Crachday PC | Racing | 233 Mb
If you were to smoosh together the FlatOut series of demolition racing games and Nadeo's TrackMania stunt-racing franchise, then systematically vacuum out all of the most appealing aspects of both titles, you'd have the basic equivalent of Crashday. It's not that the game is terrible, but so little of it feels genuine or original; it's more of a cheap, hacked-together clone of the aforementioned titles. And what's more, it isn't even a particularly good clone. The game's race modes lack coherency--let alone excitement--and the stunt and combat modes fall flat.
No, you're not looking at Flatout 3 or the next TrackMania game--it's just a cheap knockoff of both called Crashday.
There's supposed to be a premise to Crashday, but it's anyone's guess as to what it is exactly. Booting up the game's career mode simply drops you right into the middle of a backstory that features up-and-coming racers in some cockamamie imaginary racing league. But the text doesn't explain much, and the guy doing the voice acting is practically indecipherable. Imagine, if you will, a game developer tracking down the man with the thickest British accent in the world, plopping him down in front of a series of bad New York mafia movies, handing him a script, and demanding he talk exactly like the gangsters portrayed onscreen. That's how awful the voice acting is in Crashday.
Once you realize the premise is best ignored and actually jump into the game, you'll find gameplay that's just as clumsy as the voice acting. Racing in Crashday is exceedingly frustrating. Cars are a floaty, slippery mess, sliding out and crashing into random objects on a regular basis. This is an arcade racer, so no one's asking for a devout dedication to realism. But arcade or not, these cars are not fun to drive, nor do they handle well. Of course, the trick is that you have to drive especially fast because the other racers have a preternatural ability to use their speed boosts at all the right moments and will always blaze past you if you screw up. So what you end up having to do is memorize every nook and cranny of each race track just so you can figure out where to use your boost and where not to use it. Another weird thing is that the game's sense of speed isn't all that good. You definitely get the sense that your car is about to go flying out of control at any second, but the visceral thrill of high-speed racing is basically absent.
Only the stunt and combat races are slightly better than the sense of speed. Stunt modes include tracks filled with ramps, jumps, and loops, but there's a highly limited scope to the stunt track designs. The game lacks the sort of "look at how completely insane these tracks are" vibe that such games as TrackMania have all but perfected. They're not kooky or bizarre; they're just a bunch of ramps and loops. And they're not even laid out well. The bonus is that the game does include a track editor, but even its scope is limited, allowing for a few bizarre twists but not much more.
The combat modes come in a couple of forms. There are straight-up demolition races where the goal is to just slam into opponent cars over and over again until everyone has exploded but you. Then there are weapon-based modes that give you a Gatling gun and a missile launcher so you can go nuts. These are, by far, the most entertaining modes in the game because, in stark contrast to the driving physics, the game's crash physics aren't half bad. Cars break apart pretty nicely, and the weapons aren't hard to aim or use, which makes wanton destruction a fairly painless process. The main issue here is the limited array of tracks and weapons. It would be nice if there were more variety to the destruction at hand. But sadly there isn't, and after a few plays against the computer, the action does get a bit tiresome.
Multiplayer would theoretically remedy that issue, but even the multiplayer isn't without problems. The primary problem is that there's nobody online to play against. Sure, the servers list lots of games being played, but they're all being played across the pond by players in Europe. And the European version of the game isn't compatible with the US version for some reason. So you won't be able to play against any of them until Moonbyte patches one version or the other. We spent a considerable amount of time trying to find a US-based opponent but only found one playable online match during that entire span. To make matters worse, lag practically wrecked the experience. Trying to play a crash race while cars skip and jump all over the track is just about the most obnoxious thing you'll ever experience.
Crashing cars is mildly amusing, but racing is just no fun at all.
Apart from the awful voice acting, the remainder of Crashday's production value is bit more laudable. As mentioned previously, the crash effects are done quite nicely, and the cars deform and explode about as well as you would hope. The car models aren't exactly impressive, but considering you're just thrashing them over and over again, they don't need to look pristine. The tracks are easily the weakest point of the visuals. The background environments are extremely generic, dressed up with bland-looking towns and set pieces, as well as unattractive textures. They're not hideous, but they're definitely not pleasing to the eye.
Of course, someone could try to justify the plain-Jane gameplay and total lack of originality found in Crashday by simply mentioning that it's only a $20 game. Do you want to know how much a new copy of FlatOut 2 costs on the PC? Yes, that's right, $20. And a copy of TrackMania: Sunrise? It's the same price. Do yourself a favor and go right to the sources of Crashday's inspiration rather than pay for a bargain-basement, bush-league version of the same basic gameplay concepts.