Recently re-released on digital storefronts, Crash Time 2 is a game that tries to converge Criterion’s Burnout Paradise with Taito’s Chase H.Q.
PROS: Visuals hold up surprisingly well.
CONS: Jerky controls, glitches, abysmal voice acting
WAIT, WHAT?: Split Screen Multiplayer.
Originally released in 2008 as Burning Wheels, Crash Time 2 is the second game in a series of five games. The last of which was released two years ago. Many players will have only recently heard of this franchise. Why? Because it was predominately marketed, and sold in European countries. With its release on Steam, Crash Time 2 finally brings the franchise to other parts of the world.
The game takes place in an open city environment, with hub tunnels connecting various areas of the city. In the game you play as a duo of police detectives who have to go on missions stopping criminals. Crash Time 2 has several modes of play. The first is a story mode that puts you in aforementioned scenarios chasing down criminal drivers. Sometimes it mixes things up by having you drive to a certain location, or alongside a certain NPC vehicle. These missions borrow heavily from Taito’s Chase H.Q. games.
You’ll spend most of the story mode chasing down criminal cars, and trying to ram them off of the road until they finally break down. The game also attempts to take a page from Criterion’s Burnout series of games by having damage modeling factor into the missions. As you drive into objects like fences, oncoming cars, or even the enemies you are tasked with bringing down, you will take damage. Windshields will crack, bodies will dent, and your wheels can even snap off of the axle. Damage will negatively affect car behavior, making maneuvering more difficult.
As you complete missions, you’ll also get access to other cars throughout the game. There are a fair number of them.
The second mode is a free-roam mode. This lets you pretty much drive around, taking things at your leisure. It’s about the best part of the game, as it’s going to let you get a good idea of where roads lead, and where you can go off of the beaten path. There are also a number of areas connected by tunnels. These load the next open section that you’re heading into. Each of these are of a fair size, and give you a decent amount of ground to explore.
Finally, there is a racing mode. This mode works essentially like the old Burnout games, in that you have a circuit of tracks against other A.I. racers, and you can force them into traffic, ram them, and such to try to destroy their cars, and cost them time. But unlike the games it steals from (It even features an instant replay when you crash or take someone down) it doesn’t reward you for driving recklessly. In fact, if you drive into oncoming traffic the game gives you a warning countdown to get back into your own lane as it doesn’t count as part of the track. As you go through this mode, you’ll unlock newer tracks, and cars.
All of this sounds pretty respectable until you actually start playing. While I’ve certainly played worse driving games, Crash Time 2 isn’t very good. This is because cars have some of the worst driving mechanics this side of early sandbox crime games. Cars always take the widest, sluggish turns. The game does have a hand brake button in addition to the regular brake button. The hand brake function in most other racing games is awesome. It makes drifting around those “L” shaped turns achievable. In this game however, it’s horrible. Unlike a good arcade racer, This makes drifting around 90 degree turns nearly impossible. Which is really bad because the criminal driver A.I can do it with ease. Even on the easiest setting with traffic set to the minimum number of cars this will be troublesome. Hand braking will almost always result in a spin out or an axle breaking car crash. Criminals get away, races are lost, and free roaming is cut short.
The game does throw in a rechargeable nitro boost to give you a chance to catch up, but chances are the A.I. will easily escape with perfect cornering after you grind a guard rail or love tap a weary traveler. To remedy this, you have a siren function the game swears makes traffic stay out-of-the-way in the loading screen tool tips. But the siren does absolutely nothing for you in practice. There is also a horn button, but again this is wasted breath.
Losses are not only infuriating, but tedious too. Rather than simply start you at a checkpoint when you’ve taken too much damage, it forces you to watch a timer countdown. As the enemies escape your range while you’re stranded with no wheels. If you’re the persistent type you will pause, and restart with every crash instead of going through this monotony. When you do hit objects, or enemy targets the game arbitrarily throws out damage point money in Euros. But this doesn’t seem to serve any practical purpose in game play.
While the car damage does look pretty cool, in practice it isn’t very good either. This is because it is FAR too easy to destroy a crucial part of the car. A minor grind up against the curb will many times cause a wheel to snap off of the axle. Even at pedestrian speeds. Sometimes you could be hit by NPC traffic, resulting in getting T-Boned, and thwarting your ability to steer. This will only serve to annoy you further.
Voice acting in this game is awful. Dialogue comes off as if the performers simply read their lines aloud off of cardboard. There are no believable performances whatsoever. The generic metal soundtrack fares a little bit better, but in time you will probably shut off most of the sounds that aren’t actual vehicle or car accident sound effects.
There is no online multiplayer in this game either. So if you are morbidly curious enough to play it, do not expect to be able to play it with friends or relatives over the internet. The game does have split screen multiplayer for whatever reason. So if you must insist on playing it with someone at the same desk you can. It also allows you to split the screen vertically or horizontally.
The game features a tutorial you can play through to try to get a hang on the basics, but with the wonky steering controls it really won’t matter. This is one of those budget titles that starts off with a bit of promise, but squanders it all with its bad controls. Even when using a gamepad Crash Time 2 isn’t very fun. The same floaty, fishtailing on even the slightest turns is still present with a controller. True, there are far worse driving games out there to be sure. But there are also many, many, better ones. Please, for your own sake, and sanity play one of those instead.
Final Score: 3 out of 10