Developer: Polarbit
Price: $4.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 5

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★☆☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★☆☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Cracking Sands is a top-down racing game for iOS. While the gameplay doesn’t differentiate it much from other racers in the App Store, the many different gameplay modes and options set it apart.

Whereas some racing games are all about picking up weapons and then firing them, Cracking Sands is all about energy. Every racer has an energy meter overhead and that is what allows players to use the machine gun and get a speed boost. Using the machine gun or the speed boost depletes the energy meter, but there are many energy pick-ups through out each level to replenish it. Energy also slowly regenerates by itself, but it is much more efficient to pick it up. Racers can also preform jumps and double jumps to avoid bullets and make it over obstacles and jumps.

Although players don’t have health, the bullets from the machine gun slow down racers. Since shooting also uses energy, players always have to deicide what to use energy on.

One annoyance in Cracking Sands is the AI. Sometimes it seems like the AI racers aren’t trying to get in front, rather they want to be in the back to shoot other racers. Also, I noticed that they would finish races with plenty of energy, when any real player would have used all the energy is a last second speed boost. While the AI isn’t perfect, it is definitely sufficient for the game though.

While the concept is very similar to other racing games out there, the many different game modes, cups, and options really stood out to me. The campaign has 9 different cups, 6 different racing modes, an online multiplayer mode, and a racer customization option. Players earn money from races and that money can be spent on clothing for the character, upgrades for the vehicle, and new weapons. The range of customization is extensive. The character alone has five different customization categories.

The graphics aren’t the most stunning implementation of 3D graphics I’ve seen, but they are more than adequate. I did particularly like the intricately designed levels, as well.

Cracking Sands is a comprehensive top-down racer. Although it plays like many other racing games, the numerous game mode, races, and customization features make it one of the better racing apps available. The price is high for an iOS app, though, but I would still recommend it for a racing fan who wants a game with a lot of depth and many hours of gameplay.

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