There are the good games and there are the bad games but then, much to our annoyance, there are the games that do half of it right and then bugger off for a cup of tea forgetting to complete the job. Lets get this straight from the off, this game fits the above definition, but don’t let that put you off. If a game ever fitted into the cliché ‘good clean fun’ this would be it. It may not turn many heads, but allow our review to nudge your views slightly…
The best way to explain the basic feel of this game is through comparison. Take Crazy Taxi and one massive city from the real world, that would be LA, and rather uninspiring you have yourself one hell of an average game billing. This is the first minus point. This is just old games with knobs on. Replace Taxis with Minis, replace the cartoon like worlds of SEGA and replace them with the solid and dependable looks of the original Burnout. We could possibly compare each and every aspect of this game with something that has been before, but pettiness isn't going to get anyone anywhere now, is it. It may be cobbled together more than an Iraqi dossier but it all plays rather well, and is therefore quite an enjoyable experience.
The aim of the game is to complete tasks like parking cars (better than it sounds) and tailing cars (wonderful fun for the more erratic of driver) whilst all the time evading the long petrol driven arm of the law. The scenery around you is nothing too special, but the size of it all is what impressed us. This is a massive location, and it is all here to be enjoyed. Whilst the detail is not the best in the world you have to commend the developers for having a damn good crack at making a truly engaging gaming environment. This is not LA exactly. As far as we can remember the real City of Angels contains no buildings that can be used as launch pads for Minis along with other vehicles and ramps that enable you to fly over, around and if your unlucky into various objects. Finding shortcuts is encouraged by the aggressive way in which you have to play this game. Slamming your way down an alley, or over a small building will do you the world of good to shave those precious seconds off the clock. When you reach your goal you are rated on not just your time, but also the damage sustained by your vehicle during the time you spent out 'behind the wheel'. And so we hit another rut: mixed up gameplay. This game encourages you through all the courses to go on a kamikaze mission with your Mini, but when it comes to the end it punishes you for it. Getting the balance right between madness and moderation is quite an art and detracts quite a bit from the simple 'pick up and play' ideals that this game sets out so well in other departments. The controls, like most the game, are simple and nothing else. You pick them up the second you touch the pad, and we never even had to think about what we are doing which is credit to a job well done.
Elsewhere there is the standard story mode, and keeping in mind how painfully mediocre the Hollywood film is there is very little 'story' to speak of, but it is enjoyable none-the-less. As part of the PS2-port-piss-off there are only two players in the circuit race mode that pits you against one friend and lets you tear around bits of LA in a bid to finish first.
Finally, and rather enjoyably is the free-roam option. You can just drift around enjoying the city, or tear around like a maniac reeking total havoc. Or you could use it for the more conventional 'plan your mission' tactic. The part that we love (and a major rip-off of Burnout) is the Stunt Mode. Thankfully what it copies it does well. This is perhaps one of the most addictive game modes to be found on the GameCube. Slamming your Mini up ramps and through the narrowest of gaps at a great rate of knots is difficult enough, now add in some g-force inducing corners and manic jumping and you have a mode that you just can't stop playing.
Sadly that is where the length ends. With only 15 missions in the main part of the game this is a little too on the skinny side for our liking. To add insult to injury the missions are not the most difficult thing you will ever come across. Indeed for a main game mode the mission section is what really lets this title down. The courses should allow you to enjoy some all out maniacal driving, but in order to fulfil your mission in the very tight time limits you have to simply race it safe with the annoyance of the police lamely flapping at your wing mirrors if you do anything less than medium speed. And for one of the busiest cities in the world we are still pondering as to quite where all the traffic has gone; as far as we are aware there was no apocalypse in LA...
It's not original, and its nothing too groundbreaking but it is good, clean fun. The emphasis is on pick up and play and the whole package fits that moniker well enough.
Do all they have to do without ever doing too much. Make no mistake the environment is huge, but we would of expected some more elaborate textures and a wider colour palette.
Dull at best. Whilst the graphics don't really do anything wrong and are solid enough the sound is weak and at more than one moment we found ourselves hitting mute and playing along to the glorious sounds of The Darkness.
The main mission mode is painfully short with limited powers of entertainment but the addictive nature of the Stunt Mode will keep you coming back and there is some fun to be had in the 2 Player mode for a while. Still, disappointingly short.
We said it was average at the start. Half of it is right, half of it is just plain wrong and that is a real shame as this game had the possibility of becoming a much-loved racer on the 'Cube. Instead, due to its flaws, it is nothing more than a short lived, pick up and play let down. It doesn't leave a sour taste in the mouth, but it hardly makes you drool either. We'd love to tell you all to buy it, but perhaps this is one of those 'rent only' title.