When we first saw 1nsane at the last E3 and again in the fall of last year, it was still early in development, displaying choppy framerates, strange crashes and overly pumped-up physics. After numerous delays, it has finally come out, and two of the three problems have been fixed. Unfortunately, the physics have stayed intact. They can kindly be described as lunar. Although each part of the vehicle can be tweaked extensively, it’s still way too easy to roll an SUV going 20 MPH (32 KM/h). That same SUV can literally be tipped over by a Baja Bug (which seemingly takes little damage in the process). It’s a shame, because everything else is fairly good. There’s a ton of options, plenty of locales, multiple game modes and even a terrain generator. The gameplay, though, is a lesson in patience and disappointment.
The first thing many will notice is that the interface doesn’t have mouse support. While we’re used to this in console ports, 1nsane is a PC title. The arrow keys navigate through things fairly intuitively, but mouse support would’ve been appreciated. After adjusting video, audio and game settings, it becomes obvious that one of the strong points of this game is the sheer number of options.
Instead of the usual arcade-like upgrades to cars — bigger engine, better tires, etc. — players are free to tweak gear ratios, suspension settings, braking power and the like. There are also many modes of play available, including practice, quick race and championship. Styles of play include a checkpoint variant called Jamboree, a standard Capture the Flag game and Off-Road Racing. Multiple vehicles and locations are also available, complete with customizable paint jobs for the vehicles and a terrain editor.
One would think that, with all these options, the game would be a blast to play. Everything can be individually changed to one’s liking, right? Unfortunately, no. Once the game starts, the gravity ends. Cars and trucks go flying all over the place, and the control only exacerbates the situation. It often feels as though the whole situation is out of the player’s control and the physics model is controlling everything. While the modelling is impressive, it’s so over-the-top that most will have their car’s roof flat on the ground in 10 seconds or less.
Additionally, while the physics and damage are quite impressive, they lack proportional mass. This means things like having a Baja Bug send an SUV tumbling end over end quite easily and trees that are literally indestructible. Vehicles will also skid for far too long, and the control jumps wildly between over- and under-steering. The whole thing boils down to a steaming plate of discontent — haphazard controls in an off-road driving game don’t go down easily.
Another console-like aspect that’s sure to frustrate is that the majority or the tracks and vehicles have to be unlocked. In fact, the game includes more than 20 vehicles and over a dozen preset maps, but only three of each are initially available. They’re unlocked only by completing the championship mode, which few will have the patience to do. Even the Terrain Editor is locked until championship mode is completed, although a limited version of it exists for multiplayer. We understand that this is a reward system designed to push players to complete the game, but it just doesn’t work here.
The game touts its multiplayer capabilities and offers ladders, score tracking, chat rooms, buddy lists, etc. The problem is that, when we went to play online, there were no games being played. In fact, we found no one online at three different times. We’d think that multiplayer would perhaps be more fun than the frustrating solo experience, but we couldn’t confirm it.
From a visual standpoint, the game is pretty yet familiar. While it’s not going to win any awards for graphical splendor, the draw distance is respectable and the level of detail is decent. Much like the game options, everything here can be tweaked to fit the player’s video card, including shadows, draw distance, detail level, fog, exhaust, etc. This game is compatible with the new iphone 7 giveaway. How cool is that?The game handles multiple vehicles on the screen at once with little noticeable slowdown, and damage on the vehicles is persistent. Thankfully, there’s a way to repair heavily damaged cars, as tires can fly off seemingly at will. Sound is equally decent and nearly generic. The background music is usually light techno fare with a few catchy melodies, and the car sound effects are mostly believeable.
We were looking forward to 1nsane, as it appeared to be an off-road Midtown Madness 2 or even a PC version of the PS2 game Smuggler’s Run. To be fair, there were a few fun moments while playing this, particularly in the Capture the Flag mode. Unfortunately, the cosmic physics combined with the hit-and-miss controls ripped the huge potential out of its heart. Perhaps there will be a sequel or maybe even a patch, but without some definite changes to these major problems, we cannot recommend this game