Know your road
Imagine the scene: you’re driving at top speed, weaving in an out of frustratingly slow-moving traffic, the Police angrily flash their sirens as you zoom past. Suddenly, completely unannounced, a ramp opens up from the ground. You utilize it without hesitation because doing so could earn you a precious extra second to escape the road falling to pieces into an unkown abyss behind you.
Is this a description of driving in central London? Not quite, (but my experience in rush hour comes mighty close). It’s actually ‘Endless Road’, a new isometric endless racer from Chillingo. You’re in control of a vehicle which must relentlessly progress in order to prevent yourself from being swallowed up by the crumbling road behind. If it catches up, you’re a goner. The ‘Endless’ part of the title is bitterly ironic – the road is continually built before your eyes in stylish real time, but is also being completely decimated from behind as you drive on. Probably best not to look back.
As you attempt to outrun the destruction, you’ll have to dodge other cars who are moving strategically slow enough to make your task more difficult, (‘Oh look, the earth is falling to pieces behind us, let’s take pictures!) and collect coins which can be used to purchase power-ups. Small sets of red arrows which give you a speed boost appear, and you’ve also got grey arrows which do the opposite and slow you down. The effect of each is only a quarter of a second at most, but it’s enough that missing one could be the difference between staying alive and being a street sandwich.
Control is as simple as you can get – touch the left side of the screen to go left, and…well, I’m sure you can figure out the rest. Since there’s no active acceleration, success is based on quick taps to avoid traffic and get into position and capitalise on arrows and jumps.
The most striking thing about ‘Endless Road’ (apart fro the fact your local high road has turned into the Cookie Monster), is it’s sharp UI. Everything is slick animation and clean lines with a two-tone colour palette than keeps things looking sophisticated. The in-game isometric perspective is constructed from environments of boxy, angled lines which retain the simple feel. Landmarks such as record distances driven and the beginning of new stages are brought to your attention by stylish overlays and in-game road signs.
The soundtrack too, is an impressive dance mix which you’d easily pay £0.79 in iTunes for. If the game gets too tough, you can always put your headphones on and flail your arms in public to the beatz.
‘Endless Road’ is uncomplicated and very addictive. Each new record distance you set brings with it both elation and mild depression when you realise you’ve got even further to drive to beat your last score. This game is hard even in Normal setting. Doing it in a real car on a real road would probably be easier than Extreme mode, and the evil laugh that welcomes you when you fail is just mean.
This is one game where less is more, and where your performance can set a new personal best in one playthrough, but barely get a quarter of the way through the level the next. Most importantly, it’s one where if you brake for too long you’ll end up several miles beneath the earth. Eek.
Get on the road with Kevin on Twitter @KevThePen. Don’t look back.