There are some games on a console’s library that make other games look fantastic in comparison. Games that are well thought out, but are poorly executed in contrast to other games. One example of this is none other than Crash City Mayhem, a driving game for the 3DS. On face value it seems to be one of those underestimated titles that could shine through, however this game just fails to deliver anything close to a fun experience. How hard can the game crash into the city streets? Let us strap on our safety belts and ride on in.
The story in this driving title is pretty bland and slapped together with super glue. It involves you, a hired courier, taking on missions around the city in order to earn a wealthy series of pay checks. The story tries too hard to immerse the player into the world when a narrative isn’t even necessary in a game like this. The characters are easily forgettable, the plot points are boring and the game doesn’t even engross the player as the courier. Instead of placing you into the role of the courier directly, first person experience, you are playing as a character that is a courier. This immediately takes away from the immersive feel of the game. If it was you behind the wheel and not a different pair of hands, the narrative could have become immensely stronger.
The narrative is driven by the core purpose of the gameplay, mission-based events that you must complete in order to continue the story. The missions have a variety of different tasks for the player to complete that must be done within a time limit. However, these missions fall short as you must repeat the same missions multiple times with either different stipulations or a harder difficulty to progress. This increases the replay value and the games overall length but at the cost of making things very repetitive and boring. You’re forced to play the same maps and the same missions over and over again just so you can either earn a perfect score or unlock the next mission. This makes the game feel sloppy when a lot more imagination and creativity could be used to help spread out the missions.
Gameplay felt really awkward in places, especially when it came to driving the car. Drifting works about fifty percent of the time as you must turn the corner, break and then, as you’re braking, turn in the different direction to cause a drift. This is incredibly awkward to pull off in comparison to other driving games and this makes even the simplest of corners almost impossible to turn perfectly whilst driving at high speed. On top of that you have the Burnout-style mechanic of ‘Crashing into anything is fine’. I am normally a fan of mechanics like this but it normally comes with the caution of potentially destroying your car. As you crash around the city, bumping into obstacles, cars and walls, you will notice that your cars durability will never get above fifty percent. With no caution, you can easily stream through a majority of these missions with ease.
The controls for the car are solid as you use the B button to accelerate and either the Circle or D-pad for steering, but the one big problem was reversing. In some cases you will get into a situation where you accidentally bump into a wall and need to reverse out. In a majority of titles, it is as easy as pressing a different button for reversals in comparison to the acceleration button. For Crash City Mayhem this is not the case however, as in order to reverse you need to press the D-Pad down until your car is set into reverse. Then you can hit the accelerator and go about reversing. Just remember to hit the D-Pad up again to set your car into a driveable gear as you may accidentally go into neutral, stopping your car dead in its tracks. These awkward controls make a fast-paced game feel incredibly tedious and slow, stopping the flow dead in its tracks.
The music in Crash City is cool the first few times you hear it, but very quickly you will realise that you’re listening to the same few tracks over and over again. On top of the repetitive music, there is also a really poor set of sound effects. It is understandable that the 3DS may not be able to create movie quality music, however it is capable of bringing some amazing sounds into the games people play. In this case, we are given sound effects that are poorly executed with car screeches and crashes that are sounding very stereotypical or cartoony. These effects don’t match the portrayal of the game and make it feel more like a mismatched mess.
The last area to bring up is the aesthetic of the game. Sadly the graphics look very weak and make the game look poor in comparison to titles such as Mario Kart or Monster Hunter. Everything looks like a block with curved edges and you will be driving around these blocked out city streets with the most lack lustre of skyboxes on the horizon. Nothing looks appealing in the game and regrettably that includes the most important aspect of the game, the cars. If there is one thing you should concentrate on making beautiful in a racing game, it’s the cars. Sadly none of them truly stand out and they are all very blocked out and square, which is a real shame.
Overall, Crash City Mayhem is a game with good ideas and a simple mission-based storyline backed up with poor presentation and delivery. The game does not stand up to others of the same genre on the console and instead stands to be a game that makes the better titles look more appealing to the customer’s eye. With the game easy to complete in four hours or less, there is little reason to go back and play this title after your initial run. Sadly this is one of those games you would only play if you didn’t have anything else in your 3DS library. Pricing the game at £8.99 on the Nintendo Store is very harsh as personally I would pay a maximum of £2.99 for a game of this calibre.
So Crash City Mayhem crashed and burned in my eyes, but what does it do for you? Do you find many redeeming factors in the title or do you put this game to one side of the parking lot? Let us know what you think about the game in the comments below and share your experiences in the VGU forums.