First of all, I should apologise to my editor, the readers of GameGrin, and to all three of the people who actually look forward to my reviews. This is not a timely publication from me. I’ve put it off for as long as possible, but it’s high time I admitted something I didn’t want to admit: the resurrection of Micro Machines is nowhere near as brilliant as I expected.
If you watched our video preview of the title a few weeks ago, you’ll know that here at the GameGrin offices, we were all eagerly awaiting this game. It had the retro charm of the Micro Machines games that we loved from the olden days, it had extra Hasbro licences like Nerf and Hungry Hungry Hippos added, it had new game modes; it even had Brian Blessed! There’s no way that this could go wrong, right? Sadly, that’s not entirely the case.
First off, I should say that this isn’t a terrible game by any sense of the word. If it was the first title in the series, I would probably be saying that this isn’t a bad start. But this is a game with decades of history, and as such, I expected much more than was delivered. It all feels a little bit sparse, as if it wasn’t quite finished before publishing it.
There are 25 tracks, only ten of which are racing tracks. The original Micro Machines on the Mega Drive had 26. That 16-bit classic also had a full career mode, this title has to option to play online or offline against bots, although it does have a few modes in addition to the racing such as capture the flag and battle arenas. These seem to have had the most care and attention put into them, with some nice looking arenas, albeit a few with a lot of asset re-use, but that’s always been the case with Micro Machines anyway. The problem is, whilst these battle modes are a nice fun distraction, they’re not as fun as the racing, so you’re unlikely to spend that much time playing them. I’d rather have more racing tracks personally. It’s like someone’s baked you a nice cake, but instead of icing it, they covered it in chicken gravy.
There are a few little niggles that persist like a bad rash throughout. The scale of things is wrong, with unusually small skateboards and tiny slices of toast juxtapositioned against cars that are clearly too large. Micro Machines are meant to be micro, hence the name. These are more like Hot Wheels in size, and whilst it’s not a deal breaker, it’s something you notice every now and then and it breaks the immersion when you do. There’s some annoying emotes which certain players like to spam, and no way to mute them; this is irritating enough to make me stop playing on occasion. Also Brian Blessed’s involvement is limited to about 30 seconds worth of speech samples. They didn’t even get him to record any position numbers past “third”. Meaning that if you finish fourth or below, he just says “you finished…” and it sounds like he saw something shiny and it interrupted his train of thought.
The good thing is that the racing is just as much fun as it always was, with the classic top-down view of the Mega Drive games being favoured as opposed to the “following camera” type view in v3 and v4. The cars are floaty and slippery just like those older titles, so it’ll take a while to get used to it if you’ve been playing more realistic racing games, but once you do, you’ll be sliding and shunting around the track to your heart’s content.
There’s plenty of power-ups littered around, all branded with the Nerf logo. It’s a little bit heavy on the marketing side, and personally I felt there were more weapons around than was strictly necessary. There were many occasions I found myself smashing through another bonus box, only to be awarded nothing because I still hadn’t used the last weapon I acquired. There were also far too many occasions where I finished in 12th after being smashed, shot and blown up repeatedly with no chance of recovery.
The meat and bones of a Micro Machines title of course is the playing with your friends aspect. This title doesn’t skimp there, with local multiplayer for up to four players and online matches featuring up to 12. Sadly, within a week of the game’s release, the majority of players in pretty much every online game are bots, with real players being in the minority. I never saw more than five other humans in a race, and on more than one occasion I ended up in an “online” game entirely against bots. I’m not averse to playing with bots, but it does defeat the object of it being an online mode. It took no longer than about a minute to find most of these games too, so if they just allowed the wait timer to go a bit higher, I imagine games would be relatively full: as it is, it’s more barren than a Milton Keynes nightclub.
I really wanted this to be a brilliant return to form, and I do intend on continuing to play it, but it’s not the triumphant recrudescence that I had hoped for. It’s a remarkably average game that doesn’t put enough emphasis on what the series is best at, and adds in a load of extra game modes that nobody asked for instead. It’s got potential, and maybe with some DLC and a few patches, it will be great, but for now, it’s just not as good as the earlier entries in the series.
Micro Machines World Series (Reviewed on PlayStation 4)
Game is enjoyable, outweighing the issues there may be.
This promised so much more than it delivered. It's a good game, but it's just not as good as its predecessors. Whilst Micro Machines World Series is good fun, it doesn't offer enough to elevate it to the status of its forefathers.