When you get older, games lose a certain spark. That doesn’t mean they get worse, but they can lose a bit of magic. The way you play a game as a child is different than when you do as an adult. It’s more about the adventure than the achievement. But when you’re an adult trying to find It doesn’t help that so many games nowadays are monetized to hell. Thus, it’s always a challenge to find a game that brings back that childlike glee.
For this year, Crash Drive 3 is the closest case to that so far. From developer M2H (who you might know for their work on WW1 shooters Verdun and Tannenberg) comes a game unafraid to be a little childish. It’s got toylike cars, stunts, and an interesting approach to an open world. But is that emotional response worth the cost of admission? Let’s try to find out.
Story / Campaign
This is as storyless as you can get. You are just here to drive cars and have fun. Sometimes you’re doing that in the desert, sometimes on the moon. It’s a silly sandbox, and that works well enough. But this means that any story that comes from the game is from the systems instead of a writer. It’s why multiplayer games are special. We all have that story of a victory royale you clenched in Fortnite, or some roleplayers you stumbled onto in an MMO. But is Crash Drive 3 the sort of game you can get a good story from? The type you can tell your mates about on discord? Sort of. But before we answer that, we should explain how the game works.
Take some Rocket League-esque driving. Sprinkle in some Tony Hawk scoring and tricks, add that with an open world, and you’ve got Crash Drive 3. It’s an intriguing way to make a game, it’s clear from the get go. I’m instantly reminded of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 and its attempt at online multiplayer. If you’re unaware, THPS 5 took a “lobby” approach, allowing you to start game modes with friends or skate around with other players. Its execution was terrible there. But don’t worry, Crash Drive 3 is a lot more engaging with the way it uses similar ideas here.
Crash Drive 3 as a driving game with simple mechanics used to great effect. The moment you dive into the game, you are given a quick tutorial on the game’s driving and you’re let loose. Basically, imagine Rocket League’s driving if it felt a little bit heavier. This also means that you can boost. Add that with the ramps and ring littered around, and it’s clear what you gotta do. This is where the Tony Hawk metaphor comes in.
You get points from flipping, spinning, drifting, staying in the air, and landing gracefully. This will tick up your combo multiplier, letting you get more points from tricks, and refill your boost. Your selection of tricks is much more limited than Tony Hawk, but it’s a good cycle that demands you to be stylish. Hell, diving through rings across the levels are akin to gaps in Tony Hawk too. One thing that’s neat about driving is that your vehicle gets better the more you drive. By boosting, drifting, and being as fast as you can, you’ll level up those stats until they max out. You can also pay to max them out if you so choose, and maxing out cars lets you buy more cars. It’s a vicious cycle in the best way.
As you drive across the world, events will happen in timed intervals. This is where the meat of the game is. You’ve got your basic ones, such as races or getting to a ring in the level before other players. There are ones that are a little bit more tricky, such as Cops and Robbers or King of the Hill. If you’re someone who is obsessed with Tony Hawk, there are games to get the highest score or tagging props in the level. There’s even a game mode where a beach ball appears in the level and your goal is to hit it harder than everyone else. It’s full of variety, and if you don’t like a certain game mode, there’s always the next one shortly thereafter.
But the wackiest game mode has to be Tank Battles, which is only playable in the tropics. It’s what it sounds like, you have a tank and you shoot players out of the level. They don’t drive like tanks, and that makes it even better. The absolute silliness of doing a swift drift to blow someone off an edge is as wacky as it sounds. This is a mode that absolutely needs plenty of players. Maps for this mode are a bit large, so anything with 3 players or less makes matches more about getting to your foes than actually shooting them. However, these events feel like they happen a bit too regularly. This might sound like an odd complaint, but it doesn’t give you time to breathe. You can ignore these events, but you always feel like you’re missing out.
Alongside the events are challenges that appear every day. These include winning certain events and pulling off tricks with specific cars. These come with a cash bonus, so there’s a lot of ways to get dosh. By doing tricks, stunts, and challenges, you unlock money to purchase cars, improvements, and cosmetics. This means that you’ll be rewarded, whether you join in with other players or just mess around by yourself. Again, it’s a vicious cycle and one of the reasons that make Crash Drive 3 so wonderfully addicting.
The world is split between five sections: Canyons, Tropics, the Forest, the Arctic, and the Moon. Starting in the canyons, you unlock the other sections once you jump through 8 rings in the level and raise enough money to unlock another section. Since players are mostly in the first levels, your hand is stuck if you want to play with other players. There’s enough variety in each level, even as most of them are mostly “this area and we put some ramps around the level”. The best level is probably the forest, thanks to its hilly terrain and its centerpiece of a castle. These levels fit a perfect balance between being large enough to be fun to explore whilst being short enough to not overwhelm you.
Crash Drive 3 describes itself as a playground, and it’s a good way to describe the game. There’s a childish approach to its mechanics. That’s not an insult. It’s like being in recess again. You can have fun with everyone in the events, or you can ignore them and just explore the level, finding collectables to unlock new vehicles. The simple act of driving off ramps and spinning around is a joy, and it was nice to get away from more adult But it is lacking one vital part of the recess experience: socializing.
There is a quick chat function to congratulate someone, greet, boast, or ask someone to follow you, but that’s it. You can technically make friends, there is a friends list option. But since the game doesn’t allow for breathing room, you don’t get the chance to get to know anyone. This makes for an experience so curated that it makes socializing unnecessary. It’s understandable why. The push towards these tailored experiences make harassment difficult (compare a normal game lobby during the Xbox 360 era to now). But that means Crash Drive 3 is a game you play with friends rather than one where you make friends.
