If there were no calendar to remind us what year we are in, we could have the doubt that we remained crystallized in the 90s. Crash Bandicoot is preparing to become number one again in the sales charts, Baywatch depopulated at the cinema while the trailer for the Jumanji sequel arrives on the net. And as the icing on the cake, the super-fast and Micro Machines are back.
Codemasters gets on the nostalgia bandwagon and brings to life a franchise that has been stuck for over 10 years. The ingredients are always the same: ultra-immediate playability, high challenge and a bit of healthy chaos that never hurts. This new chapter is strongly oriented towards multiplayer, as evidenced by the game options available from the beginning. In the Skirmish mode it is possible to challenge other human players in local multiplayer or alternatively a handful of pilots controlled by a decidedly combative Artificial Intelligence, bordering on the .
Alternatively, you can participate in quick matches against opponents from all over the world. Also in this case to complete the starting grid the game will fill in the gaps with computer controlled pilots, but in the post-launch weeks you should not have the problems of shortage of opponents encountered by us poor journalists in the period before the release in the shops.
In any case, the match-making system seemed rather fast, as well as the races that went off quite smoothly with some small slowdowns in the most hectic phases. We hope these good performances will stay the same even as the game gets busier.
Each player has their own card which summarizes the race statistics and which progresses the level of experience based on the results obtained. Each level up earns you a Prize Chest, which contains a series of bonuses with which you can customize your racing cars and races. These bonuses do not affect the performance of the vehicles in any way but allow you to customize the colors, the battle phrases, the death stamps that you will leave on the track and other such amenities.
Reached level 10 unlocks a new competitive mode, which in fact represents the juiciest part of Micro Machines World Series. This is a real championship, divided into categories and seasons. Forget about throwing yourself into this mode right away, though, unless you like being laughed at and raped (playfully speaking) for days on end.
The Codemasters title in fact requires practice to be assimilated to the fullest, especially in the travel of the tracks and in the handling of the various vehicles. Each vehicle has slightly different handling and weight characteristics. You will notice it almost immediately … and unfortunately in the worst possible way, with a slew of defeats and humiliating places outside the podium.
As you go on, however, you will begin to understand what kind of vehicle you prefer, whether the heavy but powerful GI Joe tank, the very fast hovercraft or all those nice and rounded vehicles that are positioned between these two categories. The circuits are, as always, set in “familiar” places, ranging from a chaotic kitchen where the ingredients are happily scattered on the tables, to a games room complete with chips and pretzels to act as obstacles.
The small vehicles differ from each other mainly for their road holding and the armament that can be used in battles.
Most of the tracks are similar to those seen in previous chapters but there are some nice additions. They range from the most linear paths but full of environmental obstacles to the more complex ones in which precision is essential. There are also some useful mini shortcuts to gain a few precious seconds, but at least initially it will be difficult to see them and make the most of them. Again it will be a matter of experience.
The races in Micro Machines World Series are never over, better not to breathe until you see the checkered flag flying above you. In fact, it is not uncommon to finish first in the last two corners to find yourself sixth (or worse) in a matter of seconds. In this sense, the game perfectly follows the style of its predecessors and will raise the rate of swearing in your homes to levels that have perhaps never been touched before.
At the competitions structured on the canonical 5 laps, battles alternate within closed arenas, in which each vehicle has the opportunity to unleash its own customized weapons. The aim in this case is to eliminate as many enemies as possible, being careful to dodge the opponent’s shots while running out of shots. It is obviously not the maximum of originality, but the fun is guaranteed thanks also to the presence of Deathmatch and Capture the Flag with an ancient flavor.
Much more unique and just as fun are the Elimination challenges. In these you have to try not to get too far behind until you disappear from the screen and whoever arrives at the end wins by making all the others disappear. The races are divided into various heats and each time starts from a different point of the track, with a higher view than that of traditional challenges.
Micro Machines World Series without an Internet connection is practically useless. Even to play against bots you will need to connect to the network.
The list of available options is completed by Special Events, which Codemasters will (hopefully) organize on a regular basis in the months to come. These will have different rules from time to time and will alternate with the standard events included in the game. Unfortunately, in the period in which we tested the game these events were not available so we reserve the possibility to judge them in the near future in a separate location.
Unfortunately, however, not all that glitters is gold. In fact, the number of tracks and vehicles available is not very high and even the design of some tracks could certainly have been more inspired. Surely you can’t complain about the launch price which falls into the budget category, but some more content would not have hurt.
Even technically, much more could be done. The Codemasters game certainly does not stand out for its attention to detail. Mind you, the tracks are full of more or less interactive elements but it is not uncommon to come across rather low resolution textures and frequent aliasing phenomena that give the game a little refined look.
The feeling of playing Micro Machines World Series is similar to going on a date with an ex after so many years. You expect to find the same feeling of the past but unfortunately this is not the case. What is missing is that “something” that many of us remembered but that it is difficult to frame after two decades.
Numerous licensed Hasbro products have been included in the game, from board games to GI Joe’s. The weapons are instead ?? sponsored ?? by Nerf.
The game is pretty damn fun and competitive, especially in multiplayer, but it could (and should?) Be more, how to say … consistent. A broader and more structured single-player mode would have been welcome, as would have been a few more tracks and a handful of alternative challenges. In the past, some old chapters also offered vehicles such as motorboats and boats of various kinds that competed on tracks dedicated to them, totally absent in this episode. We would not mind in this sense a TRUE return to the past, perhaps with juicy DLCs sold at affordable prices.