“Your territory is the Autobahn – Your assignment is: Top Speed!,” is precisely how Crash Time 3D greets you upon loading.
That’s the national motorway system in Germany it’s referring to, of course, and certainly not to be confused with a track from electronic sensation Kraftwerk’s musical output. Such lengthy expanse seems the perfect locale for high-octane racing, yet what has been delivered within this Nintendo 3DS version proves incredibly hard to recommend.
The campaign is the game’s exhaustive, central mode, the player in the role of highway patrol officer ‘Cobra 11’ as you return to duty. After making your way through training assignments to familiarise yourself with varying mission types and design aspects, you’ll set out to arrest mischievous individuals listed within the Criminal Register.
Missions range from the mundane to the bearable, encompassing those of which you’d ordinarily expect. Speeding through checkpoints as quickly as possible, gathering evidence that falls from the back of vehicles, and shadowing vehicles without blowing your cover are all included. Yet it is those in which you are sent to chase down and stop vehicles, seemingly key to the game’s chosen title, that become the most disappointing, with the player fundamentally required to simply grind a target vehicle’s bumper until its engine miraculously becomes ablaze in a plume of flames.
Progression rewards you with more cars to use, each with varying visual design and statistics across Top Speed, Acceleration, Handling and Armor categories.
The only other mode available to you are Assignments, enabling a ‘Quick Play’ route to engage within three differing modes; Time Attack, where you must progress to the next checkpoint as fast as possible; Crash Mania, where you must chase and take out criminals; and Rush Hour, in which you are challenged with driving through rush hour traffic whilst making as minimal an amount of collisions as possible.
What becomes apparent is that Crash Time 3D soon begins to increasingly echo influences Criterion’s Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, the inclusion of tools such as Spike Strips and an Electro-Magnetic Impulse device doing itself no favours in hiding such fact.
The control scheme is simple enough to pick up; the Circle Pad is used for movement, A for acceleration, B to brake, X for your handbrake, and the R button to implement your boost once it has built up. Y is then used to choose between tools at your disposal, with the L button used to trigger them.
Yet car handling is poor, the on-road traffic poorly scripted, and the visuals seemingly plucked from the Nintendo 64 era. Remarkably, Crash Time 3D must be the first game that I’ve played where utilising the boost administers no thrill, nor impact, of a heightened speed rush. Such factors leading to a disjointed experience that frequently grates rather than enthuses.
Crash Time 3D is a game most certainly stuck in first gear, with far better racing experiences on Nintendo 3DS more worthy of your attention.