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Preview: Crash Time 4 – The Syndicate

Unless you live in Germany, there’s a high chance you haven’t heard of the Crash Time series. Known as Alarm fur Cobra 11 in its hometown, the games are based on a German television show of the same name.  The two main characters, Semir and Ben, return for their fourth outing and must hunt down a crime syndicate and stop all their criminal actions across the city and the high speed tarmacs of the Autobahn. PQube offered darkzero the chance to get early hands-on play of the game before it comes out on April 27th in the UK.

Having spent a few hours in the Career mode, it’s clear to me that the series is inspired or at least similar in design to the Driver series created by Ubisoft owned development team, Reflections. You never get out of your car; all the action requires you to drive to locations and pick up missions, be it story related or not. If you don’t want to explore, you can simply use the map and warp to key areas.

Missions so far have been mostly predictable for this type of game. It covers objectives like following a car to a specific location, tailing the vehicle slowly so that the driver doesn’t notice he’s being followed. Another one was racing down the Autobahn trying to stop two guys who were taking part in some sort of syndicate drug dealing. The mission kicked off with me having to drive to their location. Once arriving, things spiced up and the game let me control a mini remote control drone car and plant some explosives close to them, spooking them and initiating the chase.

One thing different that Crash Time does with its gameplay is that you have to capture the offenders. Normally, you’d just ram them until the car is destroyed. However, in Crash Time you have that option, but it takes longer. The best way to arrest fools once you’ve spun out their car is to park yourself in front of them. If you manage to keep the criminal there for five seconds, the chase will end and you will have arrested the driver who thought he was above the law.

Free roam is something newly added to the series. If you feel you just want to take a leisurely drive around the city then that’s fine, sometimes it will result in you finding side missions to complete. After getting to a specific point in the career, you are given the option to install cameras around the city so that you can spot any illegal activity or help you find information about the syndicate. Taking missions from the public will also let you have more informants looking out for you. An early side mission had me delivering a bratwurst for a fast food vender’s husband in exchange that she kept a look out for some wanted criminals.

Hopefully, the game can keep mixing up its mission structure because the game could become repetitive with the same mission ideas over and over again. There certainly seems to be plenty to do as there is a stat menu filled up with information on your accomplishments. Right now, it’s telling me that there are 30 active syndicate members on the roads and I need to arrest them. Another stat is saying that the syndicate owns 95 locations on the map, and I need to force the possession of the land back onto the police side.

Crash Time 4 is a budget title, but, with that said, the graphics and environments aren’t that shoddy at all. The location where the game is set is reasonably detailed with distinct landmarks flourishing the city, making it more than a repetitive construction of houses and trees.  It can feel a little empty because there are no pedestrians that walk around. The game makes a joke about this on the loading screen, saying the reason they aren’t around is because you’re too dangerous for them, and, with the amount of crashes that happen in this city, it’s somewhat true. Car models, while not real, are extremely close to the point where you can tell what is being represented. The standard car looks like a BMW and other cars you can drive look like certain famous sports cars. I’m guessing licensing issues is due to the destruction, since you can mess up your cars pretty bad, with bonnets and other parts not safe from the power of car chase collisions.

If you’re looking for something to itch that driving feeling after finishing up the brilliant Driver: San Francisco, you might want to keep an eye out for Crash Time 4. While it doesn’t offer the same big budget effect as that game, it still seems fun, with arcade handling so that anyone can pick this up and play.  It’s coming soon, so here’s a trailer to show off some of the features.