Putting Crash Time 5: Undercover (Alarm für Cobra 11 Undercover as it's known in Germany) into the console drive, I was somewhat expecting a good solid racer, especially considering that this was the fifth title in the series so it must have had some form of success. Sadly what you'll bear witness to is quite possibly one of the worst games to grace the Xbox 360 if not in recent years, then since our beloved white console was released.
The racing genre is already thick with some stellar titles and most recently Need for Speed muscled its way back in with Most Wanted. If this new Crash Time game wanted to grab the attention of racing fans then it would need to bring something that gamers hadn't seen before. Yet all it will bring you is disappointment, so much disappointment.
Graphically the game suffers from so many issues I think I will struggle to list them all. Firstly the cars themselves look dull in comparison to other racers. Crash Time 5 lacks car licensing so what you get are a series of made up manufacturers and a variety of cloned vehicles. As soon as you start the game you'll realise you're driving a BMW and your colleague in a Vauxhall Insignia. There are FIATs, Chrsylers, Audis and Fords, if a game hasn't acquired licensing I would prefer that they created their own vehicles, as stealing designs without the rights makes the game seem cheap.
As you look over your car you'll notice shadows appear like big black blocks, the dashboard is a 2D mess and the dirt that your tyres kick-up can only be described as a joke. At least you get some epic crashes and explosions, right? Wrong, so very wrong. First off the explosions look unrealistic with the fires suffering from the same issue as the game’s shadows, in that they are just giant orange and yellow blocks.
Secondly your car can regenerate removing any sense of realism that still lingered. After a head-on monster crash with a bus both my front tyres basically fell off, firstly the car could still drive which I highly doubt would be possible if this were real, what's worse is that ten seconds later despite the bodywork still looking like something from Rise of the Footsoldier the cars wheels magically reappeared, why does my Astra not do this?
The CPU cars driving along the streets also look dull and all they seem able to do is flash their lights at you and beep their horns, even if you're not driving that fast. The roads are also ridiculously quiet. I can understand the lack of cars when you're driving through back-roads and small towns, but on a few occasions you'll find yourself going through built-up areas and along a beach and yet you'll pass one car, Have you ever visited a beach-side resort during peak hours and only pass one car along the coastal route? Thought not.
Perhaps the gameplay will help improve this flailing title, sadly if anything things get worse for Crash Time 5. Driving these cars is in no way smooth and you'll find that you judder your way through turns during races and events. You can also spin out opposing vehicles very easily, in fact you barely have to touch the rear lights of the car in front and yet you'll bear witness to outrageous tail spins and sometimes rolls to boot. Even after causing your opponent to spin and roll ten seconds later he's back hounding your rear end as if his Audi ... sorry non-Audi has had a drink of Red Bull and its grown wings.
I thought I would save the worst until last and that is of course the game’s campaign which is a cheesy mess. You play an undercover cop infiltrating a criminal gang by winning races and completing tasks set by your respective bosses. You also have the additional help of a brother cop who can come in and set-up ‘fake’ chases to make you look the bee’s knees. First off the dialogue is horrific, we’re talking unbearable here. You’ll find it hard to complete the eight different sections within the game without cringing or just laughing at the voice overs in front of you.
The eight sections contain around ten separate races; these can range from eight car knockout races on a proper track, to collecting packages and dodging TNT thrown out by the car in front. With each completed race or objective you get new cars and race-tracks which you can use on and offline. Sadly there is no online as no one plays this game, so that right there is a non-starter.
Before playing this game I had never heard of the Crash Time series and quite frankly I now see why. This is a horrendous game and there are so many other racing titles that do the job far, far better than Alarm Fur Cobra 11. There is no online, it is a graphical nightmare, the gameplay is pointless and the campaign both dull and dubbed over by a bunch of teenagers it seems. The crashes, which should have been the games saviour, only add to its woes and the unlicensed vehicles makes Crash Time 5 feel cheap and tacky. Even with poor games there can be reasons to buy them, in the case of Crash Time 5 I really cannot see a single one as to why you should pick it up, unless of course you are a die-hard Alarm Fur Cobra TV series fan, but even then I would recommend you steer clear from Crash Time 5: Undercover.