Reviews for Crash Time 4: The Syndicate

70

The cult series keeps on giving.

cavalcade | Dec. 13, 2012 | See all cavalcade's reviews »

The Crash Time series has always been a thing of wonder. Based on a German TV program (Alarm für Cobra 11) with terrible acting and terrible plots but one absolutely amazing stunt each episode the games have always been an amusing blend of "just-about-OK" driving and some breathtakingly poor voice acting.

Early in the series (Cobra 11, Cobra 11 - Nitro) the game was more about peculiar, bitty, tasks, doled out from a list menu. The games were content light and rather simplistic. By the time the majestic Crash Time 3 was reached the developers had shoehorned in a living, breathing open world to drive about in. yes, you still had the same slightly strange, bitty tasks to do, but now they were being handed out in a more imaginative way.

Technically the series had arrived - while the voice acting was still jaw-droppingly poor (often with entire scenes playing out with a single non-native English speaking voice actor doing ALL the characters) the actual fundamentals of the gameplay had been tidied up. It looked good, it played well and (while you could hear the barrel being scraped for ideas on missions which worked without allowing you to leave the car), it was most importantly fun.

Crash Time 4 evolved the game series further, moving into a dangerous new area of competency, but also perhaps shedding some of the lo-fi archaic charm of its predecessors. Positively speaking it's open world. There's vehicles to unlock, lots of things to do, it looks pretty and the driving model is solid and fun.

Yes, the design is a little bit incoherent and unfocused, the cutscenes unskippable (even if you've seen them before) and the tasks you have to perform become increasingly repetitive, but fundamentally there's a decent game starting to emerge here. A game quite unlike any other. Yes, you have your Midnight Clubs and Burnouts, but none are set in Europe in the land of the bratwurst. The strange air that perhaps you're hallucinating the game while stuck in a bar in Munich under the influence of alcohol is a key differentiating factor between this and a slew of Need For Speed imitators. It's weird. But it's GOOD weird.

The question is - should you jump in here, or earlier in the series? Well, I'd probably recommend this or 3 as a starting point. The old games are still fun, but are completely outpaced by the developments in the later entries in the series. While this doesn't have quite the cult air that surrounds Crash Time 3, it's almost certainly the better game of the two - so you could argue it's a good place to get stuck into the exciting life and times of a Cologne based traffic policeman.

And how often have you dreamt you could do exactly that?