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Crash City Mayhem (3DS) artwork

Crash City Mayhem (3DS) review


"Once you hit the van and retrieve the watch, you then race towards the designated spot, all while being chased by police, jumping off tow truck ramps, and crashing into a parked airplane. In a Formula One car, no less."


It's a sunny day in a bayside city, its inhabitants littering the sidewalks and streets, going about their daily tasks. In your case, though, a "daily task" requires tracking down a fake police van containing a special gold watch. You must reach the vehicle before it's too late, so taking liberties with your driving space, you pop over to the opposite side of the road, plow through an open market, and smash several street lights in the process. Once you hit the van and retrieve the watch, you then race towards the designated spot, all while being chased by police, jumping off tow truck ramps, and crashing into a parked airplane. In a Formula One car, no less. Not to be outdone, a later mission has you infiltrate a base called the Dragon Fortress, and the only subtle way of gaining entry is through the back, via parachute. In a monster truck, no less. From there, you'll have to sneak past surveillance in an attempt to steal a sleek spy car that can jump... which happens to be parked beside a stargate.

With that said, Crash City Mayhem sucks. For a game so quirky and based around the concept of causing environmental damage with vehicles, it hurts to see the execution almost devoid of any type of enjoyment or excitement. It's pretty easy to pin the blame squarely on the layout of the cities being linear, since they're all just Point A to Point B in design with some shortcuts thrown in, but the game's faults extend beyond that. Sure, creating a Grand Theft Auto-style map would help a little more with replay value, but the biggest failure of the game is the complete lack of basic creativity.

The objectives sound cool in writing, but their actual presentations are ghastly sights. In the fake police van's case, all that's required is to drive towards the slow-moving target, which is not even located halfway through the map, bump into the vehicle once, and bam, the gold watch is instantly in your possession. From there, you just simply drive to the end of the map, all while police vehicles do their best to stop you. And by best, I mean perform some of the worst police car AI I've seen in a video game. When you're driving down the street and suddenly spot a cop car ahead, they mainly sit at the side until you get closer, where they'll eventually nudge forward in your general direction. You pass the car, and expect it to turn around and give chase... but instead it just gives up. This happens in every single mission.

In fact, that entire design, driving near a spot towards the beginning of the map, performing a menial task, and then driving to the end with little resistance, is reused for four out of the game's six missions. Sounds like a painful but swift suffering, until you realize each mission has four extra "variations" that unlock as you complete them, such as there being two fake police vans to check between, or beating a mission in six minutes instead of six and a half minutes! The intensity! Since they're nearly indistinguishable from the originals, most additional missions go by quickly, as well, or should if it wasn't for being forced to do mission four's variations, where you just trail a woman for 12 minutes. It's as terrible as it sounds, even when the devs try shaking it up by seeing who she's talking to, or figuring out if she's taking the subway or a helicopter.

For a game called Crash City Mayhem, I presumed the destruction element would be the highlight, even with all the other disappointments, but the offenses continue here. You'd think the devs would devise numerous, silly ways for you to cause damage while on the road, but a lot of the stuff you'll actually want to hit are placed on sidewalks, tucked beside buildings, or shortcuts. Even then, it's basically stuff like signs, phone booths, or tree pots, so you're not getting any real satisfaction out of this. You can crash into other vehicles, but more times than not, you'll spiral out of control, spending countless seconds adjusting your vehicle in a time-based mission. To the team's credit, each mission has a free roam option with no timer, damage meter, or mission structure, if that means anything to anyone.

Oddly, too, destruction actually doesn't come into play until you reach the fourth variation of five missions, where you must cause a million dollars worth of damage while also completing the mission in the time allotted. It's probably the only genuine challenge in the entire game, mainly because you have to balance how much hard damage you can take while causing havoc, not to mention the faster, selectable vehicles are more susceptible to injury. But again, it's not as fun as it should be due to the unimaginative objects, the risk of easily flipping out of control, and the nonexistent police AI. Seriously, I never thought smashing through a row of bull statues (identified as cows...) with a yellow bus, then jumping off a cliff, into a museum, and eventually line up beside my stolen car in a bid to jump back in... would be so boring.

However, the most appalling thing about this whole situation is that this isn't the first game in the series. Crash City Mayhem is actually the fifth in the Runabout series that started back on the PlayStation 1, though some of you may know the first game under its alternative name, Felony 11-79. It's shocking in a sense that the dev team for this had four prior games to look back on for experience and improvement, not to mention all the other 3D driving action games that surfaced since 1997, but they stubbornly stuck to a very basic, very bare bones title. They even reused the soundtrack from previous games, composed by the Japanese surf band, the Surf Coasters. Granted, it's a very catchy soundtrack... but that's beside the point! Crash City Mayhem is a lazy, embarrassing, unimaginative title, especially in this day and age, and if you want your mission-based driving fix on the 3DS, there's other choices.

1/5

pickhut's avatar
Community review by pickhut (June 21, 2015)

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