I remember back in the early 90’s when me and my pals would set up the Sega Megadrive, stick the MIcro Machines cartridge in and lose hours upon hours playing winner stays on in what can only be described as the ultimate head to head racer at the time. With its addictive gameplay and novelty tracks, Micro Machines was a huge hit and one that has spanned many releases since, some of which were great and some that were disappointing. So with all that in mind, you can imagine my excitement when the return of Micro Machines was announced earlier this year and even more so when I was assigned to review it for the site.
First things first, Micro Machines World Series is predominantly an online only game with just a small single player element that is used mainly as a practice mode to try out different cars and getting used to all the tracks. It also has an offline multiplayer mode too but the rest of the modes are made up of online multiplayer mayhem in modes such as Race, Battle and Elimination. There is a quick play online mode that players can jump in to straight away and start getting competitive but once level 10 is reached, it then unlocks the Ranked online play which is where things start to get a little more serious. Both Quick Play and Ranked enable players to level up depending on what position they finish, the time in which they finish the race or how they fared in Battle mode and in doing so earns XP which contributes to levelling up where each time a player levels up it unlocks a loot box full of unlockables that you can assigned to the vehicles.
You might say that there is a severe lack of modes included in the game and you would be right because that was my initial thought, but the Micro Machines series has never been known for having plenty of game modes as it has always relied on its addictive and competitive gameplay that it is so famous for. Having said all that though I do believe that with the limited choice of modes that are on offer here I would of expected the price of the game to reflect this and be lower than what it has been released at and while I don’t have a problem with it just having a few game modes to choose from in total I do think that the price should of reflected that. Something that is still existent in this reboot though is the addictive, fun filled gameplay that has been so iconic for the franchise and it’s as finely tuned as it’s ever been before with classic moments like the glory of leading the race one minute then one wrong turn or an opponent blowing you up the next. There is no denying that the gameplay really shines here and it is certainly a game where concentration levels really need to be on point to ensure no mistakes are made if you happen to find yourself in first place. With various unlockables from loot boxes that are earned through the levelling system, vehicles can be customised to a players’ liking including sound bites and destruction stickers too. It is also worth noting that this game offers no micro transactions as every unlockable in the game can be earned merely through playing the game and progressing your level and rank.
There are 10 Race Tracks and 15 Battle Arenas in total and all of these have been based on classic tracks that will be very familiar to veterans of the series as they all offer a very varied experience and unique surroundings that are a faithful nod to the original game with a wide range of areas including the famous kitchen table, garden and pool table amongst others and each track has been designed really well with the typical teleporters, catapults and varied weapon pickups that all add to the fast paced gameplay. The only criticism with the track design is that the outlines are difficult to see in some of them and it can be easy to lose your way through no fault of your own, but once you get used to the tracks and get familiar with the layout this doesn’t cause as much of an issue. I am also slightly disappointed that there are no speedboat tracks like in the original where you could race around a hot tub dodging giant rubber ducks and trying not to get stuck in the bubble bath, but despite this being absent, a small part of me hopes that these tracks and vehicles may be added at a later date. The battle arenas are also designed really well and the game mode associated with them involves either working as a team or working alone to take down the other drivers in a destruction derby style but with weapons and perks that build up over time and can be released once the meter is filled and gives players things like a giant hammer or an air strike to take down multiple opponents at once. It is certainly a frantic mode and can become quite clustered in certain situations which can become frustrating and takes some of the fun away from what the mode should be offering.
With Micro Machines World Series mainly being an online game, I was expecting the overall online experience to be pretty solid, so it is with huge disappointment that I have to say that there were quite a few connection problems where severe lag issues were present and matches would sometimes be disconnected for no reason other than a server issue. I would say one in every three races or arena battles would have problems with lag and I would constantly see opponents jumping and glitching around a track which was incredibly off putting and ultimately disappointing. Despite these issues, when it worked, it worked really well and races were fast and enjoyable with massive amounts of that fun aspect that made Micro Machines so great back when it was first ever released and it is here that the finely tuned competitive gameplay shines but the server issues and disappointing lag has left a bad impression on what should be a solid online multiplayer racer.
There is a familiar look to Micro Machines visually as it is the typical top down art style that the series is known for and it is certainly eye catching with great attention to detail, especially on the tracks with ketchup, cereal pieces, oven hobs and many other things that may stand in your way and although it won’t win any awards for its visuals, Micro Machines World Series is a decent looking game that captures the essence of that classic Micro Machines look faithfully. The Audio is pretty standard and what you would expect with the toy box engine noises and hefty explosion sounds upon the use of weapons, but it is the addition of the legend that is Brian Blessed adding his voice to the game in various circumstances and although it doesn’t really add anything other than hearing that powerful voice shout out the fact that you just finished first or the very disappointing sound of his voice when you finish last, it is certainly a nice touch all the same and certainly adds a little more character and personality to the game.
I tried to go in to reviewing Micro Machines World Series with a nostalgia free frame of mind because I wanted to give it a fair assessment against other similar racers like the superb Mantis Burn Racing or the incredibly fun Table Top Racing and as much as I wanted to love the return of a racing legend, it sadly under-delivers where it should be on point. I am disappointed to say that it hasn’t quite lived up to the expectations and the potential of what it could have delivered on modern day consoles. As good as the core gameplay is, it is sadly let down by some online connection issues that really need addressing and I hope that the developers are taking note of community feedback to try and rectify where it is currently falling short. Micro Machines World Series isn’t a bad game at all but some fans who remember the series in its glory days may be disappointed in the reboot and could get frustrated with the inconsistencies of online multiplayer, but anyone looking for offline multiplayer won’t be disappointed at all in the gameplay but may get a little tired of the limited modes on offer. I am hoping these little issues are addressed because this game deserves to be great because it has that addictive fun filled gameplay that we all know and love but it unfortunately falls short in some main areas and the game that should of been great has ended up being average.