Crasher, from Punchers Impact and Mindscape, isn’t a bleak, yet accurate, description of Windows ME. It is in fact the first Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) to stage motorised team battles, with up to 5 Vs. 5 players. And unlike Windows ME, it actually works very well.
The game features team combat arenas with fifteen different vehicles to choose from, based on six different classes which are: Tank, Defender, Melee Destructor, Range Destructor, Repairer and Constructor. The names of each class pretty much speak for themselves, but suffice to say they all bring a unique ability into the battle. Each vehicle comes with four special skills, depending on it’s class. Pressing numbers 1 to 4 in game will unleash that particular skill onto either the area, or individual, with quite devastating effects, but with the downside of having to wait for a cool down period of up to ten seconds before that skill can be used again. Some skills will envelope an opponent in thick black smoke, stopping them from moving, others will make your vehicle turn into a ball of ice and bounce up and down a number of times, damaging any opponents in range. A particular favourite of a Level 28 player was to launch an enormous missile at me and drain my health at the same time. Needless to say, I tried my best to be on his team. How you use the skills all depends on the amount of energy your vehicle has and whether or not they’ll do any good, there’s no point in turning yourself into a fireball when there’s only one opponent around. To increase your energy levels you will need to collect some bonuses. These collectable bonuses are dotted around the map as glowing symbolic orbs. Life replenishes your health; Energy does the same with your energy levels and Shield creates a limited time shield around your vehicle. Explosive Leap and Zero Gravity Acceleration make you rocket off at uncontrollable speeds or allow you to leap tall rocks in a single bound to land slap bang in the middle of the other team.
At the time of writing you have two types of battle to take your vehicle into. First, there’s Crasher Territory Control, which involves driving to a random area of the map and occupying it long enough to gain control whilst fighting off the advancing opposing team who also want to take control. If you lose control, it’s then a fight to regain it, before the clock runs out. The other battle type is the Crasher Battle Arena where, much more simply, you fight with your team to eliminate the opposition. I know, it doesn’t sound like much, and to rub salt into the wound there are only four maps, one in the Crasher Territory Control and three on the Crasher Battle Arena. But don’t let that put you off just yet.
As with any good online battle there is an XP points and achievement reward system. Earning points from destroying other vehicles, or capturing the area, or keeping control of the area can push you up the levels and the Crasher ladder of success. On the way, the extra points and team victories will allow you to unlock extra abilities for your vehicles, bigger guns, faster reloading and shooting times, better armour, better hit bonuses etc. The list is quite extensive and added to this is a secondary level of skills which can work in combo with your existing skills or those of a team mate, or just to give you the extra ability to carve up everyone on the map.
Like most of the team online battles out there picking the right skills, or vehicles in this case, will bring your team to victory. Find the weakness and plug it. There’s nothing new to that. Crasher, though, is quite good fun and brings a bit of a fresh breeze from the grunt-with-a-gun online kill-fests that are currently doing the rounds. Okay, you’re in a car, tank or that horrible looking combined harvester thing, but the game plays really fast. As soon as you’re in the action and the other team members join in it becomes manic with your gun auto-aiming and firing and you mashing at the keyboard with a manic grin on your face whilst trying to collect that energy orb and avoid the pit of lava. Before you know it you’re a steam pile of junk and it’s back to the spawn point. Although it’s online, I found very little going wrong. Okay, it had the occasional blip and a server dropped a session or two, but it’s nothing too bad and the game remained stable and responsive even when fully loaded with ten players.
The graphics are very a-la-Borderlands, but they do the job nicely, as do the vehicles, although you don’t often get the sensation of moving very quickly unless you manage to collect both the explosive leap and zero gravity power-ups. The landscapes are pretty well drawn but there are plenty of places for you to become stuck if you’re not careful. The sound effects are also fairly good with the skills eliciting a different effect and the weapons discharging accordingly.
To be honest, Crasher is pretty good. It’s not super great, but it’s okay fun. You might spend a little while levelling up, especially if you get onto a team that’s up against some really high levels as you won’t earn any XP for losing. And you will no doubt come across the infuriating situation of being taken to the cleaners by the gang of high level guys whilst the rest of your team finds pressing business elsewhere. My major concern is the lack of maps and game types. An hour or two of playing and you’re getting bored with the same old map. Unless the developers get a move on and start to release more levels then gamers will start to drive away in their droves.
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