Paint the town red. Or green. Or...
Trailblazers is presented like Jet Set Radio in hovercars, complete with ultra-funky soundtrack, character soundbites over text dialogue that tells the daft story, and cel-shaded cars racing around larger-than-life racetracks. At the core of the colourful presentation is the game’s big gimmick: the cars lay paint on the track. Drive over your colour and you’ll go faster; chain boosts and you can increase your top speed temporarily. So if you and your team can get an unbroken line of colour around the whole track, you can literally boost all the way to the end.
Unfortunately, this core mechanic doesn’t quite fulfil its potential for three reasons. First, colour only speeds you up – there’s no penalty for driving on a rival colour, which halves the tactical gameplay. Second, if you choose to lay paint, you lose your boost chain. If you’re behind, you need to lay paint to get boost, but doing so means you fall even further behind. As a result, whoever is in front normally stays there, which is frustrating. 1 And third, the only attack is a line of paint straight ahead of you, which will put rivals into a spin. No big splashes, no paint-stealing, no power-ups to turn entire swathes of colour in your favour.
Gimmick aside, the handling and track design don’t offer enough scope for skilful driving to keep you riveted, and the framerate is inconsistent2 on a standard PS4, making for a scrappy experience.
There’s potential here for a devilishly tactical racer, but the reality is dull and unbalanced. And when the ultrahappy soundtrack is pounding you with positivity, the mundane gameplay stands out even more. Justin Towell
FOOTNOTES1 Unless it’s you that’s in front, of course. In that case it’s a chain-boosting breeze. 2 Strangely, playing in split-screen – which works online too – is a smoother experience.
FORMAT PS4 ETA OUT NOW PUB RISING STAR GAMES DEV SUPERGONK