Regular Theft Auto: Crash Time II

By Jim Rossignol on August 28th, 2009 at 3:41 pm.


Because I’ve definitely got better things to be doing, I thought I’d take a look at a copy of Crash Time II, a German driving game set in an open-world city. It’s apparently based on some kind of TV series, and features the adventures of two BMW-driving cops as they deal with outlandish auto-crime on the streets of Northern Europe. Some thoughts follow.

High on the feature list for this game is the damage model for its vehicles, but that’s also the thing that lets it down the most. Instead of being spectacular Burnout Paradise style chassis-shattering, you’re more likely to lose a wheel, then careen awkwardly into a small, low concrete wall. The game’s objective will soon time out, or you’ll be forced to restart. It’s a ignominious end. Crashes, which are followed by a quick replay, are often little more than a thud into a wall, followed by reversing. You’ve bent the fender, but that’s about it. Maybe there were some sparks.

This lack of spectacle seems pervasive. The game is ultra-functional, and seems to have been detuned to avoid being too much fun. Smashing enemies off the road – which needs to be done fairly regularly – requires you to inflict a massive amount of damage on your target. Unfortunately, most of the time you end up nudging and shunting them unto their doom, rather than facing the kind of fetishized hyper-crash kinetics that this kind of game generally delivers. When vehicles do occasionally burst into flame, it feels out of place and uncharacteristic.

The city is detailed and well-furnished with physics objects, but there are occasional moments of incongruity: a giant chain-link fence, for example, which is impenetrable, and causes a trick of perspective to make your shiny BMW look like a toy. Worse, perhaps, the city is without the kind of imagination that would have allowed it to be genuinely interesting for automotive action. It’s been said before that open world racers tend not to be imaginative enough, but in this case Paradise City looks like a dream of user-facilitation. While there are ramps here and there throughout Crash Time II’s world, they lack proper integration into the routes you take across the city, meaning that general moment-to-moment driving is lacking fluidity. In other games, such as GTA or Burnout, you can expect these to simply fall in front of you as you race across the city, having been subtly placed to allow for hectic travel. Not so here.

That said, I have enjoyed some of the challenges that Crash Time II drops in front of you. Racing alongside vehicles on a busy freeway, or chasing cars across a busy city, they do work, and the driving model – although dull – never really lets you down. The cars handle predictably, if not excitingly. In fact, there’s a kind of care detail level that seems rather over the top, given what the game is trying to achieve. What I like best about Crash Time II is that there are keys assigned for individual indicator lights, so you can navigate safely around the city in accordance with European safety regulations. Not enough games do that, eh?

In conclusion: What a shame. I can’t really recommend it, even at this low price point – and even in spite of the giant American-style articulated lorries that you almost never see in Europe, but turn up here on a regular basis – but perhaps the zanily affluent might be tempted in a slow month.

Oh well. Perhaps Crash Time III will be better. It’s certainly prettier:

“Alarm Fur Cobra 11″ seems like a much better name than “Crash Time”. UK/US marketeers got it wrong, I sense.

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42 Comments »

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  1. Lanster27 says:

    Looks like NFSMW with Burnout, on a budget.

    [We’ll pretend you didn’t type “1st” eh? – RPS]

  2. Mashakosha says:

    It seems to have indicators. This will please Javaguy.

  3. Mike says:

    Yeah, see that last video of CT3 seemed totally at odds to the description of CT2. Do you reckon it’s actually improved, or just a cunning video?

    Becuase it sounds sort of fun, in theory. Not amazing, but something a bit different. But the criticisms you mention make it sound like there’s too much dull sandwiched between the bread of excitement.

  4. Jim Rossignol says:

    It’s definitely well made on a purely technical level, and some of the missions seem different, but overall it lacks flare. I hope the trailer for 3 isn’t trickery, because if they can amp up the concept and balance the difficult (it’s a bit laborious in 2) then it could be great.

  5. vasagi says:

    not just fast car chases but “extremly” fast

  6. Nighthood says:

    I like how the trailer stays in English mostly, but lapses into German a couple of times, as if they forgot what language they were using.

    Also, is it just me that always finds it weird when a game is put onto the “XBox, PC and DS” I can understand the Xbox and PC, they are similar in terms of graphics, but the DS? Surely they’d have to make an almost entirely different game for that.

  7. St4ud3 says:

    yay, the new Alarm für Cobra 11 game. I hate that show, but the games were actually pretty good (for a game based on a TV show).

  8. RogB says:

    I lol’ed at ‘AVAILABLE ON PC, XBOX 360 UND NINTENDO DS’

  9. Heliocentric says:

    They could make it run on the ds, but not the ps3 eh? Poor sony, first GabeN, now everyone else.

  10. faelnor says:

    Germany is the only country where you can still associate the racing of shiny and expensive cars with metal riffs. And guess what. I like tremendously this presence of not-hip-hop.

  11. Javaguy says:

    Indicators! Superb!

  12. DuBBle says:

    What a shame.

  13. Ploddish says:

    What a shame.

  14. James Tao says:

    What a shame.

  15. Geoffrey says:

    Every once in a while, being, as I am, a Yank, I run across something on this site that reminds me just how big the pond is… “giant American-style articulated lorries”.

    I had to read that 3 times before I was certain you were talking about 18-wheelers. Also funny, because I’ve associated the word “lorry” with “tiny truck-like thing”, so “giant… lorries” causes quite a bit of confusion in my brain.

  16. Lambo says:

    C-C-C-C-COMBOBREAKER!

    Can we do that here?

    I’m kinda intrested in looking up what a german tv series about BMW driving comps is like.

  17. bansama says:

    I was kind of enjoying until I found that I couldn’t even get the first mission completed. If it wasn’t the annoying distance meter, then it was the fact that more damage happened to my car than that of the opponent which pretty much always meant the mission failed.

