Saturday, February 13, 2010

Video game number forty two: Crash Time Autobahn Pursuit

Game review number forty two in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "Crash Time: Autobahn Pursuit".

This morning I was playing some Mass Effect, hoping to beat the game before I dive back into Mass Effect 2. About 3 hours into my game, I died and accidentally hit "load" on the wrong saved game. As a result, I ended up traveling back in time to the beginning of the planet I was playing on and lost three hours worth of progress. I was furious. I needed a break from Mass Effect after that and wanted to play something mindless and fun. I popped in a driving game I'd never heard of before. The game was Crash Time: Autobahn Pursuit.

This game is so bad that it's actually funny.

Crash Time is a terrible racing game with an awful detective story hastily stapled over the top of it. Perhaps the producer of this one was hoping the game that it might be a little more fun to play if it had a detective story. It's not. Playing this title actually made me feel sorry for the guys who developed it and had to wrestle with whether or not they should put it on their resume afterward. I imagine they don't want a 12 month gap in their work history, but at the same time....admitting you created this game must be sort of like admitting you're the one who brought the cookies to the holiday party at work that gave everyone diarrhea.

I seriously can't remember ever playing a more awful racing game than this one.

Three years ago, Toyota released a free title on Xbox Live Arcade featuring their new budget compact, the Yaris. This free game featured a Toyota Yaris that you could power up with weapons and race against other cars on twisting, crazy tracks over Xbox Live. Everyone who ever played it made fun of it and the average review score I found online for it was about a 3.0. I think until now, I might have agreed that was probably the dumbest racing game I'd ever played.

Crash Time makes Yaris look like Forza 3.

The unprecedented level of suck in this game made me keep playing it, just to see how much more terrible it could possibly get with every turn. It's like when you know the milk in fridge is rotten, but you sniff it one more time, just to make sure before you dump it. I didn't just take an extra sniff, I went scuba diving in this game before I tossed it.

As a racing game, Crash Time fails in almost every way one can. The racing engine is so horrible that it feels like it was stolen from one of those levels in a third person shooter where they tack on a "Driving level" just to spice things up. In fact, there are third person shooters I've played recently that have been more fun to drive in. Grand Theft Auto, Mass Effect and the Saboteur all pop immediately to mind. I could name a dozen more if pressed.

The cars in this game handle the same at 2o KPH as they do at 220KPH. Whether you're driving down the freeway, or in the middle of a corn field (which I did) feels like you're on a big sheet of glass. There is absolutely no feedback from the environment or the car at all. Remember "Hard Drivin" in the arcades and on the Sega Genesis, where it barely felt like you were touching the road? It's feels sort of like that, only not nearly as fun.

No matter which car you are driving, the engine has no redline. You can accelerate until you run out of road. I drove a jeep over a dirt road at 140 and it felt exactly the same as driving the BMW clone on the freeway at 280KPH. By the way, when I was going 280KPH in the BMW...I was chasing a Mini Van, in traffic...and barely catching up to it. More on that in a minute.

I should briefly cover the "plot". You are some sort of rookie detective, solving crime somewhere in the vicinity of the autobahn. You never actually SEE this character, except of course as a mannequin in the drivers seat....but he talks, and his lines are captioned on the screen. The voice acting seems like it was done by anyone they could find around the office that day. I apologize to any of the people involved with putting this game together. Maybe the company gave you a six dollar budget and you had to improvise, but it shows.

The in game music sounds like the kind of generic rock instrumental you might find in the middle of a sex scene of an early 1990's VHS porno movie. Not that I've ever watched one of those. I'm not sure if these are supposed to be different tracks, but it really sounded like one track that repeats over and over again on each level. A few levels in, I really couldn't stand the music anymore...and turned on my own custom soundtrack instead. Usually, I only use this after I've heard the in game soundtrack a few too many times on a great game. This time around, it took me only a few minutes before I needed it.

As I mentioned before, you're a cop...although you can't really tell from the gameplay. You have no gun, so you can't shoot out of the window and you also can't get out of the car. The only way to stop a perpetrator is to ram them over and over again until their car blows up. You have to make sure your car doesn't blow up first. I suppose that part is kind of realistic, except you can ROLL the opponent car three or four times...and it will keep going. Stopping cars by crashing into them with your 90,000 dollar BMW is ridiculous. One mission had me chasing a mini-van at speeds of well over 200KPH. Forgetting for a moment how stupid this was, I still tried to run it off the road anyway. I managed to flip or crash it at least 5 times, but it was still not at 100% damage. My indestructible car was only at 10% damage, which was nice. I finally stopped the van by slightly grazing the right bumper, which took it to that magic 100% stopping point.

Sometimes you drive cop cars that have a siren. You can turn the siren on, but no one stops or pulls to the side for it. It's one of those annoying European sirens and the sole purpose seems to be to drive the player insane. If you accidentally turn it on during a follow mission, it will END the mission, almost instantly.

You occasionally have missions that send you from point A to point B. Unfortunately, there are no waypoints or GPS, so you have to navigate by trial and error. Be careful though, driving the wrong way in traffic automatically restarts the level instantly, without warning.

The map is impossible to read, and you're often asked to chase people towards specific landmarks that aren't listed anywhere. You're just supposed to know where "the train station" is...because, love this game so much that you've memorized the maps.

Overall score? 1/10. TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE game. I still liked it better than Blood Bowl, but that's the lowest possible hurdle for any game I will play this year (or ever).

Here are a few achievements I earned. Notice the one for driving 280kph...I did that on the freeway. In traffic. That's 174 miles per hour, folks. Fine if you're playing Burnout Revenge...but not "realistic" cops and robbers.


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