NM Impressions: Crash Force

(Editor’s Note: Copy provided by publisher)

Crash Force is a great looking game with a lot of problems, which is fine since the game is in early access and that is exactly what it is good for. I’ve been playing the game for the better part of the last two weeks, and while the foundation is strong and the premise is fun, the game definitely needs more time in the oven before it can be considered fresh baked.

The premise of Crash Force is simple: It is an arena shooter where you play as hovering ships. As a modern shooter, Crash Force introduces MOBA elements in that each ship is in a way its own class, utilizing various weapons and perks to play the game in different ways. You have lighter, faster moving ships, ships with drones, ships with mines. Some can teleport, some can stun, others can even reverse time and regain health. Throw in a metric ton of decals to customize your ship with and you’ve got an arena shooter worthy of your $10.

Crash Force is your everyday arena shooter. You pick a bot, enter into a match, and shoot at your opponents until they are destroyed with the optimal goal of killing more of them and being killed the least. Your ships are tightly controlled and responsive to button inputs, and all of this takes place on an array of diverse maps with blooming colors, open fields, and tight corridors. You can play the game online, Crash Force automatically substitutes bots when there aren’t enough players who hold their own well enough.

While the game is rather fast paced, Crash Force hits some hitches with the number of stuns that can be played out at any given time. Instead of a simple indicator, the game spells out “stunned” and “confused” with a to-the-millisecond timer for how long the effect is in place. A one second stun seems like forever in a game where ships are whipping around and darting in and out of sight, while stuns and confusions can be useful in a strategic term, in the sense of gameplay they tend to be obnoxious and too common, jolting the gameplay to a halt while you watch your ship blow up.

And here is where Crash Force’s biggest problem lies: The fast paced nature of the game does not gel well with the kind of information that the game pumps into you. You have ammo/health/energy indicators in one corner, powerup cooldowns in another, the map in a third, and rankings in the fourth, with the center displaying your hits and relative combat information. There is far too much spread out too wide for this game, and it makes combat unnecessarily confusing and frustrating. Crash Force’s interface would have worked twelve years ago when most screens were still on 800×600, but you can see in the screenshots that it is far too spaced apart with too much screen space dedicated to large kill text/icons.

I’d like to see Crash Force’s UI get overhauled, and to further that point, I found a stock photo of a minimalist UI (source) to use as comparison. Rather than throwing them to the side of the screens, you could allow the player to keep their attention at the center of the screen by making the health/energy/ammo counts meld with the crosshair, with the cooldowns only on screen when activated and somewhere near the center crosshair. In this game nobody has time to count ammunition.

As a snazzy little arena shooter, Crash Force is turning out to be a solid indie title. It just needs a few simple tweaks to the interface and stun/confuse mechanics to balance it out. I’d like to take an extra look at it once it fully launches and some of the issues are ironed out. Interested parties can check the game out on Steam for $10.

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