403667_largerAs a complete role reversal from the virtuous Smash Cops, Smash Bandits [Free] puts you in the seat of a maniacal criminal ready to wreck anything and everything in sight. Sounds like fun, right? That's because it totally is.

Similar to Smash TV, the setup is that you're providing some sort of garish entertainment for a home audience by way of television ratings (which functions as your score). It's absolutely bonkers and in no way cohesive, but sometimes it's just fun to blow things up and not ask questions. Smash Bandits is no exception.

With a scheme that feels tighter than Smash Cops, the controls work very well, and feel right at home on a touch device. Like most of CAVE's shooters, there's a small portion at the bottom of the screen that's dedicated to controlling your vehicle -- touching anywhere in said space accelerates, and moving your finger from left to right turns. Every other action is context sensitive (like the ability to ram other cars by taking your finger off the gas, touching a cop, then accelerating again), and works like a charm.

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Before long I felt right at home in Smash Bandits, and was powersliding my way around, smashing countless objects for fun and profit. Your goal is to not only obliterate marked objects for points though, as you'll want to get as far as you can through the city while evading the cops. It's hectic, but once you get the hang of things balancing your pursuit and smashing objects becomes a fun strategic dichotomy. Of course, this setup would be boring after a while if you were just driving all the time, but thankfully there are boating sequences and tank sequences to help mix things up.

Each "run" will have its own set of challenges to pursue (usually involving destruction or getting as far as you can), with the ability to enact temporary power-ups that are good for one session, and the chance to upgrade your current car, or buy new ones. All of this is accompanied by an excellent visual style that not only looks cutting edge, but it also works. Some licensed rock tracks help get you in the mood to smash things, and the well crafted sound effects keep you in the action with just about every possible hard-hitting, tire screeching cue you can think of.

Smash Bandits also has a decent free-to-play system to back up all of its solid gameplay. The way the developer really succeeds here is the fact that the game is compelling to play even without unlocking anything. Even if you don't strive to upgrade your current cars, unlock new ones, or enact helpful power-ups, just playing the thing is still fun enough to warrant numerous playthroughs.

The only major problem with Smash Bandits' approach is the energy mechanic, which limits you to five plays in a short amount of time, forcing you to either wait or spend in-game chips to keep playing. Thankfully, chips are given out a decent amount, and playing it in short spurts is an excellent way to go about runs.

Barring the fact that I wish you could just purchase the game outright, Smash Bandits is a wonderful new addition to the free-to-play runner iOS family. Over the course of a few days I just couldn't put it down, and I sincerely hope a fully paid version with all the bells and whistles included is a possibility somewhere down the line.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • Louis Ace

    Premium = :)

  • FledgeFish

    I'd give it 2 stars. The gameplay is fun enough but the freemium foundation it's built on just gets so pushy to the point I can't enjoy the game at all. I know it's the most cliche thing to say on an ios game article but they just should have made it like $3 or something rather than use this horrible free to play formula

    • InkyTheGhost

      Totally agree. I had a blast with this game until it told me I wasn't allowed to play anymore, so I deleted it. I don't even care about most IAP, but timers are just insulting.

      • Amenbrother

        Agreed.

      • zombierevolver

        Thats where jailbreaking comes in handy :)

    • lepke

      Was downloading it while reading review, got to the last paragraph, abort, uninstall. Thanks TA, get real devs...

    • toxiccheese

      Tried the game when it released and deleted it the same day. Wait on a timer to continue playing or spend real world cash? I'd rather pay full price once! This freemium model sucks the fun out of an otherwise awesome looking game. No thanks! Can't wait for the subsequent article from TA explaining how I can play this without spending any real money.

  • JohnnyJ301

    I think this would have been on the top of the charts. If it had a price tag on it.

  • Techead81

    I'd definitely pay $ for this game! I'd also like to see them add a lot more vehicle interaction, ala Burnout, as well as different vehicle sequences. For instance, how cool would it be if you slammed off a ramp, your car goes flying, you take over a helicopter, and the cops are in jets.

  • Jake7905

    Everyone likes the concept of 'Smash Bandits', but no one can stand the freemium model it's built on. Whenever a pay model limits playtime with a pay-to-play energy system, it's an instant failure in my opinion.

    I downloaded 'Smash Bandits', but ended up playing 'Cash Bandits'.

  • ridiculocity

    Great game that won't let me play due to needing a top up of money every hour or so. Such a shame really as this week we had a swag of premium priced games come out which I purchased them all. Devs need to start winding up the race to the bottom freemium mode because most gamers play till the pay wall and then delete like I did this.

  • yaboyrasp

    I actually enjoy this game and still play it...timers don't really bother me

  • http://ask.fm/MidianGTX MidianGTX

    Enjoying the gameplay, would have paid $5 for a premium version. As it stands I'd rather wait for the timers than purchase IAP.

  • mikemonello

    Yep, the IAP model is extremely disruptive for me as well, and while I would have paid $5 for this game outright I'm not going to spend a dime on IAP that just gets used up and needs to be topped off.

  • fazered

    I'm sorry but the control system is a disappointment. After the amazing control in Smash Bandits it's been getting worse with each game. The ram mechanic is so frustrating and I often ignore it. It either doesn't target the nearest cop car or the target disappears just as you press and you end up doing a 180 off a cliff. Surely it would be better that the control circle was instead a fan behind the car?

    And then there's the IAP! Don't get me started.

    • CzechCongo

      You only have to tap the cop to change the target from red to green, then put your finger back where it needs to be to control your car. Tap and hold causes the 180s off cliffs.

      I don't have a problem with the timer here; after 5 runs I am fine waiting a while to play again.

      What, don't you folks have more than one game?

      • Protoman

        Some people do have pretty dedicated attention spans, even in this day and age. Not everyone enjoys playing 3 different games in 15 minutes. Just sayin'.

      • fazered

        Sorry but that's not right. Start a new game and get moving and then quickly tap in front of the car. Instant 180!

  • Josmur

    Looks like the devs shot themselves in the foot on this one.

    • evilelvis

      I hope they have, because the freemium is based on greed; pretty much everybody here would have been willing to pay for this outright.

  • Cheeseball

    Although the game is fun, however the timer after 5 games really puts it off for me. Remove the timers or make a one-time, permanent IAP that removes them.

  • James

    Hey folks. James from Hutch here. We appreciate any and all feedback, and we are listening! The team are currently busy giving the wanted feature a big overhaul (along with plenty of other changes), I can't give too much away right now but you will not be locked out of playing when at max wanted level (plus lots more changes). So stay tuned for future updates which include this and also plenty more content updates which we are working on and have planned. Thanks!

Smash Bandits Racing Reviewed by Chris Carter on . Rating: 4