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Smash 'N' Survive (PlayStation Network)

Game Review

Smash 'N' Survive Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Mark Reece

Smash and desist

Chances are, if you owned a PSOne in the nineties, you will at some time have been exposed to Destruction Derby, the main selling point of which was that violently smashing rivals' cars to pieces was actively encouraged and deemed a perfectly acceptable tactic in the rush for victory. Players understandably lapped it up and, despite the series having long since given up the ghost, its premise lives on in a number of franchises that still exist to this day, with games such as Vigilante 8, Burnout and Twisted Metal all having tried their hand at vehicular combat since Destruction Derby’s 1995 launch.

Smash ‘N’ Survive — Indian developer Version2Games' debut game — takes the fundamentals laid down by Destruction Derby and attempts to mesh them together with vehicle customisation, offensive weaponry and a storyline for its own unique twist on the genre. While it’s certainly not uncommon for rookie developers to release an unexpected hit on their very first attempt, Smash ‘N’ Survive unfortunately bears all the ugly trappings of a game that was underdeveloped and underfunded.

For starters, the amount of available play modes in Smash ‘N’ Survive is pitiful in quantity. Other than Versus, Campaign mode is where the bulk of the game’s content lies, tasking you with a series of missions that are loosely tied together by a barebones plot involving gangs or something. To be perfectly frank, the game never puts ample effort into explaining exactly why you’re bombing around in cars and trying to annihilate other vehicles. There are no cut scenes, spoken dialogue or even characters on hand to flesh out the story; rather, your objectives are roughly outlined via short blocks of poorly written text that are equal parts amusing and depressing, sporting grammatical errors on a par with Zero Wing’s “all your base are belong to us” or X-Men’s “welcome to die”. Even the Trophy descriptions aren’t safe from the developer’s deplorable grasp on the English language.

Missions come in a handful of flavours, mostly entailing the violent destruction of whoever else inhabits the play area, although occasionally a challenge that involves racing through checkpoints or collecting tokens will crop up. Whatever you wind up doing, Smash ‘N’ Survive’s woefully unresponsive handling makes actually carrying out your objective far more difficult than it should be. Regardless of their stats, cars randomly fritter between spinning uncontrollably should you even contemplate nudging the analogue stick and boasting turning circles that the Moon would mercilessly mock. A wonky physics engine that seems to make up the laws of physics as it goes along confounds proceedings even further, with cars often inexplicably rolling upside-down onto their roofs or launching into nausea-inducing airborne corkscrews with seemingly no provocation.

Additionally, for a game that prides itself so vocally on destructible environments, Smash ‘N’ Survive has an extremely limited view on what objects obstructing your path can be rammed out of the way, leading to moments of sheer frustration as you plough your car headlong into a fence — deceptively flimsy in appearance — only to come to a shuddering halt. The ropey physics and inconsistent destructibility are accompanied by haphazard collision detection that will frequently have you helplessly beached on even the smallest of objects; an inconvenience that Smash ‘N’ Survive’s idiotic AI opponents also recurrently fall foul to, often becoming lodged on a rogue lamp post or futilely and endlessly accelerating into a boulder.

Should you find your substantial circle of friends too unmanageable and wish to thin out their ranks a little, Versus mode fails to make the entire experience any more bearable, exhibiting all the same unforgivable faults present in the campaign, and is a sure fire way to ensure your peers will never want to speak to you again. On a bewildering side note, despite the blurb splashed all over the Internet for Smash ‘N’ Survive clearly mentioning the inclusion of online play, the option to take the fight to other drivers over PSN is nowhere to be found.

Smash ‘N’ Survive’s inability to deliver a cohesive level of environmental destructibility for players to rely on and utilise to their advantage is hampered further by its dark, drab aesthetic and lack of visual aptitude. The handful of arenas and city locales included are all flat and blandly textured, and the cars themselves are uniformly blocky; the charred, burnt-out wreckage of defeated combatants being eerily reminiscent of those charcoal blocks your dad puts on the barbecue. Amazingly, despite its utter lack of graphical competence, Smash ‘N’ Survive still struggles to maintain a steady framerate even when the action is at an absolute minimum, slowing to an out-and-out unplayable crawl should a vehicle explode in a pixelated shower of yellow and orange squares.

Aurally, Smash ‘N’ Survive fares no better. The car engines are relatively inoffensive on the ears, but the rest of the sound effects are godawful, from the high-pitched whines of nitrous boosts to the ear-piercing clatter of metal railings colliding with asphalt. The insulting audio is perhaps at its most offensive in the menus, in which an irritating heavy metal riff is endlessly looped. It's made all the more twitch-inducing by Smash ‘N’ Survive’s menus displaying a remarkable inability to register controller input with alarming regularity, requiring a good three or four button presses all too often and being rather heavy on load times, which makes navigating through them even more of a chore than actually playing the game itself.

