Sometimes, after a rough day in the real world, I look forward to playing an intense game at home. Something that takes so much focus that I can’t think about anything else. Crash Force is just that. Lightning-speed competition paired with an excellent soundtrack and explosive graphics.
Crash Force is the new multiplayer arena shooter by Cyprus-based developer, Asconio Entertainment. With a team of only three people, they’ve built an intricately-detailed and customizable game. You control one of up to nine different models of hovercraft. Each craft has its own special abilities, such as Aquila Warp, which slows down nearby enemies, or Clava Claw, which offers leech life. Your goal is to have the best kill/death ratio or to capture the flag, depending on your mode of play. The option to fully customize and choose between nine different aircrafts makes this shooter game an interesting challenge. Not only must you decide how best to level up your own fleet, but you must also learn how to find weaknesses in others.
For new players, an interactive tutorial and optional shooting range are provided. The tutorial introduces basic mechanics, like shooting and jumping. However, it also shows new players how to use the special abilities of their chosen craft. As someone who isn’t immediately skillful at fast-paced shooter games, the ability to practice maneuvering around obstacles is helpful. The shooting range offers stationary, moving, and shooting targets.
The game includes three different modes of play: One Man Wolfpack, Team Showdown, and Capture the Capacitor. One Man Wolfpack puts all players against each other, all vs. all. Team Showdown allows for up to 6 vs. 6 gameplay. My personal favorite is Capture the Capacitor, which is a sci-fi-themed capture the flag. Because the game is so fast-paced, playing capture the flag through narrow, futuristic tunnels feels intense. The status effect abilities of many vehicles are entirely unavoidable in the narrow quarters where the capacitors are held.
The game incorporates RPG features, like skill trees. As you level up, you gain skill points that can be used to further customize your crafts. Each skill tree slot offers a separate attack, defense, and utility tree. Some of the higher-level skills include things like temporary invincibility, rapid health boosts, life-steal, and energy regeneration.
Crash Force is set to launch on PC and Xbox One, so both keyboard and controller support are present. The game allows for rebinding of keys, which is helpful for the extra hovercraft abilities.
Loot Boxes are often awarded after placing high in a game. These boxes can contain insignias, paints, and decals to decorate and further customize your hovercraft fleet. Loot Boxes may also contain e-money to spend at the in-game shop. This money can be exchanged for things like XP boosts or additional skill slots. If you run out of e-money, the game allows you to purchase both XP boosts and skill slots for real money. I’m worried that this may unbalance the game, but it’s hard to predict its effect on gameplay until the game has been out for a while.
When the game was in Early Access, I had a hard time finding other players to compete with. Today, on the official game release day, this problem continues. Crash Force provides AI competitors in the case of a low turnout, but in my opinion, this defeats the purpose of playing an online multiplayer game. If you have enough friends who play, you can build a party with them and play against the AI fighters, but this still feels empty. An important part of making this game successful will be to encourage new, active players.
In most of the available maps, I don’t think the contrast between colors is high enough. Boulders blend in with the background and grass blends into the walls. There are also areas where invisible walls provide barriers at the edges of maps. The scenery continues, but your craft hits a dead end. It would be more helpful for players to have a visual boundary of some sort at these map edges. Even a colored, but transparent laser wall would be helpful.
All-in-all, Crash Force is a blast to play. It’s easy to get caught up in the lightning-fast, competitive gameplay and soundtrack. However, it definitely needs to recruit more active players in order to become a strong competitor in the multiplayer shooter genre. Keep an eye on this one, and maybe bring your friends.
A PC review copy of Crash Force was provided by Ascanio Entertainment for the purpose of this review