    I’m kinda hoping now for a trainer or sommat so money isn’t totally wasted. Still, free roaming is kind of fun.

  18. JonFitt says:

    It’s interesting to see that there is a chase game where hitting a bollard does not cause you to flip 8 times 15 feet in the air. Perhaps you’ve succumbed to the Bayification of media so that real driving seems dull?
    I remember seeing a comedy show (possibly Conan) where they backed into a parked car many times to see if it would explode. It did not.

    That being said, I don’t think they were aiming for any type of simulation with a name like Crash Time 2. Plus real driving is boring. Explosions, woo!

  19. Leman says:

    I think this was one of Ellies comedy reviews on Eurogamer.

  20. Jules says:

    I know that going and making new sound effects can be a costly deal, but could they not have reached a little further in the stock cupboard? That was appalling.

  21. Frye says:

    I might actually give this a try; running out of games here. How cheap is it anyways? It only mentions the price is ‘low’.

  22. fdsgdshdhsdh says:

    I LOVE THIS TYPICAL AMBIANCE

  23. fdsgdshdhsdh says:

    next game u drive a typical ambulance

  24. Esc says:

    @Geoffrey:
    I too had the same problem. Articulated? I wanted to imagine Optimus Prime style container trucks running around ravaging Germany. I also can’t imagine those things being rare, I live right next to the fourth biggest port in America and the freeway every morning is wall to wall articulated lorries.

  25. JB says:

    @ Frye

    It’s currently £14.39 on Steam in the UK, no idea elsewhere.

  26. Sarble says:

    @Jim

    ‘Flair’, surely? Though it might also lack flare, something #3 seems to rectify…

  27. Mil says:

    @RogB: Me too.

  28. We Fly Spitfires - MMORPG Blog says:

    I’m sure the game will be popular in Germany and Russia where they actually have TV shows like that. Not sure it will be of much interest anywhere else…

  29. mickiscoole says:

    European cop shows shouldn’t be able to exist if they don’t have a german shephard named Rex in it.

  30. Ziv says:

    games are made for pc, 360 und ds because these are the easiest ad most accessible platforms. pc is an obvious why programming for 360 isn’t hard and you can usually use the PC code (unlike the PS3 which is notorious for being hard to make games for it) and almost everyone has a DS (at least compared to PSP)

  31. destroy.all.monsters says:

    I’ve played one or two of these Alarm for Cobra 11 games – and they’re pretty fun if slight. Fairly arcade-y.

  32. RC-1290'Dreadnought' says:

    @Lanster27: I’m wondering, what exactly is the point of saying you’re first? 1 is about the only number of which you can be pretty sure everyone can count to it. You see, if I were to say: “32nd!”, it would have a meaning, because having to count all the 31 post before me, just because you want to indicate how many comments were smarter than mine, plus the few that posted in the time between me opening the page and actually posting.

    So I’m interested where the real value lies, please tell me. It’s obvious I’ve missed something because a lot of people say ‘first!’, even when they’re third.
    32

  33. RC-1290'Dreadnought' says:

    Pfff, and post number 33 is here just to tell you, that, yes, the sentences in my previous post are obviously broken. Sorry, and good luck deciphering it =).

  34. ContingencyStan says:

    @Jules: You’re right about those sound effects. I watched the trailer for the game on Steam, and not only do the sound effects sound quite dated, I recognize most of them from Streets of SimCity (ironically, according to Wikipedia, Streets of SimCity took a lot of its sound effects from Gone in 60 Seconds). I suspect the Crash Time II developers may have just taken the crashing sounds, etc from an old copy of SoSC they had lying around.

  35. Michael says:

    Hm… Whish they would do another Have A Nice Day but since they do all the work for RTL Playment… well, the Cobra-Games aren’t that great at all.

  36. Jules says:

    @ContingencyStan: That makes sense as I recognised some sounds from Sim City 4: Rush Hour in there. Even the playtainment logo has used sounds from XCOM and another game (or ident) which unfortunately I cannot place.

    It annoys me, plain and simple, that sound is such a massively overlooked/under-produced part of most games. It’s even worse that we’re supposed to just chow down on it. I’d like to see that change… but know that the Wilhelm Scream is still shamelessly doing the rounds, often without any self-awareness.

  37. Freudian Trip says:

    I know this is probably old news now but Steam on the Euro zone has €10.99 €14.99 and it’s in the ‘Specials’ section. Surely you don’t want to advertise the fact that you’ve upped the price…

  38. Freudian Trip says:

    €17.09 in fact.

  39. Irish Al says:

    If you ever get a chance to try the demo of the first Crash Time on the 360, I urge you do do so. The English voice acting is quite, er, something.

  40. Jakson Breen says:

    Why does it feel like parts of this trailer was made by someone who just got thier hands on Gmod? Everything is explodey and nice and all, but it just looks like a Micheal Bay directed a kid playing with all the explosive barrels in that were ever in any FPS…

    Could be fun, though…

  41. dingo says:

    “Alarm für Cobra 11″ is a very good German highway police tv series. It’s totally over the top and I’m quite surprised that it doesn’t seem to have been sold to other countries yet (as no one seems to recognize it).
    A lot of destroyed cars in the wake, 2 cool main characters throwing quips at each other all the time etc.
    It’s not really my cup of tea though since I’m more of the thinking type and prefer CSI, NCIS etc. shows.
    By the way “Cobra 11″ is the CB radio code for this police unit.

    The first game was a joke but production resources have been increased for part 2 since RTL the producer / tv channel that airs the series have aknowledged that they want to up their standards concerning games based on their tv series.

    So there is hope part 3 might be even better. :)

  42. Martin Edelius says:

    The next one (# 3) at least looks ace.