“Wow". That’s pretty much what I said when I saw the screenshots and the dodgy icon for Reckless Hero (Free) over in the forums. I’m a bit of a sucker for eye candy and from those few glimpses of polished pixels, I was sold. Off I headed to the app store, where I was met again by quite possibly the strangest choice for an icon that I have ever seen in an iOS game. You see, Reckless Hero is an endless driving game in which the goal is to avoid burnt out wrecks, whilst turning as many zombies as possible into red mist. Why the developer decided that a grinning cartoon guy, giving the thumbs up, made for an appropriate icon choice, I’ll never know. It certainly doesn’t represent the game and I fear a load of people are going to overlook this otherwise solid title.
Okay, Reckless Hero isn’t exactly a masterpiece when it comes to storytelling, nor is it very deep. In fact, if it were a puddle, I doubt even Tyrion Lannister would get wet above the toes, but where this game stands out is in its impeccable visual aesthetics. From the ambling zombies, to the fire particles, to the clever use of camera effects and motion blur, this game looks absolutely incredible. The effects can also be disabled via the options, which is a nice touch and possibly very useful on lower end hardware.
At its heart, and in fact every other organ, Reckless Hero is a simple game. You control a car on a four-lane road that is strewn with the undead and wrecked automobiles. The aim of the game is to spatter the zombies and try to avoid the cars and buses that do their best to block your way. Your car has a “strength" meter, so you can afford the odd mishap, but once that meter hits zero, your zombie squishing days are over. There are also a bunch of GameCenter achievements to obtain and, of course, leaderboards play a big part in your bragging rights.
The controls are nice and smooth – the car accelerates automatically and you simply tap the applicable side of the screen to change direction. The collision detection is excellent, something that can be quite annoying in other games of this ilk.
Sound-wise, the music is a decent film score like affair and the effects are nice and meaty. Upon ending your run by way of twisted metal, you are met with a comedy “wah, wah waaaah", which is another slightly odd decision that feels out of place.
Adding to the dwarf-toe puddle depth gameplay are the collectible icons that supply you with extra strength and bonus points and for more of a challenge, you can change the camera view, of which three are available – the traditional “Outrun" behind the car view, a higher view, giving a better perspective of the road, and an off-center view that puts the camera above and to the right rear of the car.
On top of the basic, score-gathering gameplay, there is a “reckless" mode, which seems to be activated by hitting a certain amount of zombies within a specific time frame. When activated, you become temporarily invulnerable and can smash into cars and buses to gain more points. Points are also achieved in a combo manner – each zombie adding extra points on top of the base one hundred if you collect them within a short enough time after the last splattering. Miss a zombie or two and they drop back to being worth the default value.
Reckless Hero doesn’t do anything new. There are tons of endless racers in the App Store, my favorite being the original Racer, but for what it lacks in ingenuity and originality, it makes up for with nice controls, balanced gameplay and that annoying urge to keep playing to reach the highest score. It’s a shame that the developer didn’t put a little more effort into the icon design or at least the English game description. One more bit of weirdness, ads are enabled in this game, something I’m not fond of in a paid app and there is no way to remove them as of yet. In saying that, they only appear on the (single) menu screen and upon game over, so are pretty unobtrusive. Reckless Hero is simple but it does a decent job of providing a five minute fix and it is so, so pretty.