Emergency Mayhem is a game that has had quite a turbulent development history. The game was originally announced for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox at E3, 2004 and was to be published and developed by Acclaim. Unfortunately, Acclaim filed for bankruptcy in Sepember 2006 and the chances of Emergency Mayhem being released seemed slim. However, in May 2007 Warner Bros. purchased the rights to publisher the game, with Codemasters developing the game. Then finally, in December 2007 Codemasters announced that they would be publishing the game, while Supersonic Software would develop the game. So, now Emergency Mayhem is finally here, in budget form in Australia, so is the game worth the wait?
Emergency Mayhem is best described as Crazy Taxi with ambulances, fire trucks and police cars; or at least that's what we think the original plan for the game was. The game is set in Crisis City and players take control of either an ambulance, fire truck or police car and drive to destinations, completing mini games and helping out the citizens of Crisis City. Whether the player chooses an ambulance, fire truck or police car is irrelevant, the objective is the same; get to the destination and complete a mini game.
If you move the colour slider on your TV down a little and squint you may be able to convince yourself this is Crazy Taxi.
Sure, Emergency Mayhem isn't an original idea, but if the gameplay is up to scratch the originality (or therefore lack of) isn't a huge deal. It is unfortunate then that the gameplay in Emergency Mayhem isn't up to scratch. First up, the controls are pretty poor. Steering is done with the nunchuk and accelerating is done with the B button on the Wii remote. the brake button is then assigned to the A button, which is a remarkably silly system. It will take players about half an hour to adjust to this system and we spent a lot of time grappling with the brake and accelerate buttons. All three vehicles in the game handle differently, but none of them handle any well. They feel slippery and over sensitive.
Driving is however, half of the "fun" as Emergency Mayhem's main appeal is really the mini games, of which there are quite a few. Disappointingly the mini games are just as bad as the driving in the game. There may be quite a few of them, but barely any of them are enjoyable at all. Obviously the mini games are themed around the type of missions you take on, but they're remarkably unforgiving (which is unacceptable in a game aimed at a casual demographic) and they just unfortunately aren't all that fun. There are no mini games at all in Emergency Mayhem that had us hoping for more. There are dozens of mini game compilations on the Wii now and Emergency Mayhem is easily one of the worst.
It is worth mentioning that Emergency Mayhem also includes a multiplayer party mode, where the driving is cut out and the mini games are played with friends, unfortunately, as previously mentioned, the mini games are dull, so why you would want to play these mini games with friends is something we have to question.
If the poor gameplay weren't enough to put players off Emergency Mayhem, then the visuals should surely be. We can accept the fact that the game has been in development since 2004, but surely some development time could have been spent actually making the game look decent? Crisis City may be an open city and the frame rate may be up to scratch, but the game quite simply looks dreadful. Even in 2004 Emergency Mayhem would have been a poor looking title. PlayStation 2 or even Dreamcast launch titles look better than Emergency Mayhem.
The difference between the visuals in a game like this and Super Mario Galaxy is just extraordinary. Even in 2004 this game would have looked dated.
Overall Emergency Mayhem is a poor title. The driving is sub par, the mini games are boring, or overly complex and unforgiving. Anyone who is remotely interested in the game could do themselves a favour by picking up Crazy Taxi on the Gamecube and playing it on the Wii. Even though Emergency Mayhem has been released at a budget price point, the poor gameplay and questionable controls take any from any possible enjoyment anyone could have had with this game.