by Matt Porter
reviewed on PC
Driving out of the past
Crashday actually came out on PC all the way back in 2006, and here, over a decade later, Redline Edition has made it to Steam after a stint in the Greenlight program. Of course, it features a graphical update and some new maps, but are the new additions enough to bring the game up to date with its contemporaries? The short answer is: sadly not.
Even back in 2006, Crashday didn’t set the world on fire with its combat racing gameplay. The game got a reasonable cult following which eventually led to its revival on Steam, but it really needed a complete overhaul if it’s looking to compete in a modern setting. The main meat of the game is in its Story Missions, which take you through various settings and game modes. There’s a good variety on show here, from modes where you’re simply racing between checkpoints, to demolition derby style matches with weapons and team-based capture the flag style games.
The more standard modes involve you simply driving laps around a track, or racing through city streets to reach your objective. Variants on this theme might involve weapons, allowing you to use your minigun and rockets, as long as you have them, and as long as you have enough ammo for them. The weapons are largely unsatisfying, particularly compared to other, more recent car combat games, and although there is some car degradation based on the damage they take, it doesn’t look great by today’s standards. In fact, despite the graphical update Crashday has received, it still looks very dated. The cars and environments are quite blocky and the textures are very simple and flat. The minigun doesn’t appear to fire very quickly at all and there’s a weird visual effect where the bullet casings pour out in very slow motion.
Crashday’s different levels each have a quasi-open world, although there are barriers which prevent you from going too far. You’re not really punished for going off road, and the handling of the cars, which is very arcadey to begin with, doesn’t change that much whether you’re on grass or tarmac. You can take different routes to your next checkpoint on occasion, but you’re usually better off staying on track, just in case you come up against a completely indestructible object in the environment that’ll stop you dead in your tracks. You might also be hindered by checkpoints which only show up on your minimap, and not in the actual game mode. A bizarre game choice that has you not actually looking at where you’re going, unless it was a bug.
Other modes include a Speed-style event, where a bomb is armed in your car, and you need to reach the target without going below a certain speed. Plus, with every checkpoint you pass, your minimum speed will increase just a little bit. It sounds hard, but it, along with just about every other game mode, is easy to win against the poor AI. I did fail one particular event a number of times, when one of the other racers seemed particularly good at the Stunt Mode. Here, you’re set loose in a playground of ramps and loops, and are tasked with getting the best stunting score with a very basic Tony Hawk-style combo system. I tried the various ramps, chaining combos together by doing jumps and damaging my car, which gains you points for some reason. However, it soon became clear that to get the best score, the main tactic is to simply drive up the biggest ramp in the level over and over.
Not today, Crashday
One positive is the extra car tuning you can do with the money you earn from completing missions. It’s not particularly deep, but you can at least do things like change your suspension to be more suited to an off road environment. There are also cars to unlock, although there is seemingly no point in buying the earlier cars. Some more flashy and exciting looking cars open up later on, but even with the basic car I was given, I was winning the majority of events handily thanks to a few upgrades.
Crashday Redline Edition is most certainly a labour of love for the small development team, but it doesn’t hold up in a modern setting. There are games with better car handling out there, there are games with better car combat and there are games with much deeper and interesting story modes. Unfortunately, there just aren’t many reasons you would pick Crashday over them.
Car customisation and variety of game modes
Poor handling and presentation, some strange design choices