Tiny Trax PSVR

EDGE - - GAMES - De­vel­oper/pub­lisher Fu­turlab For­mat PSVR Re­lease Out now

The pur­suit of speed has con­sis­tently been at the heart of Fu­turlab’s out­put to date, so a slot-car rac­ing game isn’t quite the di­gres­sion it first seems. Nev­er­the­less, the sim­plic­ity of the pas­time and a more con­ven­tion­ally fam­ily-friendly aes­thetic had us won­der­ing if Fu­turlab had gone soft. The re­sults of our first grand prix quickly prove oth­er­wise: only a last­sec­ond over­take on the fi­nal cir­cuit spares us the ig­nominy of fin­ish­ing last in ev­ery race.

Then again, an in­ad­e­quate tu­to­rial sug­gests a rather eas­ier ride than the one you’re about to get. Un­like a Scalex­tric set, you can squeeze the trig­ger that con­trols your car’s ac­cel­er­a­tion for the du­ra­tion with­out your ve­hi­cle ca­reer­ing from the track. These ve­hi­cles won’t au­to­mat­i­cally ne­go­ti­ate cor­ners, ei­ther: you need to steer into them with the ana­logue stick, switch­ing to the in­side lane by jab­bing Square. Keep your car an­gled just so as you take each bend and you’ll top up your boost me­ter, the suc­cess­ful man­age­ment of which is os­ten­si­bly the dif­fer­ence be­tween vic­tory and de­feat.

That’s more to con­cern your­self with than you’d per­haps ex­pect, and there’s the small mat­ter of track­ing your ve­hi­cle. Cir­cuits don’t quite sur­round you as the blurb sug­gests, but since your car’s pre­cise ori­en­ta­tion

VROOM ROOM

While Tiny Trax un­der­lines what VR can bring to third­per­son games, its menu of­fers a first­per­son view of a charm­ingly clut­tered den be­long­ing, seem­ingly, to a young car en­thu­si­ast. Medals and tro­phies you earn by win­ning sin­gle races and cups – we got there even­tu­ally – are proudly dis­played next to a large mon­i­tor. Ve­hi­cle se­lec­tion, mean­while, is pleas­antly tac­tile, as you ro­tate a track that rises up in front of you to take your pick – though their dif­fer­ences are merely cos­metic. is so cru­cial to main­tain­ing velocity you’ll need to look left, lean right and peer up­ward by turns, as the cour­ses loop, arc and spiral in a man­ner that makes Mario Kart 8’ s track de­signs look tame. The trade-off of this more dis­tant per­spec­tive is that it’s not nearly as ex­hil­a­rat­ing to, for in­stance, plunge down a sheer drop into an un­der­wa­ter sec­tion; the noise as you break the sur­face, how­ever, is weirdly sat­is­fy­ing.

The bright, chunky art is a fine fit for VR, but while the first two cups have their mo­ments it’s clear Fu­turlab is more at home in the sci-fi en­vi­ron­ments of the third. An alien track is all milky peach land­scapes, with aqua­ma­rine flora grow­ing around pink-red rocks; a moon­base cir­cuit has you cir­cling the or­ange beam of a giant laser drill; sand­wiched be­tween them is a course that echoes the crisp lu­mi­nes­cence of Tron: Le­gacy.

If only it played as well as it looks. There’s some strate­gic depth in how you man­age your boost, but feed­back is lack­ing. Study­ing the in­con­sis­tent AI re­veals very lit­tle – be­yond their in­abil­ity to ne­go­ti­ate spi­rals – as does watch­ing op­po­nents in mul­ti­player, since you can only ever hear your own en­gine. In on­line races it evokes the child­like joys of slot-car rac­ing with­out the faff of re­plac­ing ve­hi­cles that have left the track. But just as over­steer­ing makes your car slow dra­mat­i­cally, Tiny Trax’s mi­nor mis­cal­cu­la­tions can bring the high-velocity fun to a grind­ing halt.

Since tracks stretch deep into the screen, it’s not al­ways easy to pick out your ve­hi­cle, and oc­ca­sion­ally scenery will briefly ob­scure the rac­ers. It’s less of an is­sue on PS4 Pro, the sharper im­age mak­ing all the dif­fer­ence

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