Calling All Cars creator, David Jaffe always seems to be on the game community radar thanks to the success of the highly popular PS2 game, God of War.  So when he decides to branch out with other gaming endeavors, people take notice which can be a blessing or in some cases, a curse in disguise.  That’s why there was so much anticipation with the downloadable PS3 game, Calling All Cars.  Gamers were tracking the progress of the game like it was the next big thing, which was a bit unusual considering its basic arcade-style gameplay.  Regardless of its background, gamers want to know whether it’s worth the download or not.Calling All Cars is a simple cartoon-style catch-the-criminal chase game that has its strength in its multiplayer gameplay.  Yes, there are a couple of single-player modes (instant action and tournament mode) but the real fun comes with head-to-head action when your friends come over to play or when you go online.  The gameplay boils down to catching the loose criminal and bringing him back to the jailhouse or in some instances, a moving paddy wagon or helicopter.  Sounds easy enough but you have other players trying to do the same thing and with the help of power-ups they’ll make things challenging for you to say the least.  You can ram the player who is holding the criminal to steal him away or better yet, hit them with one of the fun power-ups (hammer, magnet or homing missile).  The power-ups can only be utilized once so you either have to be judicious in their use or be quick in driving over a spawn point to pick up a new one.Regardless of where you have to dump your striped pajama-wearing convict, you won’t have much time to enjoy your surroundings, which is too bad since the details of the levels are impressive for any type of cartoon, whether it’s a game or even a TV series.  A lot of the structures in the game are fully destructible, which is cool to see.  Yes, it is over the top when you can literally crash through a building but it’s a cartoon and it is fun to boot!  There are also moving obstacles such as trains in the always fun to play Trainyard level.  This level is my favorite since you can jump trains with the help of log piles and use the moving trains as strategic obstacles in your attempts to outrun your opponents.  The sound fits in nicely with its whimsical keystone cops style tunes.  The in-game sound effects are also a nice compliment to the slapstick mood and the Irish-accent of the game announcer is a perfect topping to the gaming goodness.The instant game single-player mode is a good way to get some practice in and that’s about it, since there are no rewards for winning these matches.  Some type of time record stats would have made sense here but it’s not a big deal since the tournament mode does offer rewards for winning by unlocking new car types.  Now how about offering unlock-able levels?  My only real gripe with the tournament mode is that you cannot save in mid-tournament.  Instead, you have to finish (and win) all four levels for completion, otherwise you have to start all over.  So it can be tough if you’re having difficulty with a certain level like I did with the snow-themed Alpine level.  With the every PS3 having a hard drive and the fact the game is all about pick-up-and-play, the lack of a save mode in the tournament mode is an annoying deficiency. The online play is pretty straightforward as you get to choose from a list of servers with games ranging from two to four persons.  Bots can also be added to make up for insufficient number of live players.  The match time is fully adjustable, which is great since longer matches tend to be the most harrowing as it gives people time to catch up to the leader.  So unless someone is really dominating, online matches can be a wide-open and exciting affair.  Unfortunately, there is no stat system so your bragging rights will be sorely limited.  On the upside, the game does offer split-screen play for up to four players, which is perfect if you have a bunch of buddies coming over and you’re looking to get a quick versus game up and running. The games are easy enough to jump into but never easy to master since your real-life opponents will make your life difficult especially around the jail (scoring area).  I lost count of the number of times I thought I had a sure score when all of sudden, I get pounced on and lose the escaped criminal.  This intensity is all good and well, but I can see a lot of gamers wanting more from the overall experience.  The most obvious need is the choice of more levels to play from, which is a no-brainer since the different types of settings would be virtually unlimited – modern high-rise city, old European city, amusement park, rural farmland setting, etc.  But to me, the most important addition would be in the area of new gameplay modes.  The current “catch the criminal” and put him back in the slammer is good baseline but can grow stale after awhile.  Calling All Cars is a perfect game for adding new game modes such as “hold the criminal” the longest in time wins or how about two-on-two teamplay where you and your teammate can utilize defensive strategies for protecting the criminal-holder.  I know these sound as basic as the standard gameplay itself but this is what Calling All Cars is all about – simple pick-up-and-play gaming against others.Calling All Cars is fun arcade-style game that is perfect if you’re looking for a simple versus mode game.  It’s easy to play and is intense all hell, which makes it hard to put down.  On the downside, there needs to be more levels and different types of game modes but it’s hard to get too down on it since it is only $10 USD.  If you’re looking for a basic and fun (but brief) multiplayer game for either local or online play, then Calling All Cars should be on your most wanted list this summer.

Paul Younger
Founder and Editor of PC Invasion. Founder of the world's first gaming cafe and Veteran PC gamer of over 22 years.

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