Published by: Buka Entertainment
Developed by: Targem Games
In GearGrinder you’ll play as Jack Hammer, a murderer who should have been executed for his crimes. Unfortunately for us he was spared and his saviour has plans for him. Being the complete piece of scum that he is, Jack is ungrateful for being rescued and plans to crush everything in his path with the huge truck that his rescuer provided for him. That’s the backdrop then for this uninspiring truck racer that has a good mix of vehicular combat thrown in for good measure.
The single-player game is split into six episodes each of which are made up of a variety of challenges. At first you might get the idea that this is a FlatOut clone but it’s a rather poor imitation if that’s what it was meant to be. Your truck has speed, armour, ranged and melee ratings. You can also customise it to some degree with skins and weapons which can certainly help with making the truck more effective in combat. In addition to the single-player game there’s also support for up to eight players for local network play.
The challenges in the single-player game range from standard races (which are definitely the most interesting challenges) to arena survival challenges where you must avoid taking too much damage for a specific amount of time. Each challenge enables you to win a gold, silver or bronze medal according to how you perform. You’re always made aware of what you need to do to earn each medal prior to the start of a challenge and you’re notified which medal you’ve earned during the course of the challenge which is certainly appreciated.
The real problem with the challenges, apart from the AI not being that great, is that none of them are original and have been done countless times in other such games. It also soon becomes apparent that you’ll have to try and earn gold medals to earn the upgrade bonuses to enable you to have a chance in later challenges; some challenges are impossible without having the necessary upgrades equipped. Having to replay challenges over and over again in order to earn these bonuses means that the game becomes tedious far earlier than it should.
GearGrinder is a full priced title but you wouldn’t believe that by looking at the graphics. The game looks as though it came out around eight to nine years ago. The character models look like they’ve been taken from an early PlayStation 2 and the animations are shocking for a 2010 release. Thankfully the truck models are a little better but the various environments you’ll drive around in could have looked much better than they do here. In short the game’s visual quality is very disappointing.
The game is subtitled and you’ll be aware of how the disappointing storyline plays out. All challenge objectives are shown in text, as are the requirements for each of the medals you can win. All the challenge types give their instructions in text so you’ll be aware of what needs to be done in each of the challenges. It’s rather pleasing to see that the comments that Jack makes during the challenges are shown in text. However, you may miss most of those as Jack’s portrait is placed on the top left of the screen and his comments are displayed on the bottom right. To be perfectly honest, I found it difficult to keep track of everything he said.
GearGrinder feels outdated in many respects. The graphics are poor by today’s standards; the various challenge types lack any sense of originality and become far too repetitive as the game wears on. It doesn’t help matters that the character you’re playing as is about as repulsive as could be. Had this been a game priced at around £7 or so it would have been easier to have forgiven some of the game’s faults but for a full price title, it’s a shocker. There have been better games in this genre available for years at a budget price that are far superior and as such GearGrinder is impossible to recommend.