“I hope this game is something I will enjoy playing.”
Videogames are meant to be entertaining, to be an enjoyable pastime or distraction. We pay money to those with the abilities to produce these digital escapades and we expect to receive a fun-filled return on our investment. As the paying customer it is acceptable to expect to receive a product that fulfils our modest requirements. Smash ‘N’ Survive is a game so wholly abhorrent I can feel no less than royally screwed over my lost time.
Make no mistake about it: this is not an exaggeration. I do not wish to overstate my dissatisfaction with this utterly incomprehensibly uninteresting and unentertaining game; I sit here typing out these venom-filled words while the game’s three-chord one-song menu music thrashes about like an oxygen-starved fish that plays over the top of the ugly menus. If I look up from my laptop, I can see the game is asking me to resume a dire ‘mission’ to earn ‘bounty’ I can use to spend on 40 or so vehicles that have the creative design and quality of knock-off Micro Machines.
What makes things worse for me is that for the first few seconds, Smash ‘N’ Survive creates the illusion that you’re going to have a good time. A big monster truck-type vehicle sits front and centre on a menu screen that has the options on a tyre you turn to select. The aforementioned ear-offending Gates of Hell music kicks in and tries to set the tone as one of energy and fervour. Sadly it does the opposite, repeating itself endlessly as you begin to spin the tyre and find your options severely limited; the Extras section contains locked concept art while the options menu merely lets you see the controls, twiddle dials to turn off the now incessant racket and see the names of the people who concocted and produced what you’ll soon discover to be a foul mess.
It didn’t take me long to cast my rose-tinted glasses aside and see the shite smeared across my screen. Never before have I experienced a game with so many problems so easily identifiable. Some are huge, glaring problems that slap you in the face: abominable handling, unjustifiably arcade-style destruction physics, glaringly unintelligent AI and menu and in-game presentation are just the bigger issues that had me questioning whether this game was dug out of the ashes of a previous generation.
“The self-imposed incentive to play was to ward off potential buyers; consider this review a ‘Do Not Enter’ sign whacked furiously into the ground.”
Other problems are less vulgar but similarly prevalent and troublesome: the story is near non-existent, tacked on to mission objectives to unnecessarily give the action some substance, the loading times are often sluggish, the monetary system that lets you purchase things is constructed in so poorly a manner that its presence has no effect on your intended desire to win; the menu fonts are harsh on the eyes, at least one of the error-filled help messages could have benefited from a double-check while the destruction physics for both cars and environments suffer from similar inadvertence, and the HUD system seems lifted straight from a budget game template.
The flame animations are horribly basic, the textures are in need of some anti-aliasing, mission completions/failures strip away the feeling of achievement/consequence by simply throwing you to a menu screen after telling you briefly whether you won or lost; none of the maps look or feel inventive, some sort of dirt-based frame akin to the blood frames in Call of Duty cover the edges of the screen not only in introductory ‘cut-scenes’ but also at random points in missions.
Furthermore, if you fail one of these missions the restart option does not in fact restart the mission as promised but flings you back to the main menu, thus meaning you have to plough through the menu layers to give it another go. Unsurprisingly there are bugs that plague this game too: the AI occasionally does things it shouldn’t ever do, my icon on the mini-map when on the outskirts of a level shows me as being off the beaten track when clearly not; one mission that tasked me with destroying another vehicle ended without me touching it, a baffling moment which only served to compound the miserable experience had with this game.
I would consider Smash ‘N’ Survive to be right up there as one of if not the worst game I have experienced of this gaming generation. Here is a game so thoroughly and inexplicably sub-par that the mere effort of sitting down to play it for review purposes, never mind for the pursuit of entertainment, somehow became a gargantuan tribulation. The self-imposed incentive to play was to ward off potential buyers; consider this review a ‘Do Not Enter’ sign whacked furiously into the ground. Please let there be no misconceptions here: never have I felt so strongly about a game’s quality or lack thereof. This game has no saving grace or forgivable flaws: neither smashing nor surviving is of any redeeming value and everything in between is just equally repugnant in design and appeal.