Based on the popular German TV cop show Alarm for Cobra 11, Crash Time is a racing game featuring ‘investigations’ in what can loosely be called an open world. But the name is a lie. Crash Time is no cobra; it’s a python that squeezes the fun out of racing. The latest title in Activision’s splurge of budget releases is one of their better offerings, but those tears of laughter won’t console you much when you see FlatOut Ultimate Carnage for half the price.
The main issue is Crash Time’s schizophrenic rules. One mission you’ll be dodging between oncoming traffic, the next you’ll earn yourself an automatic fail for taking a wrong turn. The lack of a map is simply inexcusable and thanks to on-screen arrows which are frequently wrong you’ll be restarting missions more than once. We criticized Burnout Paradise for a lack of race directions but, next to this, Paradise’s navigation is as challenging as NASCAR’s.
Tailing enemies is a task made difficult thanks to some pretty harsh distance restrictions, and when you’ve got to stop cars from escaping, the game can fail completely. We were feeling pretty smug once we’d boxed in one criminal and set about damaging his car to reach the 100% target. That is, until he respawned 250 metres away - well beyond the 180 metre escape limit - and we faced a ‘Mission Failed’ screen. Again.
It all feels so unfinished. You’ve got to question whether the development team has even heard of hi-definition, or if they quite grasp the concept of an open world when some roads end in mid-air and your car flies into the ether without notice. But scrape beneath the layers of Crash Time and there’s still something perversely enjoyable to be found. The variety isn’t fantastic - you’re always chasing someone or hitting checkpoints - but somehow the ‘so bad it’s good’ rule applies.
Plot development (if we can even call it that) is horrendously funny thanks to the worst voice acting we’ve ever had the displeasure of hearing and ‘stories’ that make no sense whatsoever. It’s a budget game that’s still overpriced, but it’s good for a giggle and it’ll make you appreciate Burnout Paradise even more than you do already. Every cloud and all that.
June 3, 2008