When it comes to the Xbox One, VooFoo Studios is one of my favourite developers. They were the first to bring us an outstanding pool title and then came the first Texas hold-em to grace the console. Moving away from popular past time games, VooFoo Studios have entered the top down racing genre with their first self-published title Mantis Burn Racing. This may not be Micro Machines but it sure does come close, probably the closest we have on the Xbox One.
The best description of Mantis Burn Racing I could give would be to say it is a mix of Micro Machines, Super Off-Road and a little bit of Skidmarks from back in the Amiga days. This is fast pace action packed racing straight out from some of the best arcade titles from an era gone by. The modes on offer in in the game are Career, Local racing and Online Racing. The latter two are pretty much self-explanatory but the Career mode is where you will spend a lot of your time to begin with so let’s take a look at this in more detail.
Your career spans across seven seasons with each season having a plethora of races with the A.I becoming more difficult. You have three Rookie seasons, three Pro seasons and one Veteran season. Each season is marked out with a path which has multiple routes, where you can collect car components for upgrading – more on this later. The type of races you will come across are Sprint; Race; Endurance; Knockout; Accumulator; Overtake; Time Trial; Hot Lap and Championship. These are no different from what you would find in other titles of this genre. The only thing missing to give it that proper Micro Machines feel is the mode where the driver has to get a certain distance out in front to get points.
As you play through the career each race will come with a mix of three objectives, with one of them always being to win. The other two can include things like smashing x number of objects, not using boost, not hitting any cars and so forth. I have to say the objectives later in the career do become challenging but they really suit the type of race in question. The reason for these is to collect Gears which you will need to advance through the seasons. The game also has a levelling up system, where each level will give you some G which is the in game currency used to buy and upgrade cars. The ways you level up is by your driving and destroying track objects etc.
Mantis Burn Racing has nine cars in total split between the seven seasons. You will always have a light, medium and heavy car. While some of the cars don’t vary that much in appearance they do all have their own driving style. The controls are solid with great arcade handling; you will drift quite a lot in this game so the quicker you master it the better. Where VooFoo Studios have applied their own special touch is in the cars upgrade system, which does actually resemble the basics of an RPG style affair. As you play through the career mode and level up you will obtain components. Each of the cars come with spare slots which you will fill with components, They will have a mix of effects on the cars speed, acceleration, grip, suspension and boost. Once you fill these up you will then pay a set amount to upgrade unlocking more spare slots. The cars can be upgraded quite a few times but you best pay attention to how you mix the components. You can scrap components for some G but so far it really isn’t worth it. The draw back in this system though is that to remove a component from your car it must be scrap. This impacts the progression slightly as you will need to try and save components for further into the season.
When it came to the online play of Mantis Burn Racing, at the time of writing this review, things went without a hiccup. Races can start as soon as two people are in the room or you can wait till you have a complete line-up of eight drivers. You can change your cars colour from the pre-set choice of colours but it would have been great if you could customize the colour yourself. When you are playing online you will be using your car in the current upgrade form. Now this sounds good in theory but I have not played enough online games to see how it is in practice. You can tie games to a certain class, i.e., rookie, pro and veteran, but it will come down to who has upgraded their car the best. This may mean that races could become uncompetitive.
When it comes to the number of tracks in the game there are eight on offer each with the forward and reverse layout. When you are creating a race you will also see an option for weather and time of day. At the moment you can’t change this but with the promise of future paid and free DLC it looks as though future tracks could make these options available. The tracks span across three destinations, you have dusty mine mountains, a Monaco style harbour location and finally a street location that includes a path around a mountain hillside. The graphics in the game a very impressive for a top down racer and you could certainly say almost life like, but going by VooFoo Studios previous titles I didn’t expect anything else. The only two issues I have in the graphics front is that when you come to parts where you are inside like the mines etc., it can be quite dark and difficult to see, some readjustment on your TV settings may be needed. The angle of the camera can make driving the street circuit a bit tricky with some of the taller buildings as well.
The Good Things
- True to form arcade driving from the 90’s.
- Seven season career mode.
- As close to Micro Machines as you can get at the moment.
And The Bad
- There is not a massive difference in the cars.
- Camera angle can become a little trouble some in the street tracks.
- Mantis Burn Racing is a solid little top down racer and with the promise of free and paid DLC the game can flourish. While it isn’t Micro Machines the team have done a stellar job to bring that feel and fans of the 90’s arcade racing scene will find this pleasurable. The RPG style upgrading is a great idea even if you may not get some things right. I would have preferred the option to uninstall the components rather than scraping them as the cash you get back is minimal. Online play was a smooth affair and with a full eight players it can get exciting.
It may not be Micro Machines but it the closest yet.