We’re currently in the seventh generation of home consoles, and sadly, there has yet to be an Indian console game that has made a global impact. Almost all of the attempts so far have been targeted at the desi crowd, but they’ve failed to even impress that demographic. Smash n Survive (SnS), however, seems different from the outset. Developed and published by Version2Games, it’s a thoroughbred Indian game, yet there are no Indian themes. It’s a smash ’em up vehicle brawler that draws inspiration from yesteryear’s titles like Twisted Metal and Destruction Derby. It’s an Indian videogame that is trying to target a global audience. And it doesn’t draw its inspiration from Bollywood.
The game’s single player mode features a campaign, where you start off as a rookie and join the Necromancers. You participate in missions against the Hooligans, the neighbourhood rival gang. Yeah, that’s the plot, and it’s all conveyed to you via text (in case you were expecting cheesy cut scenes). Complete nineteen missions successfully and you’re done with the campaign.
The mission types include Checkpoints, Mosh pit, Boost me up, Gang wars, Find your mate, and Plant/diffuse the bomb. You start off with puny vehicles with no weapons, and work your way to earn Bounty points used to buy advanced vehicles from the shop. The game features around 27 vehicles, which are basically muscle cars, SUVs or monster trucks modified and fitted with weaponry such as pointy forklifts, chainsaw roller-blades, flame throwers, and sonic-boom. Acceleration, strength and handling also affect vehicle choice. All vehicles come with regenerating nitrous boost for added oomph. Vehicle customisation is a pain though because of the horrific loading times.
The game offers around eight varied play-field environments ranging from a ship to an arena. Environmental factors such as a crusher, which can scrap any vehicle lured into it, and tornadoes which suck in vehicles in their path also come into play. Pressing R1 activates your weapon, and depending upon the range, when the game thinks you’re dishing out damage to your foe(s), it tosses you into the over-the-top action-cam. Unfortunately, it’s a broken system wherein you’re forced to stare at it even if you’re moving at a snail’s pace and have accidentally pressed R1.
The environments are large enough and well thought out. The AI is decent as well, but the game is riddled with so many bugs that it kills most of the fun. More often than not, vehicles don’t handle true to their attributes. The physics modeling isn’t up to the mark either. Hit detection issues add to the aforementioned action-cam misery. You’ll find yourself getting caught in the environment frequently. Monster trucks react blatantly over tiny bumps, tossing you aside. Random freezing issues suggest poor optimisation. These are just a few; the list goes on. You would think that most of these bugs could’ve been cleared out during the testing phases. The net outcome is a mediocre single player campaign, but it does compensate with a decent amount of content for a PSN title. It took me a couple of afternoons to be done with the campaign.
Once you’re done with the campaign, you’re rewarded with some concept art and an additional game mode. The new mode offers customisable missions from the campaign. In theory, it’s got some replay value, but you wouldn’t really bother, because ideally, you’d be busy with the Versus mode, the best part of the game. It’s a two player split-screen mode and features three gameplay types: Mosh pit, Checkpoints and Plant the bomb. Mosh pit is the main attraction as it’s just head to head combat; a nice way of settling things with your buddy. The Checkpoints mode is tricky because of the buggy GPS arrow. The Plant the bomb mode is just a joke because once a player has the bomb, it takes twenty seconds to plant it. That’s an eternity for your buddy to ruin your party. After a couple of games, I found that the best way to approach this mode is to treat it as Most pit. So much for the bomb. The drawbacks of the Versus mode are that it doesn’t feature the other gameplay types and that it’s limited to two-player split screen only.
Visually, the game is strictly average. The framerate drops and screen tearing don’t help either, especially in the Versus mode. But beneath all of these shortcomings, the game renders itself in a playable state. The audio package, however, is a different story. The extremely limited metal soundtrack becomes a pain faster than the action-cam, and the choppy environmental sound effects will make your ears bleed. It’s probably the weakest aspect of the game and could’ve benefitted from a lot more effort. The load times are short enough in general, but every time you navigate through the various menu items or choose to customise your vehicle, the sluggish loading is infuriating.
SnS offers a decent amount of content, but the lacklustre single player mode and the volley of technical issues claw it back. However, the game does offer some good fun in the multiplayer department. Considering that more Versus mode content and a separate online multiplayer mode will be released as free DLC in April, it might be worth picking up for some multiplayer smash ’em up. Version2Games have also said that they’ll be releasing a patch in April to fix the issues. So, that’s certainly good news.
It is evident that a lot of hard work has gone into this game with a limited budget. But was the effort good enough to make SnS a stellar title? The answer is sadly, no. But Version2Games can take pride in their effort as it could be instrumental in turning the tide for the Indian game development fraternity, which seems hell bent on shoving desi content down our throats. The studio deserves credit and support for what it has achieved with this game, because Smash n Survive is the best Indian console game in the market. Then again, that isn’t saying much.