Conclusion

Despite having the foundations of a decent vehicular combat game firmly in place and boldly on display, Smash ‘N’ Survive is nonetheless a shambling mess whose solid — albeit well worn — premise can’t offset its technical inadequacies, disastrously unresponsive handling or the tragic lack of options available. The odd piece of shoddy English might very well be occasionally good for a laugh, but this is a game that is otherwise completely devoid of any entertainment value whatsoever. Even if you’re desperate for a dose of four-wheeled carnage and have exhausted all other options, there’s still nothing about Smash ‘N’ Survive that warrants a download.

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User Comments (16)

Iain

#1

Iain said:

I'm glad it's not just me who thought this was an intolerable pile of toss. Good to see you guys being honest and not sucking up to PR like a lot of other sites seem to be. Seriously, how is this game getting 7/10s??

hughmel

#2

hughmel said:

I bought this title after reading a review elsewhere which rated this game high and then I started searching for this company and this title because I always wanted to play destruction derby again. I don't think that it's a good looking game and in fact, graphics are acceptable on PS2 so let's not even talk about PS3 at all but I found this game very addictive. I'm not saying that I'll play this for months but I spent three good hours playing this. Camera for some odd reasons, never behaved like described in this review. I hated slow motion camera but then got used to of it and totally agree with you on destructible environment which is a mess, they could definitely do better. Fun game with bad graphics for me and I still need to check versus mode.

SamFisher

#3

SamFisher said:

Whatever..? Man it's fun have you tried split screen? Have you seen any other game in same genre at that price for PS3? You went too hard on guys Mark... seeing it's their first attempt and those problems you mentioned can easily be fixed through single patch... Have you tried contacting developer about the online patch? " Bad Review "

James

#4

James said:

@SamFisher We review a game in the form it's released, as it's clearly at a stage where the developer and publisher feel it's ready to be purchased. We can't say what will and won't be patched but, if you buy the game today, this is our honest appraisal of what awaits.

loadRunner

#5

loadRunner said:

@Iain

Did you just make your account to bash up this game? as i see it is 3 hrs old!!!
So i though i would also make one and reply!
I am a friend of the developers , and naturally a little upset with the review.
I agree that you can find that production value is a bit low at places , but the game is immense fun , specially in split screen and i think that is why it is receiving positive reviews!I think the game deserves atleast 6 as the gameplay is fun.And given such a low price , it is a fair deal!!
And lain , please dont spread negativity man! Go play the game first!

SamFisher

#6

SamFisher said:

@James I completely agree with you that it should be like that. But the guy who reviewed the game was like on a spree of pointing out what's wrong/bad. While a genuine good reviewer would have also mentioned something good rationally. I don't believe that it's such a bad product afterall. Hope you guys adopt some new policies like 2-3 guys should give mixed thoughts in a review and also mention pros and cons.

James

#7

James said:

@SamFisher Any review is one person's subjective opinion, and your mileage may vary of course :) We're not saying this is the definitive verdict on Smash 'n' Survive — it's our take on it. If you enjoy it, good for you — have fun :)

ps3coder

#8

ps3coder said:

Well, I am one of the developers from the game. I agree that the game might not be at the level of NFS or Burnout but we never targeted that level for the simple reason that we always knew our limitations but I would definitely say that we have tried to make a game which we thought can be enjoyed by everyone. I am sure you would have appreciated the fact that we have modes like plant the bomb; capture the territory; which are fun for most of the people who played the game and definitely challenging. We could have easily done a racing game but we did what we believed would be liked by gamers like us or something what we missed to play for long. I am a little disappointed that you did not like the “versus mode”, something which is a super hit with everyone else.
Indian gaming industry has a history of substandard games like Hanuman, Desi Adda, Street Cricket and more recently RA-ONE we have tried to change that with Smash N Survive and at least attempted to make a game for global audience. We were prepared to take the positive or negative feedback from the global community and at least we were courageous enough to put a mirror in front of us so that we can improve in the future games.
We have faced a lot of challenges during the development and we learnt a lot which is already showing results in our current projects.
I'm really sorry that you didn't find this game good enough to play but you should give this game a little more time specially “the versus mode” and the upcoming multiplayer DLC I am sure your peers would like to play too.

Mr_Reece

#9

Mr_Reece said:

@ps3coder (assuming you're actually one of Smash 'N' Survive's developers and not somebody just saying so in an attempt to make a point; I'm sure you understand my skepticism)

I'm sorry if you felt I was overly harsh on the game, but as a writer I feel it's my duty to report the game's faults as I experienced them. I'm fully aware that Smash 'N' Survive was never intended to be on a level with big budget, AAA retail releases, but an inconsistent framerate, unresponsive handling and poor AI do not make a good game.

