mi­cro ma­chines world tour

Fans will rage against the (mi­cro) ma­chine

XBox: The Official Magazine - - START - Justin Tow­ell

If you’re of a cer­tain age (say 35-40) you’ll prob­a­bly have had a strong emo­tional re­sponse to turn­ing the page and see­ing screen­shots of lit­tle toy cars rac­ing around desk tops. Don’t worry, this means your nos­tal­gia gland is func­tion­ing cor­rectly. But sadly it’s nowhere near the tri­umphant re­turn it should have been.

On paper Mi­cro Ma­chines World Tour seems to do ev­ery­thing right. You race around ce­real boxes, gaspow­ered hobs and ZX Spec­trum game cases em­bla­zoned with the ’80s Code­mas­ters logo. You bounce over the Hun­gry Hun­gry Hip­pos box thanks to a li­cens­ing deal with Has­bro. The old cast of char­ac­ters like Dwayne and Spi­der re­turn with their pix­elly mugshots to give AI drones some per­son­al­ity. There are vis­ual gags ev­ery­where, and you get to smash ri­val rac­ers with ham­mers at­tached to the front of your car. This should be the Best Game Ever, but some­how it’s nowhere near it.

Firstly, it doesn’t run very well. At all. Some of the sight gags are lost be­cause the base frame rate, which looks like 30fps, is just too jud­dery to read text as you go by. That’s rough, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing how sim­ple the graph­ics are. Worse, fur­ther slow­down and freezes are ev­i­dent – whether on­line or off – to the point where even non-techie friends point out how choppy it is. There are bugs, too. We’ve seen su­per-charged AI cars, fre­quent con­nec­tion dropouts and

right Twelve­player races on­line are cool, but we didn’t ever see a grid full of play­erco ntrolled rac­ers. AI fills re­main­ing slots.

at one point a player spawned on top of it­self. Two iden­ti­cal cars, both ac­cept­ing the same steer­ing in­puts. This doesn’t feel like a fin­ished game.

Car con­trol feels woolly and un­re­spon­sive, and while you do get used to it, there’s al­ways that slight bar­rier be­tween you and the ac­tion, which is ex­ac­er­bated by lag on­line.

On the wrong track

The track de­sign lacks the imag­i­na­tion of pre­vi­ous games, with short­cuts so ob­vi­ous they just be­come the de­fault route, mak­ing for lit­tle tac­ti­cal play out­side of weapon use. The rac­ing weapons set is com­par­a­tively sparse, with only front-fac­ing guns, rear­ward bombs and that ever-en­ter­tain­ing ham­mer. At least that makes the rules ob­vi­ous, and with all the un­lock­able taunts, colours and death-stamps be­ing cos­metic-only, the play­ing field is al­ways equal, which is good.

With no sin­gle-player cam­paign what­so­ever, you can only race on­line, or lo­cally with friends and/ or AI in one-off races. On­line track se­lec­tion is ran­dom, there are no cham­pi­onships, no way of stay­ing in a good lobby, and no way to map steer­ing to the d-pad. Crim­i­nal.

Lo­cal, sin­gle-screen mul­ti­player bat­tles are a mis­er­able mess of ex­plo­sions and tiny cars, but the clas­sic elim­i­na­tion race is still a recipe for lo­cal fun, pro­vided ev­ery­one has sim­i­lar knowl­edge of the track lay­outs.

There is a de­cent on­line bat­tle mode, with well-bal­anced, car­spe­cific weapon sets and sim­ple game types like Cap­ture The Flag. But while it pro­vides tense mo­ments, bat­tling just isn’t as fun as rac­ing.

It’s won­der­ful to see Mi­cro Ma­chines back, but sad to see it floun­der­ing in maple syrup like this. You’ll be briefly en­ter­tained, but it never feels as as­sured, cocky or en­joy­able as its 16-bit pre­de­ces­sors. In fact, Toy­box Tur­bos may not have the brand­ing, but it is by far the better game.

“It should be the Best Game Ever, but some­how it’s nowhere near it”

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