Maximum Force is an on-rails light gun first-person arcade game developed by Mesa Logic for Atari Games in 1997. In 1998, Atari Games re-released the game as part of one machine called Area 51/Maximum Force Duo that also included Area 51, and later ported the game to both the PlayStation and Sega Saturn game consoles with the latter version sold as Maximum Force: Pull the Trigger.
Like its predecessor Area 51, Maximum Force is notable for its use of digitized video stored on an on-board hard disk, and the bizarrely contrasting unrealistic gibs into which every enemy blows apart when shot, in exactly the same way. While enemies, innocents, and explosions are 2D digitized video sprites, the levels and vehicles are pre-rendered in 3D.
Throughout all three levels, there are over thirty secret games and rooms that can be unlocked by shooting certain items, killing a certain number of terrorists, and so on. These games are usually target practice, and can help increase the player's total score.
Throughout the game, the player(s) play the role of an unnamed counter-terrorist agent who engages in three major combat zones. These areas are under siege by terrorists and the player must fight his/her way through to complete the level, killing the terrorists before they take aim and fire at the player. While fighting terrorists, the player must identify the terrorists from numerous hostages who show up out of nowhere in the gameplay. Killing hostages or getting shot by terrorists will cause the player to lose lives. After four hits are taken, the player must refill their credits or the game is over. Players can have a maximum of seven lives in the PlayStation home version.
There are several power-ups in the game, such as rapid-fire mode for the player's gun or a powerful single-shot mode. Also, shooting windows, barrels, cars, and other objects will increase the player's score.
The first stage of the game is the seizure of a large container freighter. The naval special forces (in blue uniforms with balaclava) and their boat come under fire from red Hind chopper gunships. The quick-thinking player uses the deck harpoon gun and aims it at the gunship's main rotor, bringing it down.
The player must fend off gunmen and helicopters on the deck, while dealing with the occasional boats full of gunmen that pull aside the freighter. Afterwards, the player must dive underwater through a minefield while evading homing torpedoes in order to reach the enemy base. Eventually, the player reaches a weapons stockpile on a beach and fights his/her way through to an underground laboratory. The player must fight their way to a commandeered helicopter and protect the scientists. The level ends with a briefing saying that an enemy stash of plutonium was secured and the player ascends the shaft and flies off as the lab blows up.
The second stage involves a massive bank robbery. Though the police surround them, a squad car is blown up by the missile launcher of a besieged robber. Backup is needed and the SWAT truck (a black sixteen wheeler) and other police reinforcements arrive on scene, though their deployment is complicated by a pile-up in front of the bank's .
The player first must clear out the robbers outside of the bank, where civilian traffic has been halted and where some robbers have taken refuge among several buildings. Then the player enters the burning bank while evading men driving on motorcycles inside the structure and grenades. When the player reaches the roof, they must fight their way to a friendly helicopter. Unfortunately, the first helicopter is destroyed by a falling crane, and the player does battle with an enemy helicopter. When the player finally does escape, they fly off as the roof explodes, with a briefing saying that the bank safe is secured.
The final stage takes place in a jungle. The player's plane is shot down and he must fight through the jungles while avoiding fellow friendly commandos and scientists. Then they reach a large research facility that is being run by the drug cartel, with the plan being to ship the drugs in tanker trucks (similar to the 007 film Licence to Kill). The player runs into crashing planes and gunmen on humvees.
Soon enough, the player has to fight their way through a large mine shaft and must shoot eight molotov cocktails. At the end, he then climbs up a tunnel to the surface, to emerge at the top of a mountain overlooking a large mansion located within a clearing in the jungle. It is apparently the home of the cartel leader. The player, who is now unmasked as a bearded mustached Caucasian man with dark hair, takes out a portable missile launcher and fires a rocket that destroys the complex, presumably killing everyone inside.