Smash N Survive Review
Reviewed on Sony PlayStation 3
Another week and another racer in the world of digital downloads graces us with its presence and in a genre that could be described as a little bit oversubscribed any newcomer must stand out from the pack. Smash N Survive is not that type of racer.
Version 2 Game’s new racer is set in a vague future where you are a street racer who has joined a gang called the Necromancers and for some ill defined reasons you are competing with rival clans for control of turf. The setup is derivative at best and pointless at its worst, but that’s not to say that the plot setup couldn’t have worked. There is no overall idea of what you are achieving, you get nothing but some text inbetween missions telling you what you have to do next to put the boot into your would-be competition. Over the few hours you play the campaign mode you will have very little idea what is actually going on; what would have been a better mechanic (no pun intended) would to have had a Risk style board where you could move across a board garnering and losing control. There is no such vision here, just race after race with uninformative text trying to join them together.
Graphically the game suffers another failure and marry this with the unoriginal range of vehicles on offer and you have a few tedious hours for your eyeballs in store. For the most part the frame rate holds up not too badly, even when there are six cars on screen battling in a pit, but you would hope that it would as there seems to be very little going on with the maps themselves. It’s a shame as there are some decent tracks in play here but they are filled with dis-interesting textures, embarrassing destruction physics and more bugs than an entomologist’s backpack.
The cars themselves are beyond run of the mill, have a car or a jeep or a slightly different car or a bigger jeep, or a bigger car or a smaller jeep. To say that it is by the numbers is to give it more credit than it’s probably due. I actually booted up the PsOne racer Motorhead at one point for a comparison and in terms of design and gameplay it was amazing to see a game well over a decade old trumping Smash N Survive. Even the weapons can’t spice up the gameplay as it is very hard to even tell if they are working, fire your flamethrower at an enemy and you will struggle to tell if you are doing any damage and you may find just hurling insults at the television might have more of an effect.
The game modes on offer try to provide a variety to the proceedings but again they have little about them that you will not have seen achieved much better in a variety of other games. There is a Checkpoint mode where you will race around finding all the checkpoint markers, and can I say that you are guided by the most temperamental guiding arrow I have seen in a game in a long time. There is Mosh Pit which is basically a destruction bowl type affair, do not be alarmed when your two team-mates set off and immediately start crashing into each other as it’s a regular occurrence and throws into question the credentials you need to be a member of this group. You can also enter into a Plant the Bomb mode which will see two teams face off with the bomb carrier of each team trying to plant their bomb and holding off the opposing team from defusing it. In theory this could work but there are problems with its implementation here, firstly you can only plant the bomb in a specific location which while it seems like a sensible idea it actually kills half the fun...of which there is little.
With the maps not being overly large you can basically see where the bomb is going without much effort, if this had been a freestyle affair there could have been an exciting hunt to find the bomb. Also there is a twenty second planting time and twenty second defusing time and they seem overly long, because the area you have to plant in is so small you actually have to sit still and there is no way to defend yourself and with the maps being small it means you can never do this covertly. There are other game types you will play that riff off the likes of King of the Hill modes and even escort missions which are as bad as you may expect.
I don’t want to say there is no room for a low budget alternative to the likes of Twisted Metal but you need to do it well. It’s a shame that Smash N Survive didn’t realise its full potential as you can see what it is trying to do and I do think there is a viable market for a low budget car combat game. With not succeeding in any areas it tries to inhabit it seems Smash N Survive is destined to finish last in the race but if lessons are learned, a second chance given and a better approach developed then there could be a good game in here. Somewhere. Probably.