Genre:   Action-First Person Shooter

Developer:   Cauldron Ltd

Publisher:    JoWood

Released:  2003

PC Requirements: Windows 98SE/ME/2000/XP, Pentium III 1GHz or compatible, 256MB RAM, 32MB 3D graphic card, DirectX 8.1 or better, Windows compatible sound card, 1.3GB free hard disk space, Keyboard, Mouse




by Drizzt

Total recall was a B-movie, no doubt about that. But it was an enjoyable B-movie. So enjoyable the developers JoWood decided to make a rip-off of it and turn it into a game. Of course, it doesnít say so in the official description, but a while into the game, you can predict exactly what is going on and what movie with biceps the size of a melon they decided to base this on.

That these developers also are what created the magnificent Gothic 2 is quite stunning, with two so very unsimilar games. Gothic 2 was free, big, challenging and exciting. Chaser, on the other hand, is extremely linear, not at all as big (bit quite long for a FPS, if you count the number of levels), but almost more challenging. Challenging in the way that putting the keys back in the keyboard after a fit of rage including cursing the level-designers, their mothers and their pets. Because this is the really big problem with Chaser, but I will get back to that later.

The story is as follows: You wake up on a space ship with no memory whatsoever and people are trying to kill you. Get out of there and try to find out more about your past and why they are trying to kill you. Thatís it. The first thing you notice is that the levels are extremely linear, and most of the time, there is only one way to go. There are a few exceptions, but it is like that through most of the game.

The second thing you notice is that this is as much of a leap backwards as half-life was a leap forward.
Realism is non-existent, a physical engine is nowhere in sight and you can carry as many weapons as you want.
I was in heaven the first few levels. No thinking, just blasting. During these first episodes you sometimes experience flashbacks and memory images that occur while you are playing the game. I liked this, and would have wanted to see more of it, but my wishes went unanswered.
And after a while, my expectations went down a bit. Was still an amusing game, but nothing worth full-price (so Iím glad I didnít buy it when it cost that much).

The graphics look a little old, in many cases, but the characters still look good, despite being a bit tacky. The biggest graphical problem is the in many cases boring textures of the environment, which really could have made the game more full of life and atmospheric. This in combination with sometimes very long and linear levels make for some dull gaming where all you seem to do is running through endless similar corridors, shooting at occasional enemies.

The sound is good, but not exceptional. The weapons sound just like they should, and all the sounds of enemies gloating and shouting are there (as it should be). The background sounds are good, and makes the dull parts of the game a bit more exciting to play. A very good example of this is the level in Siberia where you have to get into a military base, running through the woods, hearing snow crunching under your feet and wolves howling in the distant, blending into the cold, biting wind. That is atmospheric for you. The sound is a bit of a countermeasure against the dull parts of the game, making it a bit more enjoyable.
And why did they have to choose a guy like he got a pea stuck up his nostril or something? I couldnít believe it was him, the tough guy John Chaser talking at first, but more figured some kid from middle school had snuck into the bar where he was. Not the case.
There is unfortunately no in-game music. At least I didnít get any. Too bad, since the music at the main menu seemed promising, very much like the Syndicate Wars-music. A game I loved. (And itís predecessor)
Controls are good, shooting tons of enemies is always fun, some very atmospheric parts, lots of and fun weapons and based on a science-fiction movie nobody in a sane state of mind can dislike. What is the catch? The levels, enough said.

I liked them at first, I must admit. They were linear and as varying as they could be in the early game. Then came the more unrealistic levels, with totally illogical ways to handle problems, and after a bit of that, the game leapt 13 years back in time. I think they tried to make it more ďopenĒ, whereas it actually came out more as Doom-style, which means you have to run around in very big levels (because the levels are huge for this type of game) looking for a switch, an access card, a toy doll, whatever trinket the developers came up with. Not fun at all. And then thereís the extremely frustrating underwater levels, where you drive a personal submarine. It wouldnít have been so bad if it actually had decent controls, but now it just feels as maneuverable as a pregnant whale.

All in all, it is actually a quite fun game now and then, with some dull parts, which means that if you are a FPS-fan and can stand running around looking for switches and the occasional keycard along with some stupid level design, this would be your game.


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