When I received this game the box did not fill me with hope. It struck me as being one of those games that you’d find in the cheap bucket at a well-known supermarket. The idea of 70 ‘fascinating’ missions was not hugely inspiring, especially given the sparse nature of the rest of the information on the back cover, and the lack of a car licence didn’t help. And then there was the name: Crash Time. I mean, come on.
Anyway, it turns out that this does have a licence, of sorts, from a German TV show not dissimilar to our own Police, Camera, Action! – but without any of the intelligence, moral values or decent voice acting. In fact I couldn’t really work out what the TV show was about, or whether it was real – it was just lots and lots of cars being wrecked. The programme is called Alarm for Cobra 11, so it might be fiction. Or it might not. Frankly it doesn’t really matter as it’s clearly insane.
The other off-putting thing was that this was going to take up somewhere around the 4GB mark on my hard disk. As you can imagine, installation is not a quick process, even with a brand-new top-of-the-range, er, DVD drive. When the progress bar had finally made its way across the screen I asked the game to start…and it didn’t. My Internet connection went mad, but no game. So I started it manually from its program group, and was presented by a front-end which only heightened my sinking feeling that this could be dreadful. Then I started playing.
Task number one was to apprehend a traffic offender. I chased after him, got behind him and then realised that I had absolutely no idea what I was supposed to next. Reading the manual through didn’t help, so I turned to watching YouTube videos of Alarm for Cobra 11. This gave me more of an idea, namely to run the guy off the road, Chase HQ-style. So tried. And failed. And tried. And failed. And tried. And failed. And I will admit that I was just about to give up when I ran up the back of him, sandwiched him between two other cars and suddenly found myself being whisked off to the next part of the ‘case’. So I did something right.
The other missions I encountered were of the ‘race against the clock’ variety. Being rubbish at driving games, I failed them all repeatedly. However, I did have fun whilst doing it. The scenery is beautifully detailed, the potential for carnage is massive (although the plot seems unsurprisingly unconcerned with this) and the feeling of speed is excellent. I have no real background in racing games and I suspect that helps – no doubt this will invite comments from fans of Gran Turismo and the like of “OMG Thiz iz so LAMERRRRRRZ!!!!!!!!!”.
As crashes are the order of the day, regardless of what crime-related storyline might be there, you get to see your best mash-ups in instant replay. This shows off the physics, which are not perfect but have an amusing quality that simply ‘goes’ with the rest of the game. Large explosions are de rigeur if you get it right, sparks flare off central reservations when you decide that you can fit between that barrier and that lorry (and you can’t) and bits of car go, quite honestly, all over the place. I had a wonderful moment with a loaded car transporter, although flying off a bridge into a ravine didn’t have quite the effect I thought it would, e.g. certain and fiery death. But hey, it’s a game, and the Reset Vehicle key has much to answer for.
As mentioned above, there is no licence here. That doesn’t stop some amazingly obvious rip-offs of every car Germany has ever seen, so you probably won’t notice. Your first car IS a Merc, you WILL see a Porsche Carrera, and that IS BLATANTLY a VW Golf. This company who made this is responsible for various other driving games which did have the ‘proper’ cars, so they’ve just nicked their own artwork it seems.
In Germany this will be huge. The only reasons Brits should play it will be to trash up German drivers in a police car and laugh at the word “Ausfahrt”. In fairness, Crash Time is probably crap. But for £14.99 it’s entertaining crap. And I quite like it. However bad the actors and the manual are. So there.