By Lee Mehr 30th Nov 2019 | 1,115 views
The Adam Jensen “I didn’t ask for this” meme comes to mind when thinking of how Caipirinha Games/Toplitz Productions’ Police Chase occupied space on my hard drive. A friend had a twisted thought that he put in action: gift Lee this 1-star rated game and dare him to review it. As people like me are wont to do, I was up to the task if only to take a cursory glance at what the fuss was about. The result? I didn’t even buy the game and still I’m wondering if there’s a way to charge Toplitz with Grand Theft.
You take control of Tom, a rookie out to prove he’s worthy of the badge. With your robotically monotone partner, Patrick, you’ll perform police-oriented tasks ranging from the rudimentary to sting operations. Your work for City Police (I don’t remember them ever stating their location) is about getting crime off the streets, and occasionally winning some races.
If I had a scintilla of care perhaps I’d extol more of the actual plot, but it becomes more about the egotistical protagonist going to the station with his partner, HQ receiving a call, and simply responding to said call. There’s something of an arc with uncovering who hit your boss’s vehicle and a bombing plot, but they play out like insipid daytime-TV serials. It’s about as exciting as a colonoscopy. And Tom can’t help but sound obnoxious at every given moment.
“Aw, c’mon Claudia… don’t you think this hot stud is the one for you?”
Virtually every interaction with girls brings this kind of attitude up to the surface. In some ways I think those cheesy rejoinders could’ve worked in a better story. A middle-aged, womanizing cop looking to catch some chicks on the job? I’ve heard worse. But the awkward delivery makes every attempt a recoiling affair to sit through. When hearing his voice and listening to these lines, I couldn’t help but think this was Tommy Wiseau’s misguided interpretation of how James Dean would act. The voice actor sounds like he’s wrestling a smorgasbord of various accents while trying to come off as an American. Then again, half of the enjoyment comes from this distraction compared to everyone else sounding stilted. A wild car crash makes a race more memorable.
That’s all there is to it, really. Tom just plays a straight hotshot at every cringe-inducing turn, his robotic partner pulls him back to the task at hand, police chief sometimes gets angry, and mysteries get solved without any sense of a checkered-flag finish. That’s the campaign, aside from occasional police-sanctioned races for better vehicles (which interrupt during the middle of your investigations for some reason). All of this told via interchangeable MS-Paint slides that look as stupid as the script sounds.
The same half-assed approach is transplanted to the mission structure as well. Police Chase is a racing game through and through. The story-focused missions run the gambit of driving to *x location*, then to another spot, and periodically tailing someone. Ironically enough, around the halfway point of the campaign will be the first time you, as the police, chase down a suspect.
All of these tasks are exacerbated by the static behavior of the world itself. Guard rails, any sort of tree, specific pieces of the environment are ratcheted down solid; your car will commit to a full stop upon impact, regardless of speed. So, one of the few exploratory elements common among racers is lopped off here in favor of this poorly-designed city acting like a rat maze. It’s also weird how the game dedicates time talking about vehicle health and your gas tank, but does nothing meaningful with it. I thought you’d be graded after each mission or consider your money before doing repairs. None of that matters. Just drive up to a gas or repair icon and you’re fine.
The racing mechanics barely make it over the hump of feeling functional. There’s hardly any difference in vehicle handling aside from their respective max speeds. Larger vehicles feel so unnecessarily top-heavy that I never got used to them—which made the game more unwelcoming considering a van is your starting vehicle. Cars avoid the issue by feeling lower to the ground, but it’s tough to care when the wheels for all of them feel like they’re made out of cardboard. Imagine a life-sized Hot Wheels car on the road and you’d get an idea of how incongruous the steering, drifting, and more would feel. I haven’t had such a dreadful first impression of a racer since Coffin Dodgers.
Even with such issues, Police Chase wouldn’t quite tip towards one of my most abominable experiences for this generation were it not for technical issues. Granted, it’s not some high-profile case of Toplitz sneaking past Microsoft’s certification a la Assassin’s Creed: Unity. But considering the work-arounds like the bits of the environment materializing in front of you in N64-era fashion and its already-appalling level of graphical fidelity, one would think that would be enough to not make me put up with an inconsistent framerate on an Xbox One X. And God forbid I take control of that police drone one more time. The only thing that prevented me from outright quitting said moments of single-digit framerate drops was their brevity. There were also miscellaneous bugs, such as with one moment where a downed streetlight smashed the vehicle, resulting in my camera hovering inside the van’s interior ceiling. There’s also the ability to break the game world by restarting missions in a specific way wherein all story HUD markers vanish.
Is all of this to say Police Chase is broken? Technically… no. It’s a case where you can’t argue that the essentials of driving, reversing, braking, and steering do function—albeit terribly in some cases. But these factors, including the admittedly enjoyable sensation in pulling a J-turn, are as far as I’d go. Every other consideration feels unengaging. Even the basic fundamentals of racing can be ignored, as off-roading for some maps can enable you to skip half of the track!
In case you thought I was joking, these pictures are in fact from this game. From top to bottom, it’s clear that every asset was purchased from a 3rd-party and no extra work was put into them. Maybe, maybe, it took some pains to place Tom and Patrick character models in the car—unlike every other AI automobile. Even all of the UI elements have no character. Credit where it’s due: the paltry variety of vehicles don’t stack up to the average racing game today but they do at least look different enough to feel like rewards upon completing missions.
The less said about sound design the better. You literally have to go to the options menu and change the default sound settings from zero, that’s how much the game wants to hide it. Everything from the repeating soundtrack to rudimentary effects sound like they were lifted from a sketchy website. If you want to get a sense of the aural experience you're in for: confine yourself to a small room with a leaf-blower and try to make gear-shifting sounds with your mouth. Well, there's always the default setting if it bothers you.
Value is a strange one to delineate because, to its credit, there are various modes to tackle. There’s a campaign, other races not included in the campaign, and a free play mode. If you were to accumulate all of the hours to complete everything, perhaps that’d justify your dollar-per-hour threshold. But when considering just how lazily-developed this game is, priced at thirty US dollars, this strikes me as highway robbery. I have a habit of digging at terribly misguided games, even when they’re not being too pricey, but I think a punitive stance fits because this is such an insult.
Police Chase may go down as one of the worst games of this generation with this added qualifier: “to make it past a console’s modern certification process.” It’s one of the priciest asset-flipped racing games I’ve ever seen. And despite not spending one red cent of my money, there’s still this pit in my stomach as though I’d been robbed and am searching for recompense. If games publishers & developers had badges, I’d tell these folks to turn theirs in.
Despite being one of newest writers on VGChartz, Lee has been a part of the community for over a decade. His gaming history goes back several console generations: having a N64 & old NES at home while also enjoying other console/PC titles elsewhere. Since then, he's always liked gaming across various systems--though real-life makes it burdensome at times. Lee's a General Contractor by trade, and has touched upon every critical aspect necessary to maintain a house: roofing, electrical, plumbing, and more. When not doing the daily grind, he can be found gaming (obviously!), writing about games (obviously again!), doing various recreational activities, or slowly grinding through the world's most-acclaimed books.