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by Take Two Interactive

citycrisis_ss4-01.jpg (7622 bytes)There’s something I really like about games where you have to save people instead of killing them. I feel like a nobler, better person when I’m putting out fires instead of starting them. City Crisis is a game that appeals to a person’s inner Samaritan and seeks to make helping others entertaining. I want to shower praise on this game for trying to bring out the good in gamers, but I have to be honest when I say that good deeds just aren’t as much fun (at least in this game) as blowing up a lot of really big buildings. I hate to say this, but give me the demolition crew of Blast Corp over the rescue team of City Crisis any day. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t think a good game can be made out of doing good deeds, but this game isn’t it.

The premise of the game is fairly straightforward. You’re a helicopter pilot in an unusually fire prone city who has to fly to the various crises and rescue citizens stranded amidst the towering flames. You lower your co-pilot down on a wench to save men, women and pets. After securing the safety of those at risk, you need to put out the fires with your water canons and retardant missiles before the buildings explode causing even more damage to the city. There is also a chase mode where you aid police by keeping your spotlight trained on criminals as they blaze through the city with reckless abandon.

citycrisis_ss1-01.jpg (8333 bytes)I really enjoyed the game the first time I played it, but my enjoyment quickly diminished when I realized that the game consisted of doing the same simple tasks over and over again. To the game’s credit, the levels are quite expansive with lots to do. However, you’ve only got a handful of helicopters to choose from (three with an additional one to unlock) and only a few levels to play through. After the first few saves, the game starts to feel tedious. I’ve always imagined that there is a certain level of tedium in any job no matter what the stakes, and City Crisis has confirmed it.

The graphics are just fine. The game looks very clean and the fires are perfectly adequate. The animations for panicky civilians is a little sloppy but forgivable. There are a couple of nice details in this game that were totally unexpected when considering how average most of it seems. I really enjoyed some of the details put into animating a few of the background areas. There is an amusement park in the center of town with a roller coaster going full force and a massive pirate ship swinging back and forth.

citycrisis_ss2-01.jpg (8623 bytes)The controls are straightforward and take little time mastering. There’s really very little sense of accomplishment when executing a rescue because none of them seem all that difficult. When landing on a helipad, I found it really difficult to set my helicopter down without taking any damage. I found this to be totally inconsistent with everything else about the game.

It’s amazing how much you can tell about a game from its menu screens. Not only are they poorly laid out, but they are really quite static. There’s absolutely nothing about the menus that gets you excited to play the game. And the music is guaranteed to annoy you to no ends.

citycrisis_ss3-01.jpg (9225 bytes)City Crisis feels like a really fun mini-game. If this had been imbedded in a bigger game where you play a demolitions expert or an arsonist, I would have devoted an entire paragraph to what a pleasant diversion it was to take a break from engulfing sky scrapers in flames and trying to save a couple of people. When I saw that this was a Take 2 game, I just assumed that they were introducing a series of budget priced games for the PS2. At 20 bucks it might be a nice diversion, but when you consider that you can get GT3 for the same price it feels like there’s something wrong in the universe.

You may be asking yourself why I even gave this game three stars. I like the fact that some game makers are willing to break with the "if it moves then kill it" mindset, and I think that this would be a fairly entertaining game for younger kids (a demographic that PS2 publishers have all but ignored up till now), but for the rest of us: Rent it. Save some people for a change and feel good about yourself for a few minutes. Be warned: that warm feeling swelling up in your chest won’t last much longer than this game and that’s not long enough.

Jason Frank   (09/03/2001)


Ups: Saving people instead of killing them; great level design; helicopters and fire.

Downs: Extreme repetitive gameplay; not many bells and whistles; overall mediocrity.

Sony PlayStation 2


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