Ever fancied getting behind the wheel of an armoured truck and smashing the living daylights out of other road users? ‘Gear Grinder is full of destruction on wheels…’ Quoth the developers, Headup Games. After playing it for about half an hour, believe me, the only thing that has been destroyed are your valuable brain cells.
You play the part of Jack Hammer, who despite having an eighties B-movie name, is in fact not a very nice person. The story starts with Jack sitting in his leather jacket, locked in a perspex cell awaiting a death sentence for homicide, destruction of property and having a naff name. After about two minutes of drivel from a bad Robocop impersonator you find out that Jack didn’t die, he’s now hired by ‘The Agency’ (every time I say that, imagine a deep booming voice doing it – it will make this monotonous game more fun) to do some unpleasant jobs involving a big armoured truck. There is more to the story, but it’s not really worth getting into.
If you manage to play past the poor excuse for a tutorial, or training mission, you start to race against other truckers, the police and ‘The Agency’ (remember – big booming voice). Finish in the top three and you unlock different upgrades (finish in first place and the upgrades are better) for your truck, be it a new paint job, better boosters, tougher armour, roof mounted laser guns… Hang on? Yes, your armoured truck comes with all the optional extras – sunroof, air-con, bluetooth, spikes, mines, side-mounted-mini-guns and last, but certainly not least, a pair of rockets that would be capable of sending the space shuttle into orbit.
It’s not all racing though. Some missions require you to partake in a kind of demolition derby and see how long you last, others ask you to simply drive headlong into oncoming traffic. In fact there are fifty or so missions from the sublime to the ridiculous: blowing up a police patrol using a remote controlled car (sound familiar?) or playing a kind of ten-pin-bowling game with parked cars instead of pins. It’s all true.
Whilst the above may sound like a bit harmless fun, it’s hardly worth the money you spent in buying this in the first place. If you wade through the missions, which rapidly becomes like walking through treacle, then the oppressive and bizarre cut-scenes run through the awful story line, and before long you’re left wondering what on Earth is going on and why do I have to drive through that diner? However, that said, during the races against other truckers pressing the space bar will ‘transform’ your truck from turbo booster mode, which basically means the rockets disappear into the back and your weapon systems become active. Letting loose with the mini-guns into the opposition is quite good fun, especially if there are only a couple ahead of you. Then, a quick space bar back to booster mode and you can overtake their burning wrecks. Despite the fun of mindless machine gunning the other racers, the other challenges, or races, are fairly standard; get here by this time, hit X amount of checkpoints, smash X amount of ‘The Agency’ vehicles (The voice, the voice!)
As for graphics, well GTA IV this isn’t, it isn’t even Burnout Paradise. In fact, think Quake Rally, with some DirectX 10 thrown in to make it up to date. Very substandard. But, the controls are easy, either the arrow keys or a gamepad, which makes it a little more bearable, I suppose? Music is some kind of terrible rock theme that keeps repeating itself over and over and over again, the sort of music that is played continuously in heavy metal hell, bringing torment to the damned. The sound is of a truck driving around, smashing into oncoming traffic, explosions, gun-fire and Jack’s occasional commentary where he curses and blackens the name of, the already fairly darkened, ‘The Agency’ (Did you do it?)
Apart from the terrible game engine, God awful story, cheesy voice acting, mindless destruction and soul destroying music, the game was also far too easy to complete. I played for an hour and completed it. I also lost the use of a third of my brain, but luckily it was the bit that stored things like telephone numbers and birthday’s, so no great loss. There is a multiplayer option available, but I admit I didn’t go down that road (that was a pun, by the way). I’m sure Gear Grinder will appeal to someone. As to who that is, I have absolutely no idea, probably not the sort of person I’d like to get into a car with. In other words, don’t buy this, it’s very disappointing. I’m off to join ‘The Agency’ and finally put an end to the lunatic in the truck. Viva la ‘The Agency’…. Okay that’s enough of that.
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