The likes of Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit prove that taking out bad guys as a fast-driving cop can be fun, but the thrill of the chase is always that bit more exhilarating when you’re the one being pursued.
In Polarbit's Reckless Getaway (the development team responsible for Reckless Racing on iOS), you’re racing away from the scene of a bank robbery with police cars on your tail.
As the open road stretches out in front of you, you'll be darting into oncoming traffic, taking down slow-moving vehicles in your path, and shunting aside the black-and-whites that pull up alongside you with the same aim.
The road to perdition
Initially, at least, there’s something worryingly satisfying about such amoral behaviour. But you'll soon have greater concerns than merely smashing through the police blockade that ends each stage.
The idea, you see, is to earn as many stars as possible to unlock later levels. Each area has a set of four different chases to complete, and while finishing one opens up the next route, you’ll need to have a solid tally to play cops ‘n’ robbers in a new location.
To rack up the stars, you’ll need to pick up coins that are littered along each highway, and perform dangerous stunts – hence, there's a ‘reckless’ in the title.
Weaving between traffic without hitting other vehicles earns you points for overtaking, though you can also get points for wrecking them, if you’d rather bludgeon your way through.
That said, you’ll need to ensure your own car stays intact, for every time it’s destroyed, one star of the possible four you can attain on each stage will be locked out.
Like the Burnout games, that idea brings a neat risk-reward element into play, as you weigh up the perils of dangerous driving against taking a safer but potentially less lucrative path.
Collectable power-ups help to tip the balance back in your favour: a boost helps you lose your tail, while a jump button allows you to earn airborne points and snatch floating coins. There's also a supersonic pulse that clears a path around your getaway car.
The fast and the furious
The controls, meanwhile, are perfectly pitched for audacious wheelmanship. With your car automatically accelerating to top speed, you just have to worry about the steering, tapping left and right on the screen to move your vehicle.
The handling is perfectly imperfect as it skids and slides in a wonderfully weighty and ever-so-slightly cartoonish manner. It feels exactly like a classic car chase should.
With concept and controls nailed, however, the developer misses the opportunity to leave its iOS racing rivals choking on its dust. The speed of the game is a major plus, but by keeping the camera fairly tight, you often can’t see a trail of coins or an oncoming truck until it’s too late.
Admittedly, the layout of each stage doesn’t change, but it’s a pity that memorising the route through repeat plays becomes more important for nailing a four-star run than true driving prowess.
Off the beaten track
And with later environments failing to expand on the core mechanics, this repetition is only exacerbated.
As the difficulty rises, tiny niggles start to irritate more – hidden areas often require you to venture off-road, but you can be penalised for deviating from the escape route.
Still, Reckless Getaway provides rock-solid entertainment for a very reasonable price, and with a few small tweaks could well become an essential purchase.