Review of Traffic RacerI'm taking a break from my tabletop boardgaming to talk about iPhone games. I love all kinds of games, and I like to look at what works and what doesn't.
There's a lot that works in Traffic Racer. It looks great. You have your choice of cars you can access pretty quickly with the money you rake in from illegal street racing. And what it's all about: the action is smooth, fast, and intense. Have a look.
On the phone, you press the gas pedal with your right thumb, and brake with your left. If you brake at all of course. Steering is with the tilt sensor and it works with remarkable sensitivity and smoothness. I never felt I was struggling with the controls. I did feel I was struggling to control a low performance vehicle of course, with the pickup truck the game starts with. Now that I'm driving a tricked-out sports car the controls fully match the vehicle's capabilities. Oh, and above the brake pedal there's a headlights button. I don't know the purpose of flashing your lights.
There are four modes.
- Endless one way
- Endless two way - deal with head-on traffic!
- Time trial
- Free ride
"Endless" means you drive until you have a hard crash. You can bump lightly, but if you hear breaking glass and crumple zones, game over. It's the touch of realism that adds excitement. The time trial puts you back on the road after a hard crash. It's just 90 seconds of all-out driving. Free ride just lets you drive, with no limits. It's not as fun and exciting, but a good way to learn the controls.
All the levels tend to ramp difficulty as you play. Traffic gets thicker. The pace of change is appropriate, so it feels challenging without being frustrating.
You even have some freedom of choice as to how you can score. You can drive safely just above 100kph, to get bonus points for "high speed." You can redline your ride and get bonus points for distance. And you can pass close to slower cars for "close overtake" bonuses and combos. It's subtle but it lets you win with your own driving style. Well, at least, your personal variant of "complete jerk." Don't drive like this on my highways!
The game was $0.99 US on the Apple App Store. You can advance to better cars and different driving conditions faster through in-app purchases. But you know me. I'm cheap. So I just stayed up 'til midnight running time trials. I would have been happy to support them with another buck or two. But I also was satisfied I didn't feel wedged in a corner and unable to advance without shelling out cash. You will earn game money on every run, so it always feels like you're making progress.
If I have to say something against it, you're not actually racing, in the sense of competing against other fast cars. You're just dashing at dangerous speeds through traffic. There's no explanation of how you earn "money" from this activity. But I'm okay with that. I'm not playing this one for storyline.
My rating: five stars. Great value and lots of fun.
Final tip: a reliable way to earn money within the game is the time trials. I found myself averaging 1,000 per 90 second game. Pretty soon you're in a sleek import or a colossal SUV, cutting people off in traffic. Here's the first leg of my quest for the perfect time trial: Traffic Racer time trial on Everyplay.