Smash Cops – Review

Platform | Release Date
iOS | January 19, 2011
Developed by Hutch Games
Published by Hutch Games

The Pitch:

BE THE POLICE IN AMERICA’S WILDEST TV CHASES

- PURSUE
Take down runaway felons whilst avoiding civilian traffic and buddy police as you chase and weave through traffic.

- ESCAPE
Escape under time pressure from felon attack and get to a call out location as quickly as possible.

- CHALLENGE
4 different mini games: smash a load of cars illegally parked in a car park, weave through a course laid out by cones, dodge traffic on a highway and collect evidence throughout the city.

In the world of mobile game development, particularly for Apple devices, getting yourself in that “New and Noteworthy” bar must feel like the be all and end all. Sure, users will find your game anyway if it’s truly outstanding and picks up a bit of lucky press attention, but that’s an even less likely route to success. No, “New and Noteworthy” is definitely where it’s at.

Luckily, developers seem to have discovered a formula recently – one that Hutch Games has applied liberally to Smash Cops, their latest release.

Smash Cops is well presented, with a UI that looks crisp and clear on the big iPad screen. The graphics are pretty too although they don’t really stretch the latest hardware. Chunky, family friendly vehicles in a brightly coloured Miami styled mini-city are the order of the day. There’s the almost obligatory “Super Cop” in-app purchase that will allow struggling casual gamers to skip by tougher levels and the gameplay is suitably perky to be featured in commercials, should Apple desire.

All of this is hard to criticise, but it hides a game that lacks content and substance. Smash Cops is a game about Smashing and, get this, you are a Cop. Across twenty-odd missions you’ll chase down criminals, positioning yourself alongside them to inflict maximum damage with a touch controlled shunt manoeuvre. That’s pretty much it.

Simplicity is fine as long as the concept doesn’t wear thin. Unfortunately, you can burn through Smash Cops’ missions in less than an hour but unlike something like Where’s My Water? or, dare I say it, Angry Birds, there is zero incentive to replay. A tame difficulty level means you’ll probably have unlocked everything in the game’s garage within that first play and poor leaderboard integration means there’s no sense of competition to rely on.

Hutch have tried to set the game apart though, introducing a new type of control scheme. You place your finger at the rear of your vehicle and push it, sort of. The effect is like driving a rear wheel drive forklift – at speed the cars veer around their rear axle almost uncontrollably. This artificially increases the game’s difficulty until you disable the novelty and return to a virtual stick, at which point the game is more satisfying but even easier to breeze through.

The game isn’t expensive though, unless you fall into the trap of relying on the “Super Cop” thing to get you through. Some players have complained that the few challenge missions, one where you drive a damaged car through a gauntlet and another where you have to avoid cones, block out later levels because of their extreme difficulty. I honestly didn’t find them that challenging and was more than able to pick up enough points to progress without.

If it’s cheap, maybe its thin content and one-shot gameplay can be forgiven, but the truth is that the impressive “New and Noteworthy” veneer leaves you wanting a lot more. I went into Smash Cops expecting my next mobile addiction. Instead, I found an hour of power with a sloppy finish. Disappointing, but not heartbreaking.

About Martin Perry

Martin Perry is Reviews Editor for Splitkick.
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