Maximum Force is a light gun shooter that is the follow-up to the arcade and console smash hit game Area 51. It has been developed by Atari Games and published by Midway for the Sega Saturn and it puts you in role of a top counter- terrorism agent who has uncovered information about three new terrorist organizations, Ground Zero, the Fiduciary Liberation Front and the Somnolia Cartel, who plan to not only unleash worldwide terror, but they even have plans to assassinate you.
There are three levels that you must go through in order to beat the game, with each having its own unique theme, enemies and hostage characters. The areas are basically a beach area, a building, and a tropical rain forest. The enemies and hostages consist of both female and male characters, which vary from stage to stage, with many of the female hostages wearing very skimpy bikinis or sexy outfits. The basic gameplay is just like what you have come to expect in light gun shooters, shoot and kill the bad guys and do not shoot the annoying hostages that continuously jump in your way at the worst times. Of course, for those of you that gain pleasure out of shooting the hostages, you can do so, you will just lose a life.
The play mechanics in Maximum Force are basically the same in Area 51 as they both play very similar and have the same basic weapon power-ups, a machine gun and shotgun. And just like in Area 51, Maximum Force features a lot of different bonus levels, 30 in total, that are opened by shooting various objects. The levels are varied and will have you riding an ATV and an underwater vessel to help bring up the intensity of the gameplay, but the enemies and hostages pop-up in the same exact spot and time every time you play the game. This is true with just about all light gun games, but the problem is hurt more in this game because unlike the polygonal based light gun games where depth has been added by body- specific hits and multiple hits, once you shoot an enemy character in Maximum Force, he or she simply explodes into a pile of blood.
I tried the game out with Sega's Stunner, the Cobra Light Gun, the Virtual Gun, and a few other light guns and the game works well with all of them. In fact, I found that the Sega Saturn version of Maximum Force seemed a bit more accurate with the guns that worked on both systems. The game is also compatible with the standard Sega Saturn controller, but if you really want to enjoy this or any other light gun game, you should really buy a light gun.
The graphics in Maximum Force consist of a seamless blend of pre-rendered backgrounds and digitized animation to produce a really realistic looking effect. The backgrounds are actually FMV, which proves to be a problem for the Saturn version when compared to the PlayStation version because of the Saturn's weakness in the area of full motion video. The general look of the entire game and the cinematic cut-scenes look like below average Saturn FMV clips and are very grainy and include a lot of blotches. Otherwise, the backgrounds are nicely detailed and fully interactive as you can shoot and damage just about everything on screen. The characters in the game, both enemy and hostage, are digitized fairly well, but are still a bit grainy and slightly less detailed than the PlayStation version.
The sound in the game is also pretty average, as is the game's music. Each of the different guns all have their own specific sounds and when you kill enemy characters, each of them have their own particular sound the make when the explode.
What it really comes down to is that Maximum Force just does not cut it when stacked up against the polygonal light gun games like Virtua Cop and Virtua Cop 2 because of the lack of depth and it is hurt by the same replay value problem that plagues all light gun games in general. If you really must have another light gun game or you are truly a fan of the arcade version and would like to experience it at home, go ahead and pick it up. Otherwise, stay away from Maximum Force, as it is fun to play through once, but that is about all you will get out of it.