I don't set out to be malicious, but it's my job to report my experience. I sincerely appreciate you taking note of any feedback — be that positive nor negative — and wish you good luck in your future projects.

Daav

#10

Daav said:

Hi there. I'm another editor that reviewed this game to similar extent (no need for shameless promotion, links/contacts can be discussed if needed for clarity). I also got some feedback phrased in such a way that I sensed there was someone doing damage control for this game on unfavorable reviews. After some research, the above comments' similar wording and others have lead me to think there is at least a pattern in that sense.

I think it's great that developers rightfully want to defend their product, but perhaps shooting down reviews on a case basis isn't the way. Might I suggest a post-mortem or otherwise notable post to recap the pros and cons of development and release? I'm sure everyone, fans and disappointed gamers alike, would love to see the process in action.

Just wanted to chime in with that to give it some perspective. A game is what it is. If there are no good qualities to be discussed, so be it, however rare it may be. I personally think the game had 1 or 2 elements that were at least adequate, but compared to most of the aforementioned points I agree with, it's a drop sizzling off a hot plate.

High fives for everyone, friends and not-friends alike.

Iain

#11

Iain said:

@loadRunner
I'm sorry to disappoint, but I'm the main writer and editor for another gaming site which, like Daav, I chose not to link to in my comment. I've played this game a lot and although my review came out at a 3/10 the same things were noted in terms of poor handling, ropey visuals and a general lack of consistency throughout.
I didn't sign up just to bash the game, I signed up to show my support to a review which I knew was going to get a hard time. People are all too happy to criticise when reviewers are generous with their scores, and the same applies when they find a game isn't as good as it could be.
Reviews are opinions, and that's exactly how they should be. That sadly means not everyone will agree, and I didn't find the multiplayer anywhere near amazing enough to counterbalance the general lack of quality in the game.
Incidentally, I've also had a couple of similarly narked comments about how my review was "wrong" despite being an honest opinion...

hughmel

#12

hughmel said:

I totally agree with Mark Reece and Lain here that reviews are individual's opinion and they can be as varied as sun and moon and in the same breathe I can say that game is still fun for me and I'm not finding clueless AI anywhere. One Indian supporter has posted a video http://youtu.be/PRJivLF60gk here showing how clued AI is. After playing the game and seeing the video, there is no doubt that AI definitely has a clue what it is doing so can we put this point to rest that AI works.

loadRunner

#13

loadRunner said:

@Iain

It gives me greater pain knowing that. This game is getting mixed reviews from across the globe , if reviewers somewhere are rating it a 7 and recommending , it must have something good in it(if you respect others opinion).
Taken that if it is your review and you say that you can write what your honest opinion is , i would say that you were being harsh , as i said to Reece.But After demeaning a game in your own review , and then hopping on to other reviewers who did that to support that is just not right as i see it(again personal opinion).

I as a gamer and also having read other reviews can firmly say that this game is fun for gamers who look just for good gameplay.And that is something.And if a game has something substantial , it sure as hell does not deserve a 2 or 3.

And last , you said earlier and i quote
"Seriously, how is this game getting 7/10s??"

and you said in your last reply and again i quote
"Reviews are opinions, and that's exactly how they should be"

I fail to see a connection between these two statements , if you do , let me know.

Iain

#14

Iain said:

That last comment is a fair point, but in my defence I don't understand how people can like it that much. Just because I can accept other opinions, doesn't necessarily mean I understand them.

Either way, it's obvious this is a Marmite game. I have a friend who can't see the point in the Uncharted series, thinks they're a waste of time. I accept that, but still don't understand why he doesn't like them. I accept that some people enjoy cigarettes, but have no idea why people would like it, and I'd rather eat several raw onions than smoke anything.

That's just how things go.

hughmel

#15

hughmel said:

This is super interesting now. It's more like philosophical discussion. I didn't like Oblivion but there are people who swear by that but if I have to review, I'll not rate it 2-5 because there are so many things in a game to rate it better even though I don't see a point in that game. Game has to be fun and if it is then it's definitely 5 and above but if fun is also missing then the game is really bad. I still love old roadrash and run it on my Win7 using D-fend and enjoy it regardlessly how it looks. Meanwhile, the Indiangamer33 is uploading videos to prove his point (At least interesting to see commitment level) and recent one is showing a kid handling the car beautifully and the kid definitely looks excited (If there's no rehearsal done for excitement but handling is definitely not rehearsed). If kid can handle then I can handle it too if I'm not expecting handling like Forza which does not excite me at all. Here's the video: http://youtu.be/NjT3qwfAX2I

theblackdragonAdmin

#16

theblackdragon said:

@hughmel: It's one thing to be a normal user participating in a 'philosophical' discussion, it's another to be the co-founder of Kreeda Games and attempting to help a buddy out by talking fast and posting YouTube videos with an obvious slant. Please chill out.

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