Review: Smash Cars
Developer: Tik Games-Creat Studios
Release Date: August 20th, 2009
Players: 1-6 (Online only)
What I liked:
- Some interesting gameplay mechanics.
- The games stunt feature which you can perform after launching from big jumps.
What I disliked:
- The driving system feels squirrely, touchy and sometimes unforgiving much like a real RC car.
- Graphics and presentation are dry and not very appealing.
- No split screen modes.
- Difficulty curve ramps up significantly early on.
Smash Cars encourages the player to smash, stunt, and boost over the competition, and the developers got one and a half out of three on that one. Boosting is fun when you’re jumping over large objects and over other opponents. Stunt feels good when you’re twirling your car over some serious airtime in slow motion (and earning up to five stars in the process, which will give you boost upon a successful landing), but not so much when you’re trying small tricks as you race along a straight road. And smashing is all but broken here, as attempting to smash boxes (earning you boost) simply slows you down too much to be worth going for, and smashing other cars can make you skid out of control.
The controls in this game, by the way, accurately portray driving an RC car, which is simply not fun in a video game. Whenever I got caught on a piece of scenery, I knew that first place or anything other than a bronze medal was going to be out of the question thanks to the unforgivable difficulty this game can throw at you.
But the game tries to offset this with secret shortcuts within levels that the AI doesn’t usually take, allowing you to get ahead of the competition. I was having a fairly fun time until I got to a time trial on the dock track. And that’s when I couldn’t go any further. No matter what I did, I was missing the bronze by eight seconds. I tried the three different classes of cars. I tried looking at the track, inch by inch, for a secret shortcut I was missing. I tried stunting the hell out of my car for extra boost, which was impossible as it’s a simple oval shape track with few objects. I know I don’t suck at playing games, but this game has literally made it impossible for me to get past this level, which seems to still be fairly early on in the game. Ugh.
The whole package feels a bit cheap as does the presentation (it was originally a budget PS2 game of the same name), and the lack of any split screen modes is just nuts. $15 makes this game tough to recommend, and the usually great Creat Studios hasn’t done much with this game to match up to their pedigree so far (Cuboid, Magic Ball). What a shame.
This game was purchased for review purposes.