Version played: Xbox One
When I last checked, I had played exactly 44 minutes of Bridge Constructor Stunts on Xbox One. I put in five, maybe ten minutes more after that and finally gave up because, despite taking a break for a week or so, this game continues to irritate me.
Bridge Constructor Stunts is exactly what the title suggests. Enter level, build bridges to get from point A to point B, perform stunts along the way. Occasionally, you will blow things up and earn points. The level ends when you touch the flag at the opposite end of the level from your starting point. At the end of the level, the game tallies your score from stunts, destruction, collecting green stars and golden bolts, and actually crossing the flag. You get a high score and, if you haven’t collected the stars or bolts, that’s presumably a reason to go back and replay the level – something you can do if you simply want to beat your own high score by doing more stunts or blowing more stuff up.
My problem is how linear, how annoying narrow, the focus of the entire game is.
My first gripe is that the end-of-level flag is on the ground. Unless your tow truck – or, later, dump truck – actually physically touches it, you will fail the level. That’s a problem because I constructed some enormously silly ramps that allowed me to fly meters above the flag itself. It looked cool. I got points for airtime. But because the flag is on the ground, I failed the level and couldn’t unlock the next one to move on. I had to rein myself in, construct a sensible bridge, control my acceleration so I wasn’t going too fast – all to guarantee that I hit the ground just so that I would actually complete each level. And this isn’t a one-off. It’s a problem in literally every level, with the game forcing me to slow down or not do stupid – but entertaining – things if I want to progress.
Behold – 13,425 and just because I didn’t touch the flag at the end, the game tells me I failed the level. It isn’t that I didn’t cross the finish line, oh no. I sailed above it like the truly majestic tow truck that I am. But no, I’m not allowed to do that.
Something like this is easily fixable, too. Mario got a 50-goddamn-meter tall flag and more points if he hopped onto the very top of it. In a game that awards points for airtime why in the world isn’t there a similar system? If I cross the finish line at 50 meters above the ground, I want to not only be given a bajillion points, I also want to unlock some sort of bird-related achievement.
This pattern of restrictions plagues Bridge Constructor, making it generally irritating instead of bonkers fun.
If there were fewer restrictions, Bridge Constructor would have fairly impressive replay value because there is a tolerable amount of content on offer. There are five ‘campaigns’ in total, each of which includes a number of levels. The first has 9 levels, the second and third have 6 each. I have no idea how many levels are left because I haven’t unlocked the last two campaigns and have no intention of even attempting to do so.
Now, the process of getting to the finish line isn’t fun. But surely, you cry, constructing silly bridges is fantastic and delightful? Nope.
Even the construction system is limited. I was actually curious about how it would work, because of the button limitations on an Xbox controller. But Bridge Constructor actually handles it quite neatly. The d-pad is used to select different materials which line up on the right side of the screen (wooden support beams, steel support beams, or cables, for example). Pressing A places a support, pressing A again turns a support piece into a stretch of road, B is used to delete. Simple and efficient. It seemed promising. Alas.
There are two limitations on the length of a bridge that you can construct: the budget for the level and connection points on the ground. The budget makes perfect sense to me because it’s fun to construct with a limited number of pieces; coming up with something bonkers within the amount of money I had was a fun challenge. The connection points are not.
You can only connect a bridge to the ground using connection points. In the screen below, there are only two – white circles with a black and yellow border, one near the edge of the orange ramp, the second near the left edge of the pillar closer to the ground. If you look to the right, you’ll see that the support I was attempting to construct just isn’t touching the bottom because this wretchedly annoying game doesn’t want it to.
Why did this rankle? I was under-budget. I had enough money to do the stupid thing I wanted to do, (look at the top of the screenshot; I had used 27,900 of 30,000) which in this case was to drive straight to the finish line. But an entirely pointless restriction prevented me from playing the way I wanted.
It was after this point that I gave up for a week because I was wretchedly frustrated with Bridge Constructor constantly preventing me from having fun. What I had hoped this game would be – and what it seems like as you play through the tutorial levels – is a sandbox-type game that lets you create silly ramps, perform silly jumps, explode in a silly manner, and have a rip-roaring good time along the way.
The further I got into the Bridge Constructor, the more it seems like there is little or no fun to be had unless you construct a bridge exactly the way the developers wanted and make your way through the level exactly as they planned.
Before I finally gave up, I had unlocked the second vehicle. Did they give me a fast car, just to spice things up and force a dramatically different playstyle from the tow truck? Oh no. They gave me a heavier, slower one – the dump truck. I played one level with the dump truck, finished the second campaign of the game’s five and then contemplated shutting down for good.
What finally pushed me over the edge is that there’s no way for me to figure out what the game’s controls are short of loading into a level and poking at all the buttons. When I came back after a week’s break, I couldn’t remember what the buttons did. So, like any sensible person would, on the menu screen, I hit Rb to see what the settings were. What Bridge Constructor showed me was two sliders, one for music level and one for effects.
I chortled for a moment and then shut Bridge Constructor down forever. I have no intention of going back.
So, to sum this up …
I cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, recommend this game to anyone. Bridge Constructor seems like it has a great deal of potential but the unnecessary limitations, the linearity, the complete and utter lack of freedom make it feel more like work than fun.
It sounded like a wacky game, it seemed like a wacky game, and I was thoroughly looking forward to playing something bonkers. Instead, what I’m excited about now is getting back some of my Xbox’s hard drive space when I uninstall it.
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Perhaps the least fun I’ve ever had playing a video game.