The Game: Traffic Panic London
The Device: Droid X
The Price: Free
The Basics: There comes a time in every racing game when you get sick of driving safely and just decide to cause as much damage as possible. The Burnout series became a classic when it introduced Crash Mode, which allowed gamers to indulge in their destructive fantasies better than any game before or after. But there’s always going to be contenders for the crown.
Enter Traffic Panic, and its latest installment set in The Big Smoke. Seven million people have played this series so they must be doing something right! With the marketing, that is, because it sure ain’t the gameplay dragging people in.
In this game you control a singular traffic light on a street running into another street that apparently has no light of its own, because cars just keep barreling through. You’re given the option to do two things- tap the screen to turn the light green, and tap it again to turn it red. You may, if you’re feeling a bit mad, even tap it again to turn it green once again.
The object is to try to sneak cars on your street through the ever-rushing traffic on the street in front of you, which will net you some points. After quickly getting bored of that you’ll want to try to cause an accident (and watch them hit each other much like bumper cars) and tap the screen to bomb the cars. More destruction equals more credits to buy new cars and locations.
There are also varied missions that give you specific goals – destroy a truck, destroy a certain number of road signs, play a better game. You’re given three at a time and when you complete one a new mission will fill its place, ostensibly to make the game more addictive a la Jetpack Joyride.
The Review: It’s important to be wary of free games these days, because there’s generally a catch. There are some great free (ad and in-app purchase supported) games, of course- just look at the Angry Birds and Temple Runs of the world- but for many games you’re almost required to spend a bundle to be able to play the game much at all.
Case in point, Traffic Panic London. You start the game off with a limited supply of “tap bombs”, which enable you to tap the screen and set off explosions that send cars scattering. Without them all you’ve got is control of the light, hoping to sneak cars in between the oncoming traffic and crashing two cars together every once in a while. No touch bombs means it’s relatively impossible to achieve any of the missions in the game, which are the only ways to get a lot of money and buy more stuff.
So you’ll soon burn through all the bombs and look to get more- but you can’t by playing the game. You have to buy them, or complete special offers through the developer’s partners, by downloading apps you don’t want or signing up for services you don’t need. You can spend a few bucks on a limited number of bombs or you can drop nearly 17 bucks for unlimited bombs.
Without the bombs you’ll never unlock all the stuff in the game, because the most credits you can earn with the little fender benders you can cause sans bombs only nets you a few hundred credits at most. With new vehicles starting in the tens of thousands and extra levels costing 150,000 and up, you’ll never unlock everything unless you pony up the dough.
Fortunately you’re given an option to unlock everything, which costs a mere £31.99, or a hair over $50. The balls on these guys!
But still- vehicular destruction! There’s nothing wrong with that. But there is- the crashes are bland as can be. The little car models are decent but they don’t deform or show any damage, and the tinny sound effects don’t help things. Plus there’s the fact that the game is less about car crashes and more about being a terrible traffic controller.
A boring, useless little game that asks you to pay too much to play it properly. Avoid.
The Final Grade: D