Some games are just great, where ever you find them. Others can be suited to one format in particular, or even just to the arcades. Then you get games that are just inexcusably dull or badly executed, leaving you wondering in what universe it could possibly be seen in a redeeming light. Now you’re on my wavelength and ready to briefly share in the pain that was testing this game.
Usually, you’d want a review to offer good detail of all aspects of game play. However, I’m not going to bother ripping every detail apart, broad headings will save you time and still carry the same point. The graphics are blocky, not able to match Sega Dreamcast standards (and Crazy Taxi on the Dreamcast is eight years old). I am most reminded of the Simpsons game when looking at these graphics, but that’s probably due to the sugary snacks that decorate the city, waiting for you to collect them as powerups. Unimaginative sound – definitely amongst the worst, most repetitive and cheesy I’ve sampled – greets you as a new player racing around the city to solve criminal incidents one after the other. If you’re sent to catch criminals, that means driving your car into them. Yes, into them. It then tells you that you’ve ‘caught’ a criminal.
They’ve taken the mini-quest approach that was popularised by Crazy Taxi in the arcades and on Dreamcast/Gamecube. On screen arrows guide you to your next point after you’ve started a quest by driving into a flashing circle graphic, but the lack of a minimap leaves you feeling disjointed from the city. Although other games have managed well without a minimap, this one doesn’t. The city really is a bland, boring, unmemorable affair. With recent games such as GTA and Burnout setting such high standards for driving titles, this checks none of the boxes you’d expect.
Launching you straight into action, you suddenly find yourself engaged in quests which are best described as minigames. One example is defusing bombs, which you aren’t shown how to do and suddenly find yourself doing. Frustration quickly begins to boil as you realise you’ve been sold a duffer.
Perhaps we can put it down to the Wii, somehow? It’s an arcade driving title, maybe the Wii controls let it down? I’d love to offer some reprieve here, but I can’t. To be honest, the only remotely fun aspect of the game was the Wii controls, which weren’t enough to save it. The controls were pretty responsive and worked well enough, but that’s about the only positive. One driving game fanatic described this as ‘mind numbing and spirit crushing’. Oh dear …
I want to like Codemasters, I really do. They gave me some of my happiest childhood gaming memories like Micro Machines (NES). But nostalgia cannot hope to paper over the recent array of mediocre to simply poor titles they’ve come out with, and this really puts icing on the cake. Sorry Codemasters, you dropped the ball and then started kicking it. Emergency Mayhem is a poor Wii title with no imagination, that’s clearly wanting to be Crazy Taxi but isn’t.
It so isn’t.