The Grand Theft Auto franchise has set the standard for open world games; with extreme attention paid to delivering compelling driving systems and exciting chase sequences. The persistent police AI units provide the player with a foil for their most impressive police chases and escapes.
After the success of GTA 1 & 2, the franchise made a big design change, going from a top down camera to a third person camera in a fully rendered 3D world. The transition marked a major turning point in the franchise, making it into the third person action adventure game we know it to be today.
(Comparison of GTA 1 and GTA 3, top and bottom respectively)
With the success of GTA 3, other games began to attempt to copy their model of open world exploration with an aggressive police / military force to chase down the player. However, the mechanical fidelity of the driving experiences of GTA’s competitors have never been able to match that of GTA, plagued by clunky car controls and lackluster chase scenes.
A smashing good time
Returning to the model established in the original GTA games, Smashy Road: Wanted, delivers a deceptively simple gameplay experience. The game is played with an isometric 3D camera view, controlling a vehicle with either left or right turns, the gas is automatically applied, as is reverse in case the player’s vehicle gets stuck. The player is thrown immediately into a police chase and must evade capture for as long as they can.
The game captures the essence of what made the GTA franchise so interesting and fun, and distills it into an easy to play experience. I discussed the similarities between the chase gameplay in GTA and the children’s game of tag in my article On the run: what GTA and tag have in common. In the same spirit, Smashy Road: Wanted has been able to successfully create an engaging car chase / escape gameplay experience.
Below is some gameplay footage of Smashy Road: Wanted in which I evaded police capture until the point when I met my maker under the tread of a pursuing tank.
Have you played Smashy Road? What did you think of its gameplay, do you feel it did a good job of distilling the essence of GTA into a mobile experience? Did you play the early entries into the GTA franchise, do you feel that their transition from top down to third person camera delivered the same experience, or were some gameplay elements lost in translation? I welcome discussion on this topic and if you have experiences of your own you wish to share please do so in the comments below, or write in to firstname.lastname@example.org.