XBOX REVIEW: CRUSTY DEMONS

If you're thinking the same thing that I am, that a game with the name, Crusty Demons, can't be taken seriously, then you would be right. Unfortunately you can't take the gameplay seriously either. by Cole Smith

June 28, 2006 - Seemingly inspired by the glut of bad, 50's drive-in movies, Crusty Demons features a bevy of bikers, hell-raising stunts and a deal with the Devil himself. The game might not have been bad if it were more along the lines of an action adventure game. Instead, Crusty Demons is primarily a racing game. The premise is actually imaginative and has plenty of potential but ultimately it's marred by poor controls, unrealistic physics and some incredibly demanding missions. Even if it were great from a technical standpoint the gameplay is too redundant for the average gamer.

A group of hardcore, extreme, motocross racers known as the Crusty Demons have all died performing a crazy stunt. The Devil knows talent when he sees it and offers the riders an opportunity at immortality if they sell their souls to him and do his bidding. They will be able to perform even more spectacular stunts, since death-defying is a term that they can now use literally. They will get hurt however, so when you hit an immovable object, your rider will feel the pain. Often the rider will be launched into the air, kicking and screaming until he plows into a wall or the side of car. And yes, the blood will spill. It's a great sight to behold, the first few times but you can expect to see these animations repeated over and over again as the poor control system goes out of its way to contribute to these disasters.

You begin the game by choosing a character and a bike. Each combination will have different attributes. Finding the style that's best for you is not as easy as you might think because all characters are hindered by the control system which makes you feel as though you're controlling the machines in heavy gravity. It's not a very responsive system, while at the same time the collision detection system is too sensitive at times.

Your first destination is the trailer park where you'll learn the ropes about riding with the Crusty Demon extreme team. Here you will encounter several southern redneck characters that will teach you how to perform all kinds of wheelies, jumps, rolls, donuts, flips and other sick tricks. The bikes actually handle fairly well when there's not a lot of things in your way, but that's a huge part of the upcoming gameplay and avoiding or implementing such obstacles, while pulling off tricks and trying to be the first to reach the finish line, can be overwhelming at times. There are different objectives that you must accomplish to appease Satan, and while some are easy, others will have you biting your arm out of sheer frustration. Whatever you do, don't take it out on yourself, blame the gameplay mechanics like I do.

Locations include New York City, Cancun, Tokyo, Amsterdam, Rio and parts of the Arizona desert. You can choose to free roam through these locales or perform side-missions to earn more points. Free roaming is not as much fun as it sounds because these locations are confined to small areas of the city. In New York for example, you don't get to play in an area much bigger than the Manhattan Theater District. The Arizona desert and the beaches of Cancun appear larger but that's only because they don't have a lot of landmarks indicating that the scenery is repeating. Graphically these locations don't look bad but they far from convincing.

Performing tricks for points is probably the least annoying gameplay aspect. Learning all of the button combinations is a pain in the ass as they just don't feel natural. If you're a fan of other motocross games, even BMX games, you will find that the controls aren't exactly user-friendly. And once you find out that there's not really much to this game you might not feel like making that kind of time investment.

Combos are the best way to score the most points. The longer that you can keep the tricks going continually, the better the score that you will get. You can do various air tricks when you launch yourself off some makeshift ramps but you don't have to do a lot of ground tricks to keep the combo alive. All you have to do is pop a wheelie and drive around to the next ramp to get more air. These kind of gameplay shortcuts take the fun out of things.

The easy missions will have you completing time trials and other race-related shenanigans. Where things should get interesting, they quickly turn frustrating. The more difficult missions will have you use your rider like a projectile, hitting various targets such as second-story windows or giant balloons. In order to launch your rider you must hit some kind of obstacle at the right angle, and at the correct speed. At best, it's trial and error. You will be working against inferior camera angles, unrealistic and unpredictable physics, a vague mini-map of the region and a confusing control scheme. Regardless of how many times I tried to get it right, I just could not seem to get any better at it. All I could hope to get was lucky.

In the multi-player mode, up to four players can join the Crusty Demon team and take part in the story mode through the magic (or annoyance) of the split screen. With points earned you will be able to unlock new bikes, riders, videos and even photos of the real-life Crusty Demons extreme team. Who knew they were real?

Crusty Demons deserves a sequel, not because it's that good, but because it deserves another chance to get it right. The concept is sound and original. Hopefully the developers will make the game more action/adventure-oriented to break up the monotony. Needless to say improvements must be made in the control system. It also wouldn't hurt to add a few hundred different crash animations to keep us inspired. Crusty Demons could be one hell of a game but as it is now, it's hell to play.

Features:

  • Developed by CLIMAX the makers of hits such as ATV Offroad Fury 3 and ATV Offroad Fury Blazing' Trails.
  • Free roaming worlds to maximize the violence and destruction
  • Licensed world class riders - Seth Enslow, Jeremy "Twitch" Stenberg, Ronnie Faisst, Kenny "The Cowboy" Bartram, and Dan Pastor.
  • 3 game modes deliver a deep game play experience - Story, Free Ride and Multiplayer
  • 5 International locations to trash
  • 38 different vehicles including dirt bikes, ATVs, Super Bikes, Ice Cream Trucks and more.
  • Combine moves to create the gnarliest of crashes.
  • Direct your own slam movies with full camera control & playback speed
  • Don't fail, bail! Throw yourself from your bike at anytime and "bail"

By Cole Smith
CCC Senior Writer

Rating out of 5
Crusty Demons (Xbox)
3.7
Graphics
The crash animations are great but they are repetitive. The various locations are too small for such big areas.
2.4
Control
Awkward button combinations make life difficult. The camera angles obscure your view at the most crucial times.
3.6
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The tunes are good and rocking but the voiceovers are truly amateurish.
2.2
Play Value
If you manage to invite three other gamers to your home to play the multi-player mode, you better have some better games on hand if you want to keep them as friends.
2.8
Overall Rating - Average
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
 
System: Xbox
Dev: Climax
Pub: Southpeak
Release: June 2006
Players: 1 - 4
Review by Cole

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best