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Developer New Level Software Inc. Options
Distributer BMG 1 Player
Game Type Racing Memory Card
Review Date November 1997 Analog Compatible
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Setting the Scene
This game is a wonderful combination of some of the most popular titles from years gone by. Remember Paper Boy? Well take the main ingredients from that age old classic, combine it with the hazards that appeared in the cycling levels of ESPN Extreme Games, add two spoonfuls of trick moves from Cool Boarders, bring to the boil in a Twisted Metal 2 environment, simmer gently and then call it Courier Crisis. So what does it taste like? You will have to read on to find out.

Courier Crisis is a race against the clock to collect parcels which are scattered around a selection of large sprawling environments and then successfully deliver them, within an allocated time, to collect your just reward. Success reaps a financial dividend which can then be used to upgrade your transport which just happens to be a bicycle of the two wheeled variety. I suppose that means you could call this a racing game.

The game opens with the now customary quality FMV showing your cyclist collecting a package before beginning his journey through the city streets, bringing terror and mayhem to innocent pedestrians. It's short, but pretty to look at and sets the scene nicely for the game ahead.

The in-game graphics take on an appearance that proved successful in games such as Twisted Metal 2. The network of narrow city streets scroll past as you pedal forward and although the buildings are predominately flat, the level of detail is amazing. Lush green trees line the sidewalks and act as a hazard in their own right as the slightest contact will send your cyclist sprawling. Trash cans, road work barriers, stop signs, traffic signals, rubbish bins and street lights are just a few of the obstacles that are littered around each level.

Every imaginable type of vehicle has taken to the roads to provide a truly realistic environment, green saloons, red hatchbacks, police cars, refuse trucks, coaches, wagons and delivery vans are just some of the motorized hazards you must overcome.

This may be beginning to sound like it's one heck of a busy town but I have yet to mention the 'life forms'. I say life forms because not only do hundreds of humans parade the sidewalks but animals and extra terrestrials mingle freely within the crowds. Yes, you picked that up right. Strange grey aliens wander the streets and nobody turns a head. Humans are dressed according to the environment you are playing. All around the big city smartly dressed businessmen wander along with briefcases in hand while down in the lower end of town leather clad bikers mingle with punks, pimps and prostitutes.

The game is viewed from behind the cyclist at an angle that is perfect for judging every bend in the road and hazard ahead. Your rider wears a wonderful assortment of colorful sweatshirts, cycle shorts and jazzy hose. His appearance is rounded off with a tasty range of matching elbow pads and cycle hats.

Sounds and Effects
"Yeeehah!" screams your cyclist, as he sets off on his frantic delivery escapade across the city scapes. Courier Crisis is jam packed with every street sound imaginable. Cars toot their horns at the maniac driving feats of your courier before screeching to a halt and shouting obscenities. Pedestrians shout curses as you mount the sidewalk and scatter them in every direction. When you near your target, smart dressed businessmen call out "Over here" to beckon you towards them. When entering the tougher side of Skid Row the sound of gun shots can be heard all around, blending nicely with the wailing of police sirens.

Occasionally the 'commentator' will rub salt into your wounds. A late delivery will hear him brag about being able to do better himself - blindfolded, while a tumble from your bike will result in sarcastic comments such as "Did you drop something? Like your spleen" or "Did you scuff your pretty little bike?"

All of the action is backed by a selection of drum 'n' bass, beat, techno, industrial and heavy tracks that compliment the whole chaotic situation.

The game controls are straightforward enough with the option to choose from three preset configurations. There are two ways to pedal your bike, using one of the face buttons or by pressing 'up' on the direction pad. The other face buttons are set to perform a sharp turn, bunny hop and brake/reverse. The shoulder buttons, when pressed, allow your cyclist to swing a left or right hook and a sharp kick with either foot. The directional buttons serve to steer your bike around the course while a press down will result in the performance of a wheelie. Combinations of the aforementioned actions will see your cyclist perform a series of amazing stunts. The game is Analog compatible and the new pad works a treat for steering around those tight corners and tricky bends.

Courier Crisis includes five racing worlds which are Civic Centre, China Town, Waterfront, Skid Row and Industrial, however, you do not gain access to all of the worlds on the very first level. Small sections that offer two or three pickups are initially available which act as a gentle learning curve for the game, but soon you will be racing around vast sprawling environments where the slightest distraction could see you hopelessly lost, with time running down.

The rules of the game are simple. On the word go you must pedal like crazy to reach your first pick-up point while avoiding the congestion which appears all around. You are guided to your destination by an on-screen arrow that remains green as long as you are heading in the correct direction. Should you take a wrong turning the pointer will change to amber, and then red if you fail to correct your error. As you approach your pick-up target a large yellow arrow will point down to the person carrying the parcel. Cycle into them to collect. The arrow will now indicate the drop off point where a large dollar sign hovers above the recipient. This system repeats until all of the packages have been safely delivered.

Permanently displayed on the screen is a wealth of helpful information. Small icons of envelopes represent the number of packages to be collected before the level is complete. Every single street has a name which is updated with each turn, although you are hardly given the time to acknowledge this information. A running clock displays the time elapsed while a segmented compass dial determines the amount of cash you will be paid for your deliveries. As you progress through the game the city boundaries expand but your time limit gets tighter therefore you must perform a series of trick jumps over ramps to gain extra seconds. Spectacular acrobatic feats will gain you various bonuses of speed ups, health and that valuable additional time.

The opening couple of levels were over in a matter of seconds but I was soon captivated by the ever changing gameplay. With each level Courier Crisis throws more obstacles and challenging routes in your face. By the fourth level residents were grabbing hold of your passing bike, pulling you to the ground and then promptly kicking seven bells out of you. Packs of barking dogs began chasing you and jumping up at the bike to slow your progress. Once you reach the fifth level it will be impossible to make the first drop point unless you gain extra time by performing those stunts.

The levels keep coming thick and fast until you reach a point where you must spend some of your cash to upgrade your bike. Beginning with a $350 heap of cack you may enter the showroom and select any of the 15 bikes that are within your price range. The ultimate purchase is a rather cool rocket bike but that will cost around $11,000, which is an awful lot of deliveries.

Value for Money
I was a little disappointed when first loading up Courier Crisis as you are faced with a couple of levels that last all of 15 seconds. However, as the difficulty moves up a couple of notches and the city boundaries expand you become hooked by the challenge to complete a level and simply cannot put the damn game down. Furthermore the levels just seem to keep rolling in one after the other. Is this game endless?

GRAPHICS: Good Courier Crisis has that magical - just one more go - ingredient that keeps you coming back again and again. You must get to grips with the acrobatic moves otherwise the game will go from being painfully easy to excruciatingly hard in a relatively short period of time. The gameplay remains similar throughout although there is enough variation in each level to keep you mildly amused and fully occupied for quite some time.
GRAPHICS: Good This deserves to be a major hit on the PlayStation, The graphics move well, the action gets faster and crazier as you progress and the ability to earn bonuses by doing stunts on your bike adds that touch of originality sadly missing in many of the recent releases.
VALUE: Brilliant

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