Imagine Chase HQ or Burnout, but set in the original top-down Grand Theft Auto map. What you’re imagining probably isn’t too far off Smash Cops, the new iOS game from Hutch.
Taking place over 22 levels, Smash Cops tasks you with the job of being a cop in a fast car, which means smashing into enemies, racing around neighbourhoods and putting pedal to the metal to get to emergencies in a set time limit. The only doughnuts here are the ones being created by your tyres.
Aside from the top-down look, the most noticeable thing about Smash Cops is the control system. Rather than some sort of tilt or virtual control stick, the game asks you to press your finger behind the vehicle and move it left and right to steer. It’s a bit like controlling a magnet with another magnet. It works surprisingly well once you get used to it and I found it much more satisfying than the alternative virtual controls, but it’s nice to have the option if you really can’t get on with the innovative control system. Adding an extra finger to the screen causes the car to veer forward and ram any object that gets in the way.
Some missions involve driving around after a stolen car, while others can feature a whole squad of cop cars, taking down multiple bad guys before they make their escape. It’s all high octane stuff as you swerve around corners and try not to hit civilians driving the other way. The layout of the city means that you can even cut the enemy off if you’re lucky, rather than constantly playing catch-up with them.
Upgrading your car by completing levels helps you to keep up with the enemy and the game also lets you use these cars on the missions you’ve already finished. A 6 star system scores your progress and these new cars are essential to gaining a better score on earlier levels. Getting used to the odd control system will also help gain that elusive Captain’s badge and there are early levels that help you work on control by tasking you with driving around cones in a strict time limit.
Although the game is top-down it still manages to look fantastic, with the shimmering water a particular highlight, especially on levels where you’re driving across bridges and on the decks of boats. It certainly feels like a ‘world’s deadliest car chase’ style TV show and the audio presentation and the little 'Live' logo in the corner only helps re-enforce this.
Only the spectre of In App Purchases gets in the way of what is otherwise a great game. I, for one, don’t need messages appearing in between levels asking me to buy better upgrades that I can otherwise earn by playing the game. An option in the main menu would have been far less obtrusive.
Smash Cops should be given praise for trying something new in its control system and daring to be different with the camera angle. Hutch have ultimately created a fun and unique game on the App Store which comes highly recommended.
- Sound: 8
- Graphics: 8
- Gameplay: 9
- Longevity: 8
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