Platform: Nintendo Wii
Category: Action Games
Developer - Supersonic Software
Publisher – Codemasters
Wii Remote Compatible
Emergency Mayhem was originally announced back in 2004 at the Electronic Entertainment Expo and was slated to be released on the original Xbox and the PS2. At the time Acclaim was going to develop and publish the game. A couple of years later Acclaim filed for bankruptcy and as a result Emergency Mayhem went by the wayside. Codemasters has since picked up where Acclaim left off and they have finally released the game, but it is on the Nintendo Wii. So was Emergency Mayhem worth the wait? In some respects it was, however I would hope many of you were not holding you breath while waiting for the game to finally see a release date.
When it comes to the visuals in Emergency Mayhem many of your casual Wii gamers will be pleasantly surprised. It is a very bright and colorful game which takes a somewhat cartoonish approach. For those of you that have played Crazy Taxi, Emergency Mayhem draws many similarities,, as not only are the visuals very similar but the pace and style of the game feels very much like Crazy Taxi too. Unfortunately, while many casual Wii gamers may have no issue with the graphics, many of your next-generation multi-console owners will see otherwise. To those more hardcore gamers, nothing about the look of the game is incredibly original or awe-inspiring.
While Emergency Mayhem’s visuals are bright and colorful, the environments lack any real detail or sophistication. If you compare Emergency Mayhem’s Crisis City to Grand Theft Auto’s Liberty City, the environments in Emergency Mayhem are almost laughable. Nevertheless, the visuals do suit the game. Many of the buildings, mountainous landscapes, tunnels, streets, trees, and sidewalks (just to name a few things) are very clear and very basic. The vehicles you control such as the fire truck and police car also look very good and are easily recognizable keeping with that bright and simple theme. Even the games menus and maps are simplistic, something which is ideal for your younger gamer.
The speed of the game is impressive. I found no noticeable slow down and it ran at 60 frames per second quite easily. With so much chaos going on in the game I was amazed how smoothly the game ran. I did have some issues the directional arrow located at the top of the screen though as it seemed to have a mind of its own at times. The arrow points in the direction of where you must go but often the arrow leads right into a building and can frequently confuse you. The game would have been better served with a mini directional map or some kind of linear waypoint as seen in games such as GTA IV.
Overall, there is nothing visually innovative with Emergency Mayhem and you can’t help but think the game would have been better suited for a ‘last gen’ console as originally intended.
The audio in Emergency Mayhem are best described as busy. With so much going on in the game the sounds can be a little too much at times. It is almost like walking into a noisy arcade at a busy city fair. For instance, the sounds of the siren, radio dispatcher, in-game music, screaming pedestrians, and engines revving, all seem to compete with each other. It’s like watching an episode of the View with the all the lady’s talking over one another. It becomes painful at times and had me reaching for the volume more often than I would have liked.
The in-game music is consistent with the theme of the game, fast and chaotic. Nothing is soothing about the tunes in Emergency Mayhem. Much of the music also seems to loop over and over. Again, nothing is incredibly innovative here. Another concern is the character voice work as it seems canned and low budget. Sure the game is cartoony but that doesn’t mean the voice work has to suffer. Finally I found that it was somewhat odd that some of the in-game sounds come out of the Wii remote. I am not quite sure why the developers decided to have the sounds coming not only from your TV sound set up but also the Wii remote, but I guess they really wanted to try to take advantage of all the capabilities of it, including the speaker.
The gameplay in Emergency Mayhem takes place in they fictional locale of Crisis City. It is based around the three core emergency services: fire, police and emergency medical services. As the driver of either the Police Car, Ambulance or Fire truck, you must drive around in a frantic fashion from one destination to another as fast as possible. Sounding familiar yet? As indicated earlier on the game plays very much like Crazy Taxi and those of you who have played Sega’s arcade/Dreamcast classic will get the idea. It is fast paced, frantic and relentless. The difference with Emergency Mayhem is all the mini-games (over 30 of them) which are played throughout the game. When you arrive at a destination you are greeted with some objective where you need speed off to another location or you are greeted with an accompanying mini-game which is all about diffusing some kind of crisis. Most of these mini-games use the Wii remote’s motion sensing abilities. You will be doing a variety of activities from putting out flames, administering CPR, disarming bombs, wrangling escaped zoo animals, etc. Bottom line, the idea of Emergency Mayhem sounds fantastic but the execution is flawed from the get go.
When you first start the game there are four separate precincts, and each of these contain missions for the three emergency services personnel. The precincts act as different areas but at the end of the day there isn’t much of a difference from one precinct to another. Every mission in Emergency Mayhem is timed (unless you are in Crisis mode). You essentially have to drive around from one destination to another in a reckless fashion within an allotted time without demolishing your vehicle. If you ‘plow’ into some pedestrians or other vehicles it is not big deal as the game does not punish you for committing serious offences. The game’s style is very enjoyable at first but the mini-games do become repetitive quite quickly. Putting out a fire in a waste disposal for fifth time gets old real fast. Unfortunately, unlike many other games which include mini-games, Emergency Mayhem forces you to play the games. So even when you want to avoid that garbage can fire you can’t. Needless to say, it gets tedious and boring real fast. Younger gamers would likely enjoy the games as they are very easy to pick-up and play (with some exceptions). However, more mature gamers will get tired of Emergency Mayhem very quickly.
That problematic directional arrow that I mentioned earlier points you to the mayhem which needs immediate attention. A bright neon circular image is displayed at the source of the mayhem so it is easy to find the crisis spots. Fortunately, there are different mini-games for each of the three emergency services so at least you are not stuck with some of the same old mini-games throughout the entire single player story mode. While in a police car you are tasked with such things as having to chase down criminals, fix a flat tire or respond to a theft in progress. While operating a fire truck you will find yourself fixing a leaky fire hydrant, putting out fires, etc. Finally while operating the ambulance, you will perform CPR, help remove a nail from some poor sap’s body, etc. All these generally require you to use the Wii remote. It is great that the game used the features of the Wii remote, but the tasks do start to get old. Pumping a flat tire by jerking the controller up and down is just not all that enjoyable to me. Unfortunately, many of the mini-games play the same way.
Once you have completed the games missions, or are simply fed up with the experience, there are other modes available. There is a crisis mode which allows you to go back into the previously completed missions. This basically acts as a free roam type mode where you can explore the city with no time limit. Challenge mode consists of playing the mini-games by themselves in attempt to gain a higher score than you may have done previously. Survival mode is all about taking turns with some buddies to see who can last the longest behind the wheel. Finally, versus mode allows you to play split screen to see who can tackle the cities mayhem in a quicker manner. Versus mode was by far the most enjoyable out of all the modes for me as it certainly brought that competitive spirit.
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