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Let's hope the censors don't get a hold of Reckless Getaway. Where Grand Theft Auto caught a lot of flack for its wanton vehicular violence, you still had the option to play as a conscientious gangster with a heart of gold if you desired. This is not the case with Reckless Getaway, a top-down driving game where you're rewarded for murdering innocent civilians. Despite the dark subject matter it's portrayed as brightly colored, cartoon carnage in this cathartic and addictive on-the-road rampage.
The goal of each of the game's 17 stages is to outrun the law after a heist by creating as much mayhem as possible. You get points for collecting coins, narrowly evading oncoming traffic, smashing into cars from the side (with bonus points for sending them careening off cliffs), and staying airborne. You can't play too recklessly, though. Taking damage subtracts points, and getting in a wreck reduces the potential number of stage-unlocking stars you can attain.
Aiding in your quest for chaos are three power-ups: one lets you jump, another sends out an EMP pulse, and the third grants a speed boost forceful enough to flip cars by ramming them from behind.
The score system ensures that there's no best method for racking up points. Sometimes I'd drive defensively against traffic, while other times I'd play aggressively going in the same direction. Either approach seemed remarkably balanced, allowing you to personalize your play style.
Its core gameplay is satisfying with a "tough, but fair" difficulty that leaves locked stages tantalizingly just out of reach. Exaggerated physics make every ridiculous airborne millisecond an absolute joy, and making a narrow escape leaving a trail of hapless vehicles exploding in your wake never gets old.
It's not perfect, however. The camera is too top-down for my tastes, and often you can't see power-ups, ramps, coins, and so on until it's too late. Their locations never change, so there's a fair bit of trial and error involved.
Elsewhere, there isn't a lot of variety. The scenery changes, but there's few new gameplay elements to separate the first level from the last. One stage switches things up by having you drive a stolen armored car, but it's an all-too-brief excursion in an otherwise repetitive campaign.
Still, Reckless Getaway's chases are a riot. Creating multiple-car collisions is always rewarding, and stages last less than a couple minutes, making it hard to pass up another go at a higher rank. Sometimes, it's fun to be a jerk.
The bottom line. Reckless Getaway realizes the dream of making a high-speed getaway with nary a care in the world. Trial and error and repetition hinder the experience somewhat, but these are easy flaws to forgive in light of its devil-may-care thrills.
iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad running iOS 3.0 or later.
Balanced risk-versus-reward scoring system. Solid controls. Creating chaos is a hoot.
Too much rote memorization, and not enough variety.