If Calling All Cars has to be summed up in a single word, that word would be, without a doubt, “fun". And that’s exactly what David Jaffe, known for the awe-inspiring God of War, wants it to be. The gaming masses were taken-aback when he announced he was done with big games, but after playing Calling All Cars we hope it stays that way.
Developed by Incognito Entertainment and published by Sony Computer Entertainment, Calling All Cars has finally hit the Playstation Network. Jaffe was obviously inspired by his previous vehicular combat titles, Twisted Metal 1 & 2; in Calling All Cars, players are set free to scour the map in search of escaping criminals. Once a criminal has been caught, the objective is then to get him back to a jail without any enemy cars ramming you, thereby knocking the criminal out of your car.
When trying to score points, there are quite a few options. Head to a paddy wagon roaming around the map for either three or five points (the red ones are faster than the blue ones and therefore worth more points), or drive under a helicopter and stay there for a few seconds to airlift a criminal to jail for four points. You can also head to the standard jail and go for either the one, two, or three point options, all respectively increasing in difficulty. For example, on the Trainyard level, drive through a regular gate for one point, take a solid jump for two points or try and time a jump off a passing train for three.
While you’re considering all of these options, you’re quite consciously trying to dodge the other cars and their weapons, as well as use a few of your own. Calling All Cars employs three different weapons: the hammer, the magnet, and the missile. All three are useful, balanced, and great fun to both use and avoid.
The main draw and focus of Calling All Cars is the multiplayer, and that’s fine as it’s an absurd amount of fun to play. Up to four players can play at once, with two able to play online from the same console (this is the first PS3 title to feature online co-op). Four areas (City, Trainyard, Alpine, ‘Burbs) feels fairly limited, yet each is varied enough to provide a diverse and rewarding experience (though we wouldn’t have minded a few more). Online play is a blast, and with support for voice-chat you’ll be yelling at your foes while playing hot potato with an ill-fated criminal. Offline play is grand as well, though without a large HDTV expect three or four player splitscreen to be a squint-fest. Single player isn’t nearly as exciting, but it’s worth checking out to at least unlock a few new rides.
Calling All Cars both looks and sounds splendid; it won’t be the game you rush your friends over to see so they can marvel at the graphics, but its cel-shaded visuals absolutely complement the style of the game. The audio is filled with wacky-sounding criminals, weapons, and environments fitting the punchy gameplay.
When it comes down to it, the game is just plain fun. It could use a few more maps and a more inspiring single player mode, but these shortcomings don’t affect the fantastic time you and your buddies will have playing it. Calling All Cars is the second must-buy title for the PlayStation Network (Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection being the first), and it certainly takes the #1 spot for the best original offering on PSN.