CrackingSands Game Review

I am sure everyone has played kart games in their lives,some on a mobile device,others on PCs while others on gaming consoles while others have played it in their real lives!So CrackingSands is also a kart racing game on WP mobile devices.So whats the difference?Can it provide that adrenaline rush?Lets find out.

Author:Microsoft Game Studios / Polarbit

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Cracking Race

While it's, strictly speaking, an off-road 4x4 and not a kart, looking at the graphics, let's skip over that. You'll be steering using the accelerometer on your smartphone, turning it left and right like a steering wheel. To keep the button count down, you will always accelerate when you can. Tapping on the left side of the screen will 'jump' your vehicle (okay, I'm calling it a kart from now on, sue me) into the air, which is vital to catch the fuel for your power-ups.

Well,what makes it unique is that this kart doesn't have brakes(yeah,you saw that right!).There's no way to slow your kart down in this game (apart from being shot at by your opponents, which isn't recommended). Without a brake, you also miss one of my favourite things from a karting game, which is the ability to do a power-slide and turn at speed.

Cracking Race

Thankfully, the lack of a good brake is not a game-ending decision. What is a bit of a concern is the camera angle. You'll be watching the Cracking Sands action from a very high viewpoint. It feels like you are looking down on your kart from a 60 degree angle, when the majority of racing games will have something a little closer to eye level.

This has some advantages, especially in the graphics department - you don't need to look down the track as far as you would with a lower camera angle, which means there is less to draw on the screen, with the resulting benefits to frame rate and the speed of the game. It does mean you are going to be relying on the in-vision view of the track to see what turn is coming up next, because the turns are on you so quickly that it's hard to react, and your large turning circle is the only thing that isn't especially kart-like.

Cracking Sands

The final element of the kart game is the weaponry. With the limited space on the touchscreen, Cracking Sands handles this pretty well. Your four weapons are always available if you have something left in the power meter. While "turbo, gun, rocket and bomb" are pretty standard choices, having them always available is a smart choice for a mobile game you dip in and out of.

This means that you have to make decisions not just on what to use, but when to use them, because even with a full power bar you'll empty it very quickly with just a few seconds of turbo or a rocket or two lobbed towards the opposition. This simple tweak lifts the game from mindless racer to something a little bit more strategic - and that's just enough to outweigh the power-sliding and graphical issues. Admittedly that's a very personal opinion, and I'd urge racing fans to pick up the trial version to see if they can live with these slightly quirky design choices.

What is well designed are the various tracks on offer here. They have a certain solidity to them, with a lot of variation. Take the various ramps you can jump from - some of them are simply sheets of metal laid down, others are sand banks, cliff ledges, or a few planks of wood. The variance is impressive for items that are essentially fulfilling the same function.

Each circuit has a central route that you are expected to take, but the sharp eyed player will recognise there are alternate routes, perhaps with more fuel tanks, and shortcuts that can be taken. There's a certain amount of exploring you are going to have to do if you want to get the most from your time on the road.

Cracking Sands

Developers Polarbit should get points for getting the balance point just right on Cracking Sands - this is the finest handling Kart game on Windows Phone, full stop. Not only that, but they've managed to keep that quality through the menu and user interface, and the options available to play the game.

The game is built round a campaign mode. When you start this, only one race is open to you. Play through this successfully and you'll pick up enough stars to open up other races. This includes the single race option from the main menu screen. This gives a sense of accomplishment as you work through the game (something that is occasionally lacking when all you do is pound round in a circle). Perhaps Polarbit could have been a little bit more generous in offering playing options - at points it feels like you are being told what to play next, rather than being offered a choice.

So can this game provide "that adrenalin rush"?Yes,probably for me,but that depends.I suggest you check out the trial version first and then move on to actually buying the game.

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