Smash Cops came out for the iPhone well over a year ago, and was a surprise hit thanks to its addictive, exciting action and simple concept – you’re a cop, and have to smash up getaway cars. Now, the same developer has come up with a sequel called Smash Bandits. Guess what goes on this time?
Well, it’s not quite as straight forward as the title suggests, and although the game is mainly about smashing stuff up, instead of a criminal on the run, you’re the star of a Police, Camera, Action-style TV show, who’s paid according to the ratings achieved by your antics. Yes, that’s right, you boost ratings by hitting anything highlighted by a blue arrow. At this point, it has all the makings of another highly enjoyable arcade game, but sadly, it’s not quite up there with Smash Cops, or the excellent Reckless Getaway.
Controlling the car is simple, as it auto accelerates when your finger is pressed against the screen, and you steer by sliding it across the screen from left to right. It’s accurate enough, and suits the simplicity of the game. An arrow guides you in the vague direction of a points multiplier, but the game is completely open and you’re not obligated to follow a set route. It’s worth looking at though, as sometimes it’ll guide you into a boat house, where the action moves to water, reminding us of Spy Hunter, until you reach the other side of the Florida-like swamps and return to your car.
At first, your car is a bit weedy, and can only knock over fence posts and small objects such as post boxes, but as you make more money you can upgrade it’s toughness, as well as speed and handling, to start taking out larger objects.
Power-ups can also be purchased, such as protection from “Stingers” which puncture your tyres, and being able to transform your car into a tank. One of the most helpful is a ram, where a tap of a tailing police car sees you shove it off the road. It’s an essential really, as the police cars are absolutely relentless, and are all over you in moments. Even when you buy the headstart power-up, which sees you begin the game from the first points multiplier, it’s only a matter of seconds before you hear the familiar wailing siren.
Smash Bandits starts off well, and the tutorial gives you a wallet full of virtual cash and some special coins to spend on continues. But this money soon dwindles away, and you’re presented with various in-app purchases to help boost your account.
The coins are especially hard to come by, and it all becomes a bit of a joke when you reach a wanted level of five and find yourself in prison. To get out, you can bribe the cops with a few coins, or wait 10 minutes to continue playing, a mechanic similar to those used in Real Racing 3. This combined with the focus on avoiding cops instead of smashing the scenery didn’t inspire us to continue playing.
Yes, Smash Bandits is free to download, and you get maybe 30 minutes of play before being faced with prison, but if you want to make any meaningful progress in a short amount of time, you’ll have to buy some virtual currency. It’s not unusual, but that doesn’t make it any less annoying.
Seeing as developers continue to push out freemium games like this, it must prove profitable too. However, as Smash Bandits’ gameplay doesn’t really change – drive, smash, avoid, repeat – the in-app purchases seem particularly poor value here, as improving your car won’t alter the fact the game is very basic.
That said Smash Bandits is worth a quick play if you’ve got an hour to kill, as smashing things up with a car is always a bit of fun, but we’d be surprised if the game had enough content to keep you hooked you for long.