To answer our previous question, can Crash Drive 3 lead to the stories you’ll get from other multiplayer games? Not really. It’s still very fun and wacky, but its the sort of wacky you grow accustomed to. Add that with a smaller player base (unless that changes in the future) and it’ll be hard to tell your friends about the one time you hit the beach ball more than 5 other guys. But the bigger issue is one of length. You can see most of what Crash Drive 3 has to offer in 2-4 hours. Hell, in that sort of a time, I’ve already unlocked 61% of the achievements without trying. This makes it a game that easily grows repetitive. It’s still easy to get sucked in, but it’s definitely the type of game you can burn out on.
After you see every level, all that’s left is to compete and unlock every car. This will only be possible if you’re a real completionist, as unlocking every car demands you to find every collectable in every level, unlock every achievement and max out every car. It’s not impossible, but it would remove that playground mentality fast. Even with that, however, it’s still a fun game to play. You might see all that Crash Drive 3 had to offer quickly, it’s easy to dive in for a bit when you have time. The cycle of driving, events, and stunting is addicting and makes it a game perfect for unwinding before bed or work. Whether it’ll have enough players to have a proper community is another thing entirely. It’s properly chaotic with other players, and I do hope there’ll be more of a community in the future. If not, however, at least there’s options to play it offline.
Crash Drive 3 isn’t an ugly game, but its visual flair is pretty basic. It isn’t the worst look, butTo continue the playground metaphors, it’s like those bootleg toys without a brand. That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, but it doesn’t have much of a visual identity of its own. If you told me these models were just from the Unity store, I’d probably believe you. However, there is one visual choice that might raise some eyebrows.
Throughout the levels, there are various props you can knock around with your car (you can even slam into an alien on the moon). In the first level, you have the choice of messing around with Native American totems. To put it nicely, it’s really tacky in 2021. It’s the sort of outdated disrespect that makes you perplexed rather than offended. Like if you had the option to run over crosses or Stars of David. Nothing else gets to that level of confusion, and everything else gets the job done.
Audio & Music
Appropriate is the best word for Crash Drive 3’s sound design. It’s exactly how a driving game should sound. Full of the revving and crashing you’d expect, its sound design is functional and never breaks away from the game’s joy. The ticker sound that comes from winning money is a neat touch, and it definitely prepares you for the sort of game this is.
However, the game’s music is remarkably unremarkable. Songs play during events, and they’re all inoffensive guitar riffing. It’s still appropriate for the game’s racing, but they don’t help the game’s problems with repetition. The best tune comes from King of the Crown event, where a royal tune plays for anyone holding the crown. If you’re somebody who likes playing games while you listen to a podcast or video essay on YouTube, that might be a better option.
AI in Crash Drive 3 is practically nonexistent, with the exception of one area: Tank Battles. They only appear if you’re playing offline or if nobody is on the server, and you can tell this wasn’t a focus. It’s easy to be trapped by multiple tanks shooting at you constantly and they turn inorganically. Even with that, they are quite easy to defeat. If anything, they just make you miss the days when games with bots were all the rage.
Crash Drive 3 is a cross-platform game, letting you play with people on their new Series X or their old, crappy phone. Thus, it’s a game that needs to be functional with any player. This also means that it runs well, even on my obsolete rig. There were moments that the game stuttered, but that was more due to my internet instead of the game itself.
You’ve got your graphical options, but there isn’t much difference between the game on Ultra and the game on Low thanks to the game’s already basic look. Perhaps you’ll notice something I won’t. As the industry obsesses over pretty graphics, it’s nice to play a game less worried about fidelity. If you’re somebody who doesn’t have the flashiest comp (we all know how hard it is to get good processors nowadays), Crash Drive 3 should run pretty well.
I have some degree of tendinitis, so certain mechanics (button mashing for instance) can aggravate my hands. Thanks to Crash Drive 3’s straightforward control scheme and play style, it’s not a game that makes me ache. But like many games, the accessibility options are pretty lackluster. You’re able to remap your controls and turn off screen shake and bloom, but that’s it. Whether or not they’ll add more features such as colorblind options or more audial cues is uncertain at this time. It’s not the most egregious title you’ll find on the market, but it’s not the most accessible game either.
CRASH DRIVE 3 VERDICT
Crash Drive 3 might not have staying power thanks to its repetitive moments and lackluster quick chat, but it’s still a pretty fun game. It’s easy to get lost in an event or two and there’s plenty to unlock. It’s not complex, making it a good you’re looking for a game that loves the idea of cars rather than actually driving. It’s the best sort of juvenile, letting you just enjoy the concept of play. During the writing of this review, I’ve had moments when I just played more when I should’ve been finishing the damn article. It’s the sort of game that makes me wish I had a less demanding deadline. It’s unbridled fun, simple as that.
TOP GAME MOMENT
Winning my first match of Beach Ball against 7 other racers.
Plenty of Events and Challenges
Lots to unlock
Tank Battles are a Highlight
Limited Social Features
You’ll see everything a couple hours in.
Native totems are an uncomfortable prop choice.
About Gavin Herman
Gavin Herman is a critic with experience in editing, journalism and video game PR. He's still too afraid to ask what this Fortnite thing is all about.