Indian-based development outfit, Version2Games Limited, is a relative newcomer to the world of mainstream video gaming, and its new entry onto the Sony Entertainment Network (PlayStation Network), Smash ‘N’ Survive is somewhat of a pastiche of Burnout, Need for Speed, and Destruction Derby, whilst not really living up to the high standards set by any of those classics of yesteryear. The idea is to jump behind the wheel of various run-of-the-mill vehicles, tap into the installed nitrous tanks, and let loose at rip-roaringly fast speeds to succeed in the host of missions laid before your very eyes.
An option under the name of ‘Gamemode’ is selectable from the start, but acts only as a tease since the choices within only open up as more of the standard Campaign is completed. Therefore, backtracking to the main menu is the only alternative, instead choosing to race against friends, or try your hand at the Campaign. This entails going through the motions, competing in the first bout of ‘Checkpoints,’ being encouraged to ‘Rev It Up’ if you wish to join the Necromancers, driving around the complete circuit, accelerating and boosting hard with the Nitro to reach checkpoints in the fastest time possible whilst retaining full control over your vehicle of choice. Finishing within certain limits will serve up Gold, Silver, or Bronze awards, but due to the somewhat loose controls, mastering each of the cars that open up can prove bothersome and nowhere near as intuitive as in race efforts from British racing game development experts, Criterion and Firebrand Games.
The presentation of a game can make or break it at times, and for Smash ‘N’ Survive sadly the constant rock music in the background really does start to grate after only a few minutes, not because it is particularly bad, but more down to the fact that it is only a few seconds of music looped continuously across all menus, and the in-game race music is not much better. Visually the best word to describe it is ‘solid’; not specifically dazzling, nor awful overall, simply a ‘solid’ effort all round. For every positive note, such as chunky car design, there are several drawbacks, such as sparsely designed courses, poor collision detection, some shaky computer AI, and even surprising bouts of pop-up.
In terms of the overall meat found on Smash ‘N’ Survive’s bones, there are five key play-types available. Checkpoints is a case of all the targets dotted around the open world area must be passed in sequence in the fastest time possible. For Mosh Pit, players must survive the carnage and aim to be the last man standing, whilst receiving the minimal damage possible. Then there is ‘Boost Me Up’ that acts as more of a simple challenge stage, with gamers attempting to find all the bounty pickups scattered around the local vicinity, plus ‘Gang Wars’ where opponents must be destroyed before they have chance to disable your vehicle, which proves easier than it sounds due to poor computer AI throughout causing unusual crashes. Finally, there is the chance to ‘Find Your Mate’ by trundling along around an area, merely trying to seek the injured team member. The attempted variety is commendable, but given the limitations of the driving experience itself, Smash ‘N’ Survive struggles to move up the gears.
The racing mechanic does start to click after a while, following a long period of acclimatisation, but there is definitely something missing from the general feel of the vehicles, no matter how much players use Smash ‘N’ Survive’s customisation, or switch around between the forty cars available. Weapons do help to spice matters up slightly, but again everything feels rather lacklustre, almost as if this is nothing more than a trial run for Version2Games. Whilst sounding terribly negative, there is definitely potential here, with touches of past classics mixed together, even feeling a tiny bit like the brilliant San Francisco Rush at times thanks to the crazy air time you can get when boosting up ramps to land on top of buildings. With any luck, the team will have the chance to build upon this experience in the future. For now, though, there are many better options on the market for the asking price of £9.99/€12.99.
MLG Rating: 5/10 Platform: PS3 Release Date: 22/02/2012
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a digital copy of Smash ‘N’ Survivefor review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of two days on a PS3. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.