Smash Cops Review (iOS)
This is a welcome surprise. Being burned many times by the utilization of a bad control schemes I approached Smash Cops with a fair amount of trepidation. Many mobile developers prefer reproducing, to their detriment, the control systems of console games. To be given an iPhone game to play that relies on the strengths of a touch screen interface was a great joy. It is also a reminder to other developers on how to produce simple intuitive controls that greatly benefit your game.
Smash Cops by Hutch Games is a recreation of the classic car chases that seem to provide a continuous source of entertainment on American TV. A news helicopter provides your elevated view of the action as you guide a police car through the streets in pursuit of a criminal. Your aim is to position yourself to face the sides or front of the criminals vehicle and ram them effectively immobilizing there vehicle before it can reach its “finishing line”. Rather than having to ram the vehicle a preset amount of times Smash Cops is clever enough to reward you for ramming the vehicle in violent displays of raw speed. Bumps and nudges only tickle the “enemy” vehicle while high speed angled crashes into the criminals flanks will provide slow motion crashes that hurtle the vehicle through the air and deplete a much larger portion of its “health”
The game is very reminiscent of the old Micro Machines and Grand Theft Auto games. Despite being to scale and modelled accurately I could not shake the impression that I was manoeuvring toys around to smash into one another. This is not a criticism, in fact if anything it speaks of how much it tapped into that inner child that liked nothing more than to bash, scrape and mangle two newly purchased matchbox cars into one another.
You control the vehicles movements with one finger placed directly behind your car. Movements to the left and right turn your vehicle to face that direction with larger tugs in one direction producing sharper turns by your car. When you are ready to ram a criminal you simply tap the screen in a way that feels more like a well timed execution. As if your cop partner sitting next to you is saying “wait for it, wait….. NOW!”
It is such a simple and effective method of control that it pains me even more to witness games produced with overly complex UI’s cluttering the fun below. It is not such a stretch of the imagination to envision the same game being delivered with a virtual d-pad: accelerate, decelerate, handbrake, wing mirrors, donut box and radio controls, all cluttering the action below.
The game ships with twenty missions many of which are the before mention pursuit of criminals however some are more geared towards your mastery of the controls. Navigating a course of cones to get the fastest time possible reminded me of the classic Blast Corps with inverted values. Other missions see you racing towards a finish line with a badly damaged vehicle forcing you to dodge and weave through the oncoming traffic. The missions present are well paced and fun and relatively short which is ideal for those looking for a quick few minutes of game play.
Each successfully completed mission produces a star rating much in the fashion of Angry Birds, with unlocks awarded to you once you have garnered enough stars. As can be expected this produces a lot of replay value as you tighten your grip on the control to focus on that elusive 5 star rating.
I have only two problems with the game which are niggles’ rather than game breaking blunders. Sometimes while lost in your over exuberant pursuit you can miss a turn. This can leave you at a dead stop facing a wall. Manoeuvring the vehicle out of this crash is a very time consuming process especially considering that the criminal continues on his path to the finish line. It is usually at this point that the camera, our helicopter overhead struggles to view our path ahead.
The second issue I have while playing is the moments after you successfully ram a vehicle. This process sends both your vehicle and the enemies in a particular direction. More often than not the direction you send the criminal flying is not the pre-determined path that he takes through the streets meaning that they will often double back to re-enter there preset path. The camera at this point finds it difficult to re-orientate itself as do you. My own solution to the problem is to ram and then immediately come to a full stop and allow the criminal to reorganise his stunned mind and listen to his Satnav yell at him. Once I see which direction he is taking I begin my chase once again. It is not ideal and feels a little like an unwanted side effect of the primary game play but as mentioned they are niggles and nothing more.
I hope that the game is very successful, it would be well deserved. I also hope that Hutch Games release more missions as time passes for those who have bought the game. If so I can imagine this game being even more of an essential purchase for those that have not jumped in onboard sooner. A much deserved:
8 flying fenderbenders out of 10