Not A Complete Crash and Burn
The original Crashday was released a little more than a decade ago, and since then fans have eagerly awaited for a new iteration. Crashday: Redline Edition slides its way onto Steam today, bringing with it a host of additions for this re-release. Racing games with less emphasis on hyper realism have always appealed to me, and for a title that encourages as much vehicular destruction, you can bet that you will have fun. That being said, this game has a couple of quirks and problems that may deter others. While I do respect the developers for putting the effort to add new features and improve the graphical fidelity, not all things quite hit the mark.
Explosions and more explosions!
Crashday, despite what the name implies, actually has a lot of gameplay styles and modes it tries to juggle. Not everything is automotive murder and explosions – though the explosions are really cool. What I would like to consider the defining mode, however, is the Wrecking Match, where you go into a map with other vehicles and try to destroy each other. There are myriad ways to destroy your opponents, the most effective being weapons. Now, disappointingly, there are only two weapon types in the game, a mini-gun and missiles. The mini-gun does consistent damage and is significantly easier to hit. The missile does more damage but is hard to land.
There are also icons scattered across the levels that will give you more ammo, heal your vehicle, or give you a temporary speed boost. I will say that the AI in this game mode, and game as a whole, is very challenging. While I do prefer challenge over having a steamroll experience, I do think this is detrimental because of certain mechanics which I will explain later. Wrecking Match is where I had the most enjoyable experience with the game, and where I think the game really shines. It’s not the most complex mode, but it is at the very least fun.
Among the other modes, which I disliked significantly more, was the standard race. Now, I know I have my own tastes and preferences, but I can objectively say that this mode was by far the weakest. I mentioned how earlier the AI is challenging, and while that isn’t a problem, the game has a really steep learning curve when it comes to its physics. The task alone of driving is difficult and the AI by default (you can choose AI difficulty in Single Event) is brutal. So not only does that make the game hard right off the bat, but the physics doesn’t seem to coincide with just normal racing. The learning curve wouldn’t be so bad if it felt appropriate in the normal racing.
The reason certain racing games pick one type of mode is because the car physics have to mechanically align to the game’s core game mode. This is why certain racing titles about destruction aren’t as hyper realistic, because they have to accommodate the game’s bombastic nature. Crashday’s overall feel as a game doesn’t completely work in a normal racing environment. Also, the options and customization doesn’t make normal racing that much more interesting. Now, I will say that there a lot of courses, and the design of said courses are pretty well done. The point I would like to hammer in is that the normal racing isn’t bad per se. It just feels wonky given that it feels like the game’s physics don’t lend themselves well to it, and doesn’t improve or add to what other racing games add to this mode.
Content, Content, and More Content
Crashday: Redline Edition has no shortage of modes, and the game is certainly not lacking on content. What is there isn’t bad, but it is quite forgettable. For example, there are a few one-off minigames that, while short and lack depth, are very fun. There are modes like Bomb Run or Pass the Bomb. In addition, there is a noticeable Track Editor, where you can make your own tracks. There is a good amount of depth in this tool. Unfortunately, though, it’s glitchy sometimes, with tiles not working well with adjacently placed tiles. A new addition that I greatly praise the devs for putting in is day-one mod support. The game allows you to put mods through either the Steam workshop or using the crashday SDK. With the biggest surprise being that mode are also online compatible.
While I think that, as a whole, the game is not content-short, there is perceived depth in its content that isn’t actually there. For example, there’s a myriad of modes, but the number of vehicles present is quite small compared to other titles. There is customization, but it’s very bare bones, and there are some options that are purely better than others. It’s the feeling of quantity over quality. It might have been better to add content in meaningful ways, rather than just distractions. At least some of these distractions are fun, such as the mini games or a few of the Single Event modes. I wish I can say I had as much fun with the career mode – but I didn’t.
My Career Ended Before It Started
The career mode might be the single biggest example of all I disliked about this title. Let’s start with the plot: it’s abysmal and not important. There is a thread of a plot that is told through text and dialogue at the start of each mission, but honestly it is very uninteresting. However, I could excuse the barebones ‘plot’ if the mission structure was good. Unfortunately it is completely hit or miss. This is because the mission structure consists of just the different Single Event modes with more specific requirements to complete. I cannot stress how difficult these missions are. So all the problems I had with the Single Event modes carried over into the Career mode.
On top of the mechanics I mentioned earlier, the starting car is extremely crappy. It barely functions, and to progress any further you have to spend in-game currency to upgrade this crappy car. So on top of it already being difficult, the career mode is grindy as all hell. And cars can only be unlocked by grinding fame through completing missions. Grinding to gain better items is nothing new in games, but it feels like a genuine slog because of how handicapped you are at the start of career mode. It’s not impossible to do the starting missions with the crappy started vehicle. There will be a point, though, where you will need to grind for upgrades.
As mentioned earlier, the customization is pretty lackluster as well. You can customize the color of your vehicle, but in terms of appearance there’s very little you can do. The actual upgrades are also pretty linear in terms of progression; there’s very little room for finesse. However, there is some satisfaction to completing the missions. When they are fair, the challenge is fun. However, the overall grindy nature and the fact that you have to play some of the games’ more unenjoyable modes to progress make it giant slog to play through.
Tire Fires Sound Better
Crashday: Redline Edition is an updated re-release of the original 2006 game, and the game does sound and look decent for the most part. I rarely had frame drops, but I did notice that, while playing in window mode, the game does drop frames more frequently. I will say that while the game does look objectively fine, the textures are still not clean when close up to an object. Actually, the textures aren’t that good in general, often muddy and messy. The environments are also pretty lackluster, and have low range in color palette on top of messy textures. The particle effects are pretty good, though. Does it look better than the original game? Yes. How much better? Not that much.
I will say that this game’s soundtrack is very good for what the game is. The early- to mid-2000s teenage angst soundtrack does hit me with a little bit of nostalgia. It really does set the mood for when I am committing vehicular homicide. The sound design, however, leaves a lot to be desired. While they did make some effort to update the game’s visuals, the game’s sound effects did not receive that care. The sounds of vehicles and weapons sound no better than a PS2 era game, and it really was noticeable through a headset where you can really hear it. It’s very disappointing, because it really is laughable how choppy and tinny the sound effects are. So while it is visually an upgrade from the original title, its sound design gives little to no effort.
Crashday: Redline Edition is another nostalgia-fueled trip that comes in just short of reaching its full potential. It’s a confusing pile of added content that, while at times fun, doesn’t add much depth. It’s learning curve isn’t that bad, but there are other elements that make the game unfairly difficult. The graphical and audio upgrades use the word ‘upgrade’ very loosely. I know I’m sounding harsh, and I did enjoy some of the modes, especially Wrecking Match. And I have no doubt that this might be a really fun party game for you to play with friends online. That being said, I can’t ignore the jank that is present and all the weird content additions that could’ve been used somewhere else, despite the low price for the game. Crashday doesn’t crash and burn, but it sure isn’t getting first place.
Final Verdict: 3/5
Available on: PC (reviewed) ; Publisher: 2tainment GmbH ; Developer: Moonbyte; Players: 1-8 ; Released: August 10, 2017 ; MSRP: $11.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a Steam (PC) review copy of Crashday: Redline Edition given to HeyPoorPlayer by the publisher.