. They have made a nice twist, however, with the addition of the point system which makes for a more fun experience on the whole. Still, you'll race around as odd man out and be the target of your opponents' aggression as long as you remain the guardian of the criminal cargo. In other words, the game isn't groundbreaking, but it is quite fun and the sum of all its parts do make for a unique gaming experience that is sure to please.
There's not much to nit pick with this title. I wouldn't call it a perfect game, but it certainly is loads of fun. You'll get tired of the single player game quickly, but it should probably be viewed as a training ground for multiplayer battles. The game can be frustrating at times especially when the computer "cheats". I've seen the A.I. make uncanny dodges that a player could never rightfully execute. Also, the weapons are a bit useless. You only have three to choose from, and none of them are nearly as useful as a nitro-charged ramming. The homing missile is much better than the hammer or the magnet, which are truly useless, and can be used at crucial times to great effect. Additionally, there is a paucity of overall content. I suppose that's part of Sony's grand scheme. Look for the release of additional content for a price in the coming months to enhance the experience.
The game is great and definitely earns kudos. Sony and Incognito have done an admirable job. This is the kind of game that will establish the PlayStation Network as a formidable online gaming marketplace. This seems to be the wave of the future. Sounds good to me if games like Calling All Cars!! continue to abound. If you own a PS3, you must download Calling All Cars!!
CCC Freelance Writer