What happens when you take simple controls and match it with a simple concept? You get a really great iOS game. Just look at Plants vs. Zombies, Angry Birds or Temple Run. Some mobile games have become so bloated and unintuitive that they're more work than fun to play. It is time that we got back to the simple joys of gaming. Smash Bandits hopes to put some fun back in reach of your fingertips. Let's see if it does or if it gets its tires shot out by the cops.
Smash Bandits puts you behind the wheel of a vehicle in the midst of a high-speed chase being covered by the local news helicopter. Your goal is to make it as far as you can, crashing into as much as possible, until you total your car or are taken down by the cops. The higher the TV ratings, the higher your score. You want to give those viewers some thrills!
You drive by holding one finger behind your car and steer by sliding it back and forth. It is really that simple. Occasionally you can get power-ups that slow down time and allow you to tap on cop cars to run them off the road, but that is still no more complicated than a simple tap. The controls are responsive and intuitive. Simply put, Smash Bandits is a joy to play.
The top-down perspective is a design choice with pedigree and context. Pedigree in that it evokes the original Grand Theft Auto games and context in that you feel like you're in the news helicopter monitoring the action.
Not only do you have your car to create mayhem, you can continue your run by stealing a cop car or blasting through a boathouse and commandeering something a bit more seaworthy. Paired with the power-ups, it makes for the perfect dose of variety that will keep you coming back for more high-speed chases.
Since Smash Bandits is free, I was looking for the catch. I was waiting for an obnoxious pop-up ad or thinly-veiled hand reaching out for my digital wallet. I was surprised to find neither. Like many games, you can pay cash for upgrades or simply play and accrue the appropriate amount of money. Basically, the game is capitalizing on impatience, which isn’t such a bad idea. None of the microtransactions get in the way of gameplay or the menus. They are there if you want them, and tucked away if you don’t.
A fascinating addition to Smash Bandits is the Wanted Level. As you play, your level increases. When it gets too high, the game essentially locks you out for a couple of minutes to putter around and upgrade your cars with the cash you’ve earned, or simply go make a sandwich. You can fork over some in-game cash you earned by blowing up cop cars to play again immediately, but it is the choice between upgrades or playing again. You’d think that a game dictating when I’m allowed to play it would be annoying, but I didn’t mind it. This mechanic helped me spend less time playing the game and more on this review. Who knows, maybe it will help your productivity a bit!
Smash Bandits is one hell of a fun game. I would recommend it to just about anyone. Is it perfect? No. It could do with a little less grinding and some more level designs. The dirt roads, waterways and highways of southern California are nice, but it would be cool to have long stretches of desert road to duke it out with the sheriff. Some Dukes of Hazard jumps would be very welcome too, especially if it stopped you in midair for an awesome voice-over.
Store Link: Smash Bandits for iPhone & iPad | By Hutch Games LTD | Price: Free | Version: 1.0 | 146 MB | Rating 4+