There are lots of polarising ideas for games. Real Marmite stuff, like Sudoku or RPGs, that some people absolutely adore while other throw their guts up at the mere thought of it. But no one likes being stuck in traffic, so it’s always going to be difficult to make an enjoyable concept from commuter grid lock.
Traffic Master seems to appreciate this concept, and motivates you by attempting to keep the traffic at a busy crossroads perpetually flowing. And it’s surprising just how effective it can be, removing the traffic lights and having the drivers blindly floor it, rather than causing congestion by slowing down and being careful.
Your task is telling each vehicle exactly when to burn dust, and thrape it across the junction to keep the traffic moving. The challenge comes from the crossroads that has traffic speeding toward each other from four different directions.
By swiping your finger across a vehicle in the direction it’s moving, it increases speed significantly. This gets the car, lorry or motorbike across the danger zone where the two roads meet as quickly as possible, and lands you a point for every motor that exits the screen without a scratch.
But it can’t all be lead boots and burning rubber. At times you need to briefly stop a vehicle by tapping it, allowing the oncoming traffic to get past before you send it on its way. Here is where things get thorny, as stopping a car quickly leads to a build up of more traffic behind it, so you need to be just as fast on the accelerator as you are on the brakes.
Traffic Master is split into three levels of increasing difficulty. Springfield is a simple, single-lane cross roads, while Miami features two dual carriageways coming together at the centre. The lanes of the carriageway have a bit of space between them, giving you a micro-second’s breathing room when things get busy.
New York ups the game again, by offering a much tighter dual carriageway intersection, putting a lot more vehicles in the box at the centre of the crossroads for you to deal with.
A single crash is all it takes to finish the game, but it’s here that this otherwise enjoyable yet forgettable game really earns its money. We’ve seen very similar titles to this before on the App Store, but the end of a game in Traffic Master is quite sublime. The traffic doesn’t stop just because there’s been a crash, and you’re rewarded with a physics-equipped pile up that continues to grow in the middle of the screen in a laugh-out-loud Blues Brothers-style wreck-a-thon.
This small but vital aspect adds an extra point to Traffic Master’s overall score, and undeniably ramps up the gameplay flavour from vanilla to chocolate. Traffic Master is coffee time gaming at its best.