Calling All Cars

Calling All Cars (CAC, harsh but fair) was easily the most anticipated of the early PSN titles, a combination of David Jaffe’s involvement and vids showing more knockabout fun than the legendary Skidmarks saw to that.

It’s presented flawlessly; there’s jovial graphics awash with a sense of humour, and music more appropriate than wellies in Gloucestershire. From splash screen to game over screen, it’s never less than a big, red-nosed clown of a game.

The premise is simple; you have to round up escaped convicts and drive them back to jail, gaining points for each time you manage it. Other cars compete against you to be first to grab the escapees, but even if they get there first, you can barge into them or use one of the three weapons to try and get the escapee into your own vehicle. Then you head full-tilt for the nearest drop-off point to gain your points. Score the most points and when the game ends, you’ll be the winner.

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The game is shown from a lovely angled, top-down perspective, with any buildings cleverly becoming transparent when you drive behind them. Much of the scenery is destrutible on the four levels, and there are plenty of ramps and jumps to fly off for the daredevils amongst you.

So far, so good. Rounding up the dregs of society is no bad thing: it certainly beats the certain death that will result should you tackle the real yobs outside who are no doubt snapping off your wing mirrors as you read. I digress…

CAC just screams out to be brilliant, but is ultimately hobbled by its lack of variety. Games are chaotic – even more so online – and this can be wearing after a while. Once you realise the different environments have no discernible impact, car choice even less, and that the game is one trick short of being a one-trick pony, you’ll probably not come back. And that’s such a shame, because the game is beautifully put together and reeks of more polish than any PSN game to date.

It was supposed to be a revolution and CAC would lead the charge: cheap and cheerful downloadable games showcasing the PSN’s future. But is a future of games this shallow what we want, no matter what the price?

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