In their continuing evolution, videogames are facing a predictable conundrum: new genres are arising, blending old concepts with new innovations; but the poor truth is that some of these concepts are too simple or shallow to make interesting, enjoyable games.
Such is the case with Chase: Hollywood Stunt Driver. Presumably released to compete against Stuntman, Chase is the namesake of (obviously) a Hollywood stunt driver whom you guide through various movie "scenes." This is not a game concept that developers have an easy time filling out with creative gameplay ideas, and Chase is hard evidence of that unfortunate fact. It's so overflowing with contrived gimmicks to (presumably) add to the depth and longevity to the game that its weak core gameplay sticks out like a sore thumb.
There are a few basic modes of play in Chase. Career mode sends Chase through a variety of movie scenes. There is one basic goal in each scene, and completing it will count the scene as a success, earning you points that allow you (at least early in the game) to play new levels. Along the way, there are numerous smaller objectives-collect this, destroy that, complete the scene in a certain time, etc-each worth a small amount of points. This is a form of game design that is increasingly common, and it's terribly unfortunate. Rather than fill many larger, more complex levels with unique gameplay devices and reward the player with advancement, the player is forced to repeat levels ad nauseam, performing a seemingly endless stream of tedious objectives that are just frustrating enough to sap them of their worth. A scene in Chase might challenge me to zig-zag through city streets to chase, destroy, or jump or something; during the course of the scene, I may have lucked out and completed one or two of the smaller objectives-do some flips in the air, powerslide, or run over a certain number of some obscure objects. However, I would quickly discover that in order to advance in the game, I'd need to repeat the scene many times, completing as many of the smaller objectives as possible until I accrued enough points to unlock a new movie or scene.
Going back and replaying each scene over and over, particularly when it involves such trivial gameplay devices, is about as entertaining as picking skin. I kept wondering what else I might be doing with my time, such as discovering a cure for the nausea left by bad videogames. If each objective were as entertaining as the central scene goals, the game may have held its weight a little better. The driving controls are simple and responsive, and the goals tend to be enjoyably challenging without inducing undue frustration. But in an attempt to add more substance to this arid game concept, the developers just added a myriad of trivial extras to each scene. Forcing gamers to play the same scenes over and over to progress is nothing short of a poorly conceived gimmick.
There is also a Stunt mode so bland it makes the career mode seem like gaming bliss by comparison. Simply jump over stuff and perhaps do some flips with the press of a button; rinse and repeat (a lot) with different cars and mildly different levels and you've got yourself a bona-fide minigame with as much appeal as ear hair. Perhaps it wouldn't be as mind-numbing if they didn't have the audacity to expect me to enjoy repeating the identical trick countless times with only a few different vehicles to spice up the action-vehicles that, unfortunately, all feel virtually the same.
A multiplayer mode barely worth mentioning and a number of unlockable extras (cars, mainly) are tossed in to give an illusion of depth. It's sort of like slapping unlockable costumes into a sub-par fighting game, as if throwing such a feeble incentive will compel players to play a badly designed game. But most of the problem with Chase: Hollywood Stunt Driver stems from the concept itself. This is just a bad idea for a videogame, and throwing in all the unlockables, minigames and extras in the universe can't turn it into a good one.
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