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     " How long has it been since weíve seen a chopper rescue game? I think Commodoreís were still prevalent. "

      Title: City Crises by Take 2 Interactive

      Format: PS2 Helicopter action game

      Reviewing Monkey: Chimpan-A

      The Hype: There hasnít been much hype about this game, but the box boys say this: "Inspired by the heroic efforts of helicopter rescue units around the worldÖ" It promises daring rooftop rescues, blazing infernos to fight, action packed game modes, and a host of deadly obstacles to navigate. Well, letís see if itís time to call 911.

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Graphics: Well, thereís certainly nothing stunning here. Everything is kind of mediocre. A good job was done on the various helicopters you can pilot. However, everything else seems to have been done to the bare minimum. The cars are square and blocky, the buildings are relatively uninteresting, even the people youíre rescuing look ill formed, even when you see them clearly. Though, only very rarely will you be close enough to see a person. Occasionally you might get a little insert picture of them calling out to you. Even the fire, which should be the highlight of the game, is simple and fairly uninteresting, although I will give a nod to the smoke effects, which are done well. 2 out of 5

      Sound: The sound effects are well handled and come off fairly well. The sirens sound accurate; the helicopter makes appropriate whooshing sounds. It even makes the proper sound when it comes in close to the ground, with the props blowing against the earth. The crash noises could have been handled a bit better, but the explosions are okay. The voice acting consists of people of various types saying, "Help" in various ways over and over again. Thus, itís pretty hard to screw up, and comes out just fine. The musical score is about as varied as the voice acting, with approximately three songs. They attempt to give the proper pulse to the aforementioned action packed game modes, but generally only succeed in keeping the game from being silent. 3 out of 5

      Game Play: Okay, when I first heard the name City Crises, I was thinking: "Buff Hardcakes takes on entire city worth of Super Mutant Terrorists with nothing but monkey poo and cheese grater." Instead, I got a helicopter rescue game. This was not necessarily a bad thing. The controls are all easily learned and very simple. Most of the controlling is done with the analog sticks and shoulder buttons. The helicopters control about like helicopters should (not that I know what itís actually like to pilot one). That is, no turning on a dime, executing instant stops, etc. There are three game modes: rescue, chase, and time trial. If time trial isnít self-explanatory to you, go buy more racing games, right now. Rescue has you flying to wherever the map tells you, and, obviously, rescuing people. Fighting fires and rescuing people manages to give a bit of a warm fuzzy for the first few minutes. One thing that bugged me though was that youíre not just rescuing the people in the burning building. Apparently, random people on the street who just happen to need a ride to Burger King also warrant a rescue chopper landing for them. Maximizing your score often depends on picking up extra people, especially random people in the middle of nowhere. Thatís just dumb. The Chase mode gets props for a cool idea. This mode has you helping out the cops by following a criminal and keeping your spotlight on him so the cops can catch him. Unfortunately, any points garnered for this cool idea are lost by the fact that there are only two Chase levels. In fact this game only has about ten levels, total, and several of them have to be unlocked. On the one hand, this means the game is very short. On the other hand, this means the game stops shortly after you get bored with it. The thrill of fighting fires dies quickly and the game becomes very repetitive. There arenít a whole lot of options either. Even the controls are changed with pre-set configurations. They try to do some cool stuff here, but thereís not enough of it to save the gameplay. 3 out of 5

      Level and Environment Designs: You work in a city; Iíve already mentioned the poorly done graphics. There are only three levels, but theyíre done fairly well. The layout is pretty interesting. Of course, it doesnít really make much difference in rescue mode, where you can just fly above the city and get where youíre going. In chase mode youíll come to appreciate, or curse, the twisty turny streets that keep you from your prey (unfortunately, both chase games occur in one level, so you donít get much variety). Youíll curse them doubly in Time Trial. One level, the "final rescue" in which you help disaster survivors looks great, and really captures the feel of a disaster torn city. The environment is static, with the only interaction being the ability to crash into it. Some buildings will explode and deteriorate with time and fire; this is a rare occurrence. 3 out of 5

      Multiplayer: Sorry kids, no inviting your friends over to help you rescue the guy in the giant cat suit. I think a multiplayer mode could have been implemented here. A simple split screen with two players racing to see how many they could rescue. Multiplayer chase might have been awesome! 0 out of 5

      Replayability: Well, as I mentioned, the game is short. You will most likely unlock the majority of the game (a few levels, two secret choppers) within your first day of playing. Any excess playing you do after that will be to get the best score. As I also mentioned the game gets very repetitive. This could have been solved by adding a greater variety of levels, or by not making some of the more fun levels as hard to unlock. There are a few good level ideas (such as one where you have to keep the fire on a plane down, in flight), but not enough to make this game worth going through a number of times. 1 out of 5

      Story/Dramatics: Story? You mean to tell me that being a brave fire fighting, helicopter piloting, badass isnít enough for you? Well too bad. Iíve told more of a story in this review than the game even tries to tell. The best you can hope for is a small bit of exposition at the beginning of a mission. This is not the game to play if youíre looking for a story. .5 out of 5

      Instructions and Learning Curve: The instructions wonít really tell you anything you canít learn from playing the game for fifteen minutes. I canít decide if Iím annoyed or pleased with the placement of controls instructions (theyíre on the back of the instruction book). On the one hand, theyíre conveniently placed if youíre looking for them, on the other, if you donít know theyíre there, you can spend a good deal of time looking for them in vain. The learning curve is about as easy as they come though. Youíll be fighting fires like a pro in no time. While it may take you a little while to get the hang of your helicopter, thatís not really an issue unless youíre trying to beat time trial. 4 out of 5

      Installation and Real System Requirements: Well, this game certainly doesnít make use of the PS2s capabilities. On the up side, load times are relatively short. 3 out of 5

      The Verdict:


       On the one hand, I want to give props to Take 2 for bringing some fresh air into our clone ridden game market. I mean, how long has it been since weíve seen a chopper rescue game? I think Commodoreís were still prevalent. Unfortunately, the game isnít done very well. The graphics are lackluster, the gameplay gets repetitive, and it is far, far too short. There could have been more done to spice it up some, but otherwise this game is simply lacking.

      The Good: Itís some good clean (read non-violent) fun-rescuing people from fires.

      The Bad: Far too short, not enough here to keep you coming back.

      The Overall Ugly: If youíve just rented this game for the evening, enjoy it; itíll keep you entertained for that long, easy. If youíve bought itÖ Iím sorry.

      What it's Worth: a rental

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