Version 1.1 released, fixes much of what’s broken

I must admit I was a little sad with how Blackout City turned out, what with me being such a fan of City Connection, a game from back in the day that Blackout City was based on. There were a few real fundamental issues with the game when we initially published the review, but now, not even two weeks later, an update was released that address a lot of our issues with the game.

While I think the game definitely has a bit to go, this update takes huge strides in the right direction and what we have now is a significantly better game than when we first reviewed it. The camera system, collision detection, and enemy car speed have all been tweaked to address our earlier concerns. With version 1.1, Blackout City feels much more like the game we were hoping it would be. As such, it’s my pleasure to revise the score from 2 out of 5 to a score of 3.5 out of 5.

Blackout City Review

The iPhone is great at re-kindling our nostalgia for the games we used to play, with different levels of success. Blackout City is a direct descendent of an old game from my childhood called City Connection that I was quite fond of, so I was pretty excited to get the chance to review it. My feelings were quickly dashed though as I discovered that the makers of Blackout City made a few weird choices, and even worse a few lazy ones as well.

The point of Blackout City is quite simple. Your car needs to drive over all the roads in a level in order to complete it. The paths all start off a solid color that disappears as you drive over it. Get rid of all the color, beat the level. In City Connection the plot involved covering up your tracks to make a robbery getaway (it was a weird storyline) and in Blackout City it looks like you’re trying to drain the city of power and thus cause a blackout. Luckily the plot is tacked on, and doesn’t mean anything. Just drive around and cover all the ground.

Blackout City

Of course, it’s never that simple. In addition to having to drive over all the roads you’ll also be dealing with rival cars. You can pick up bullets around the map and then fire them to stun the other cars, and then drive over them to destroy them. It’s here the problems start.

The camera stays so tight on your car that you can’t see very far in either direction, so you have no idea what’s coming. The gameplay moves so quickly that you don’t typically have time to react. With no idea what’s just off-screen you’re really just flying blind, which knocks the game out of the skill territory and becomes a game of luck.

You can jump over the rival cars, but poor collision detection usually marks that as a death. Even dropping down near cars seems to count as a death for you. It gets frustrating to die over and over from things which either feel like bad design choices or lazy ones. Instead of jumping you could always try shooting them, but since you can’t see them until they’re almost next to you, you have precious little time to shoot. I’m quite sure the developers didn’t intend for it to be played like this. It could’ve been fixed if they simply backed the camera up a bit or slowed the cars down some.

Blackout City

It’s a shame because, when these cheap deaths aren’t making you wonder why you keep playing, Blackout City can actually be pretty fun. But those moments of enjoyment are fleeting next to the constant dying from something you never saw coming or didn’t have time to react to.

The game includes 25 levels spread out over 5 cities, and each one has different road combinations to keep things fresh. It doesn’t include any other game modes but the game does get harder as you go, so if you’re determined to beat it it’ll take awhile. There’s no in-game tutorial, but it has slides that teach you what’s going on. The game is simple enough that this does the job just fine of preparing you to play.

I really wanted to like Blackout City coming into it. I had a fond affection for the style of game play having been a fan of City Connection, but the game stumbles where it’s supposed to shine and just never recovers. Dying over and over again from unseen enemies or sloppy collision detection makes for a frustrating experience, and sadly that’s the only word I would use to describe Blackout City… frustrating.