Or don’t smash and maintain your no claims bonus…
Some days I just get up and feel like I need to take a car and smash it into other cars. Don’t panic, the feeling usually wears off before I get behind the wheel of my own car, and besides, I mean in a video game way. Vehicular destruction games are a firm favorite of mine, and perhaps the only reason why I still have a license, but in recent years quality examples of vehicular mayhem have been few and far between. Maybe Smash ‘N’ Survive, developed by Version2Games on PSN, can scratch this particular four-wheeled itch?
Sadly, things do not start well. Leaping into the campaign mode, I am greeted by a largely forgettable storyline (I forget what it was about) which makes some attempt to string together a bunch of missions. With your starter vehicle, you take on missions in order to earn points and get better cars, all of which it must be said look really nice. To begin with, the player has access to just standard cars, but as they progress in the campaign, the vehicles start to come with mounted weaponry, a feature they should add to cars in the real-world. There is also a level of customisation in the game, where the player can alter their car in a purely aesthetic way, with absolutely no effect on them in the game.
The missions consist mostly of destroying everyone else, with the occasional race or token collecting objective trying to offer some variety. Although I can live without a story, or even a reason to take on these missions, the explanations for the objectives are poorly outlined and, at times, somewhat bewildering.
Beyond the campaign, players can indulge in Mission mode, in which they can make further attempts at missions they have unlocked through the campaign, and a Versus mode. Whilst playing the game online may well have given Smash ‘N’ Survive some bonus points, we will have to wait and see, as the online mode is still in development to be released further down the line. As it stands, there is only two-player local play available right now, which would be moderately enjoyable were it not for the handling.
All of the faults already mentioned, and those yet to be mentioned, could have been forgiven if the vehicles handled well. It’s not like I want much. I could have made do with ZX81 graphics and no campaign at all, as long as the vehicles were enjoyable to drive. But alas, they are not.
The cars, regardless of their stats or how much better they are supposed to be than other cars, seem to jump between unbelievably tight handling which results in the car spinning like a top, to the loosest handling possible where making a turn involves three weeks of planning. “Keep on playing”, I would tell myself, “the next car will be better”. Sadly it never was.
To compound these problems, the destructible environment is not as destructible as perhaps it should be, with pieces of scenery sometimes being smashable and sometimes not, and unexplained nudges/flips coming out of nowhere, leaving the player desperately trying to regain control. The result is a game that is far more difficult than it should be, and not particularly enjoyable.
I have already mentioned that the vehicles look good, and the environments also match. They are not ground-breakingly gorgeous or anything, but for a PSN game they don’t look too bad at all. The audio experience is another matter. Whilst the in-game sounds are suitable, the fact that each level is accompanied by the same song will likely have gamers scratching at their ears after only an hour or so of playing.
It can be safely assumed that Version2Games’ debut title is not that great. But there is the potential for Smash ‘N’ Survive to be an enjoyable romp, if given a bit more attention by the developers. But as it stands right now, I can only advise that if, like me, you are in need of some vehicular destruction, look elsewhere.