Review by SaP

"Rarely does such a high-profile game prove so unplayable."

If there's one fact you may have heard about Chase the Express, it's that it was very obviously modelled after Resident Evil - and I must emphasise right at the start that that's OK with me. There have been countless rip-offs in the history of videogames, and some of them were just fine in their own right. Chase the Express, however, manages to get a lot of things completely wrong - including a few of the fundamental ones.

The premise of the game is interesting enough, if a bit naive. The protagonist is a secret agent that is assigned to protect a controversial politician and his family who foolishly decided to take a long train journey instead of a short aeroplane ride. Needless to say, there is a situation along the way: a terrorist group hijacks the speeding train, kill all crew members but our character while his client is of course who the bad guys are really after.

A serviceable story, you might think - but painfully unsuited to the game's Resident Evil-type mechanics. One would think it obvious, especially to the game developers, that the last thing you need in an action game are cinematic camera angles, awkward weapon management, and imprecise controls, yet that is exactly what the player has to work with in Chase the Express. Our character moves very slowly, he's unable to shoot while moving, and his body animation is without exaggeration the worst I remember seeing on the PlayStation - it really needs to be seen to be believed. The gameplay is further disturbed by frequent and long loading times, tedious backtracking, and the aforementioned camera angles that often force you to shoot blindly at the enemies because you simply can't see them - with the ammunition being in rather short supply. I'm not sure whether the fact that the enemies are very poor shots is a makeshift compensation for the ridiculous camera angles, or just poorly written code, but it fails to enhance the experience either way.

It really is too bad that the use of the camera and the controls were so misjudged; with it's decent graphics, interactive environments and fitting dramatic music, the game could have been an engrossing action thriller. In fact, the atmosphere was constantly reminding me of Syphon Filter with it's train and underground stages - but also just how much better Syphon Filter actually was. This is, after all, reflected in the popularity of the two games: they both came from Sony's in-house development teams, yet one generated raving reviews and spanned several sequels, while the other sank into oblivion almost immediately.


Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 02/27/06


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