With Twisted Metal back on the scene and promising buckets of vehicular depravity there has been something of a rush to market with copycat titles seeking to capitalise on its popularity. Smash ‘n’ Survive is one such game from fledgling studio Version2 Games. Version2 Games was born out of a simulator development company, Zen Technologies Limited in 2010 and is based in Hyderabad, India. I’m telling you this, because Smash ‘n’ Survive may well be the first Playstation 3 game out of India, so it deserves the benefit of the doubt when it comes to fit and finish.
Unfortunately Smash ‘n’ Survive isn’t just a little rough around the edges. It’s infuriatingly terrible in so many ways that it boggles the mind how something of such poor quality made it onto PSN. The game works, and doesn’t appear to crash, but is so full of frustrations and glitches that it’s effectively unplayable.
At this point you may be wondering how a company that specialises in designing simulators could fail so catastrophically at producing a game. I don’t know the answer to this question, but I suspect the art of designing simulators and the art of designing games are two things that are further apart than even Zen Technologies Limited realised… thus the mere fact that they’ve successfully brought a game to PSN should at least be applauded and, hopefully, they’ll polish the game up into something tolerable.
Smash ‘n’ Survive appears to be your basic vehicular combat affair, you get to choose from a set of weapon-equipped vehicles which you cannot change the load-out of, and take your choice to the battlefield in a sort of rock-paper-scissors game of effectively countering whatever scenario and enemies the game sees fit to throw at you.
The game is marred by every single annoyance and flaw you could care to imagine, from endlessly looping infuriating metal music in the title and menu screens, to hangups after seemingly every option picked whilst the game autosaves. Customising a car, for example, a process that extends only to the vehicles aesthetics ( read: airfix bodykit ) results in the game saving after every, single, change. This is so immensely frustrating that you’ll quickly avoid this non feature like the plague, if for some reason you don’t avoid the game altogether.
When the game starts, you’re greeted by thoroughly sub-par graphics, but graphics aren’t everything… right. Well, if the gameplay were even remotely decent they’d be forgivable. But S’N'S fails on that count, too.
Attacking other vehicles with your limited weaponry is a chore, and the best strategy is normally to get in the biggest car you have available and hope for the best. Your attacks aren’t helped much by glitchy physics and maddening action cameras, either. Just touching an enemy car with your weapons running ( if they’re spinny blade things ) will result in a close-up camera of your weapon doing damage to your opponent. Often the camera will go into this mode at the slightest touch, usually showing nothing more than your weapon spinning uselessly against empty air. Attempting to drive whilst constantly having your perspective shifted to this camera is somewhat difficult to say the least.
Then there are those glitchy physics. I tries a mission in which I had to chase down another vehicle, on more than one occasion it managed to “glitch” or “teleport” through solid rocks and continue on down the road… leaving me miles behind wondering why on earth I’m still tolerating the awful game.
These problems are just the surface of the awfulness that constitutes Smash ‘n’ Survive. If you ever manage to defeat an enemy you’re treated to a weedy, low-fi explosion that actually looks worse than those in Interstate ’76; a game released FIFTEEN YEARS AGO. Actually, if you want a plot-driven, well characterised, quirky, fun, and painfully simulator-like car combat game and have a PC I recommend you try Interstate ’76, it’s a classic.
Smash ‘n’ Survive, however, should be avoided at all costs.