Here's something you don't see every day. In an age when the complexity of video games is increasing right alongside the technical capabilities of the hardware, Maximum Chase is a simple, straightforward 10-level driving and shooting game. There's not a whole lot of depth or substance or even replay value, but what's here is playable and pretty entertaining while it lasts. The hokey storyline, complete with bad B-movie live-action scenes, makes the whole thing feel campy and fun, and what Maximum Chase might lack in longevity it makes up for with sheer craziness.
Traffic cop Rick Summer battles the nameless baddies in Maximum Chase.
The storyline in Maximum Chase is straight out of some bad action movie you'd see on Saturday afternoon cable television. You play as Los Angeles detective-turned-traffic cop Rick Summer, who's out making his daily rounds when fate combines his destiny with that of songstress-in-distress Catherine Stanfield. Cathy's on the lam, desperately trying to avoid some evil group or other, and the two end up in a series of epic car chases spread across all sorts of urban and rural areas. The storyline plays out between missions in the aforementioned live-action scenes, and though they're poorly acted and take place against really fake-looking CG backdrops, they have the same kind of so-good-they're-bad charm you get out of the typical slasher flick. These cutscenes also have the amusing benefit of always finding you a newer, more stylish car to drive. The game's story is outlandish enough to keep driving the action stages, which is what it's there for, and so it works perfectly fine in that respect.
There are two main gameplay modes in Maximum Chase--driving and shooting--and they alternate between stages. That is, the first mission is driving, the second is shooting, the third switches back to driving, and so on. The driving mode's objective is simple: Get away from whoever's pursuing you. Thankfully, the driving mechanics are a little easier and more forgiving than in hardcore racing games, so you'll be able to pick up Maximum Chase and play it even if you don't have much in the way of Gran Turismo chops. It's good that the driving is accessible, since the driving stages have you plowing through a lot of areas that don't look like they were made to accommodate cars. The shooting stages also have you inside your car, but you won't be driving; instead, you'll control a crosshair with the left analog stick and lean out the window to take potshots at your assailants. The shooting is pretty fun, if a bit silly--you're taking out SUVs with a handgun, after all--but it can get a bit repetitive after you have to do it too much.
At least as flashy and entertaining as the actual gameplay in Maximum Chase, if not more so, is the game's superb replay system. After a mission is over, you can watch a full replay of the action from a number of stylish action-movie camera angles. Often, it's more exciting simply to watch the replay of the last level than it was to actually play through it. That's not to belittle Maximum Chase's gameplay, which is pretty fun, but rather to emphasize that the replays are really cool. Oddly enough, you have to watch the replays to get all of the storyline, since there are plot snippets in the form of telephone and radio conversations that only play out while you watch the action. Finally, aspiring Steve McQueens can even save entire replays to a film gallery for later viewing, which is a neat enough feature.