The game is a sequel to a cult PS2 title of the same name. In this release the developers have kept pretty much everything that made the original game fun in tact, allowing you to race RC cars across an interesting island setting.
Much like Nintendo's Wii Sports Resort, the island your racing across in Smash Cars has a lot of personality. Because the tracks are developed from the island's setting, you'll constantly be racing past areas you've visited in different races, bringing the environment to life. As an RC car, you'll also be crashing into scaled objects - humans wandering the island are giants for example. Hit them and they'll pick you up and throw you the wrong direction.
Smash Cars costs £11.99/$14.99 from the Playstation Store and has single-player and multiplayer components.
Smash Cars is an inviting little title. The graphics portray a summery, idealistic beach setting emphasised by the bouncey music and bright colours. There's also a lot of charm to the actual tracks. The fact that the game is developed around an entire island setting rather than seperate tracks gives the gameworld a "sight seeing" perspective, and the fact that you play as a tiny RC car only makes that more fun. Humans look like giants as they skulk about the environment, clutching their foot and throwing you if you crash into them. There's also plenty of Jones' soda around; an obvious product placement but a perfect way to provide you with a sense of scale. It's the perspective that makes this game feel different. Navigating the world as a small car has a Micro Machines-esque charm that is enjoyable throughout.
Smash Cars is one of those games that rewards you for everything you do. It's always nice to feel like you're achieving something in a game, and thus Smash Cars gets the thumbs up in this department. All the cars are completely customisable, so not only will you unlock new racing types, you'll also unlock liveries of which can be altered on the fly. There are also tons of shortcuts to unlock, some of which are necessary for beating some of the more challenging race times and opponents.
Despite becoming repetitive with a lack of variation, Smash Cars has a rather neat stunt mechanics which rewards risks. By tapping X you'll enter a jump, from which you can push the left stick in a direction to initiate a flip. This slows down time and allows you to land outrageous flips in return for Nitro, which in turns gives you the ability to boost your vehicle. The risk/reward mentality gives for more interesting races, but does become repetitive after a while.
Despite promoting online multiplayer, Smash Cars is pretty bare-bones in this department. There's only one basic racing mode available with more presumably planned for DLC. Fair enough, but there could have been more (and should have been more) in the initial package. Sure you can race on the tracks with a number of opponents, and sure the lobby and servers work fine. But it won't hold your interest at all. Which is a shame.
It's a subjective thing, but the cars can be a bit floaty for our liking. We get it, this is an RC racing game and it's meant to be like that, but it can be frustrating when you take the slightest shunt from behind and go careering off into the nearby sea.
Our main gripe with Smash Cars is the price. We're not denying the game's a lot of fun, but it just feels like it's missing something. The multiplayer is basic at best, the single-player is relatively short and while there's a lot to unlock, there's not much else to it. When you compare the game to fellow PSN racer Wipeout HD, which has over 30 hours of content before you even add the Fury DLC pack, Smash Cars feels a bit limiting.
When you compare Smash Cars to a competitive PSN racing title, say Wipeout HD for example, it comes across as pretty thin. However, what's in the game is pretty fun, and while it won't hold your attention for too long, it's still worth checking out.