Tiny Trax PSVR
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
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