Review: Crash City Mayhem (3DS eShop / 3DS)

Crash n’ burn

When you read the words “crash” and “mayhem” in a game's title, it’s only natural to think that it will feature action-packed, frantic gameplay and a wholesome amount of wanton destruction. However, despite being suggestively destructive, Crash City Mayhem is a game that doesn't live up to its own name. While it certainly holds some entertainment value and somewhat dabbles with what’s mentioned above, it’s a cookie-cutter experience that ultimately underwhelms in many key areas.

In essence, Crash City Mayhem is similar to the Driver series. The game’s story mode puts you in the shoes of a former spy-turned-courier who has a knack for dangerous driving; across a series of missions, you must carry out a number of car-related odd jobs for an organisation with questionable intentions. It’s hardly the most original or exciting story, but the narrative at least does a good job of keeping everything moving along at a decent pace.

The missions on offer are quite varied, ranging from simple hit-and-run jobs to stealing super cars and tailing spies. Within the missions themselves, there are usually multiple objectives to complete, and the constant change in focus does help to hold your attention in some instances. The issue, however, is that some of the missions are incredibly dull to begin with, as a result of being repetitive and not very challenging. For example, one mission has you spying on someone for nearly a quarter of an hour, and during this time there’s practically no chance of being caught, not to mention that driving recklessly doesn't draw any attention whatsoever; the whole thing just feels drawn out for no real reason. Furthermore, there are only six unique missions in total; the game is padded out with multiple sub-challenges, such as a hard mode, within each overall task. There’s also no multiplayer mode, meaning that the replay value of this title is quite limited.

Moreover, the game’s world just feels a little lifeless. The environments are by no means barren, but you’re limited to mostly destroying small things like bus shelters, food stands and other vehicles. It’s not actually possible to wreak utter havoc or do anything truly spectacular in this regard. As a result, its implementation seems like a bit of an afterthought; if it had been done on a grander scale and made the core focus of the game, then perhaps the missions would have been much more exciting.

When it comes to the other technical aspects, however, Crash City Mayhem is actually pretty solid. The controls are tight, there’s an impressive sense of speed and visually it’s not a bad-looking game. Of particular note are the vehicle models, which feature intricate detail and suitably change to reflect damage taken. On top of this, it features an energetic rock soundtrack that complements the game's speed. It’s worth stating that Crash City Mayhem doesn’t contain open-world environments for you to explore, it’s just made to look like it is; there is some freedom within certain areas, but for the most part you follow a fairly linear path. In some ways it’s a missed opportunity, especially when you factor in that the game features a “Free Run” mode. We imagine, however, that the environments were streamlined in order to ensure smoother gameplay performance; the game’s frame rate struggles in places as it is, and having unnecessarily large environments would have exacerbated this further.

Otherwise, customising your vehicle is another admirable feature, allowing you to tweak its performance, colour and features. It’s surprising how much depth you can go into, with the game even allowing you to choose to alter front and rear suspension or tyres separately from one another. Nevertheless, this — along with its other redeeming features — is simply not enough to make Crash City Mayhem a truly worthwhile experience.

Conclusion

For everything that Crash City Mayhem gets right, it also gets quite a lot wrong. From a technical standpoint, it looks decent, controls very well and features an entertaining soundtrack. However, the overall experience suffers from being repetitive and lacklustre, not to mention the fact that the destruction elements are woefully limited. If you’re a fan of driving games and are able to look past its faults, then Crash City Mayhem may be for you; just be wary that it’s an incredibly short game with little replay value.