Wow, I am blown away! Parcel Panic is basically Crazy Taxi on an archipelago of islands. Instead of taking fares you move parcels using your trusty old pickup truck. It retains the same intensity, and shortcut chasing as Crazy Taxi but still add a lot of own character into the formula.
You start with a basic slow truck, and as you progress quicker more agile trucks are unlocked. To reach the next truck certain points have to be reached, and it gets harder and harder to achieve the scores needed. The faster you go the more dangerous the winding roads become. Finding proper shortcuts that gets you, and your parcels to the destination is key. Big jumps can be good if you manage to hit them spot on for a landing straight into the green delivery zone.
The controls for steering are all controlled by accelerometer, and works really well even for taking hard corners and even turning on a dime. On screen buttons control acceleration and brakes/reverse. They can feel unresponsive at times but it is rather the fact that the trucks are slow to accelerate from standing still that is the problem. It takes a second to get going, and with a timer that is ticking down it is easy to start panicking at the controls. Of course I would have liked to have some option to use touch controls for steering as well to be able to play in public without looking like a stressed out buffoon.
An arrow points to your next destination, and dotted green lines in the road also help you find your way around. The archipelago is quite large, and extremely varied with a town square, marina, farmlands and a castle on top of a mountain. Once you reach your destination you get extra time, and a new pickup point. A minimap also helps you finding shortcuts, but beware there is a lot of water out there. There is also a freeride mode that I really enjoy just taking a spin, and finding new shortcuts between for example the church and the fisherman.
Graphics are really good with added special effects when running on a 3GS. The trucks aren’t nearly as detailed as the cars found in NFS: Shift or Real Racing but they needn’t be either as this is an arcade game not striving for realism. Actually I think they could have made the trucks a bit more outrageous with large exhaust pipes and the like. Sort of pimped postal trucks deluxe. The environment such as houses, mountains and trees is up to par with what the iPhone seem capable of without making it cough or crash. The water is kind of stale and murky, and it is the only aspect of the graphics I found to be a bit of a letdown.
The music is whacked out techno on speed that I feel might have been written by some hillbilly banjo player. It suits the game really well, and makes me even more panicky. Sound effects are good with a range of rural sounds of cocks, cows and whatnots going on far outside of the last Wi-Fi network available. The engine sounds are ok, and when going up a steep hill the truck sounds really tired. The ticking timer is annoying, and thankfully it is drowned by the music and engines at most times. You can only play your own music by overriding the game using the double home button trick or pressing play on your handsfree. An option to play your own music would be appreciated. Another thing that needs to be updated is that it is too easy to accidentally erase all progress in the game. A warning is needed as that option is on the same page as the music/sound options, and it doesn’t say that you just erased the last hours of racing. Thankfully I love to start all over again, this game is that good.
There is no online functionality, no achievements and just a few trucks to unlock. There are only a small number of routes to complete, but the higher ones are really hard giving a real deal of challenge to the player. I would love to have all the things that the game is missing in a future update, but really it is not such a big deal as this game is so damn fun and immersive in itself. It doesn’t need an external motivator such as online leaderboards to make me want to play it again and again. To me Parcel Panic is the best racing game of 2009 beating all other wheeled competition over the head with basic arcade fun. Highly recommended, and a definite Editor’s Choice from me.
Parcel Panic $2.99
Seller: Mad Processor GmbH