A long time ago, in a bedroom, fairly far away…
There has been a disturbance in the gaming scene… A fat Welsh kid, known for his skill and eating ability has annihilated everybody that stood before him. Many a conquerer who has stepped forward to challenge the Obese-Wan has failed. With the galactic multiplayer community laying in ruins, and no challengers left, there seems little hope…
Because I was the KING of Micro Machines V2 on the SEGA Genesis. YEAH! Kneel before my superior skills!
Ok, I’m done now.
Fast forward to the year 2017, and now Micro Machines, the king of local multiplayer, is back. After a 20-odd year hiatus and many failed attempts to bring the master-full V2 back from the dead, v3, I’m looking at you, Codemasters have finally unlocked the secret code on how to make a genuinely brilliant Micro Machines game once more.
But, a lot has changed in 20 years since the last game ruled the multiplayer world. No longer do we collect, 8 lads at a time, wires snaking like an angry black octopus across the floor in bedrooms that smelt so badly of teen sweat the Linx police would show up unannounced. Ahhh those were the good old days.
Now we have multiplayer that span across the globe and languages. Codemasters had concrete ton of work cut out for them to create a new V2 for a new generation.
So they handed off the task, and in stepped Just Add Water. Of Gravity Rush and
City’s Skylines fame, Just Add Water were tasked with the impossible, remaking one of the greatest multiplayer games off all time for the next generation of consoles.
DID they succeed?
Yes they did!
Read on to find out how, and why.
Game Play Stunner
One area that could easily have been messed up is the game play. In the past, developers have fudged with the formula, tweaked the handling, and turned their version of Mirco into a steaming pile off poo that couldn’t have been further from the frankly awesome game play of V2. Thankfully, (thank you, thank you, thank you) World Series has captured the brilliance and the subtleties of the handling model that worked so joyfully over 20 years ago, and it has been transplanted into the future, with perfect results.
Seriously, I think Just Add Water has stolen the DeLorean, shifted up to 88 miles per hour, and stolen the source code from Codemasters because wow, as far as handling goes, this IS V2.
What’s even more impressive is how well the game translated to the analogue stick. In the past, Micro Machines was controlled using the trusty D-Pad; when it’s pressed you know your turning until you lift your meaty thumb off. The analogue stick is more cunning, more devious than that, offering up so many degrees of turning freedom you’d be forgiven for thinking it would be overkill. With the D-Pad, you’re either turning or you’re not. There is no in-between
I honestly thought this could be a game breaker, but it’s not at all. In fact, the new degrees of freedom the analogue steering brings to the series adds both subtly and power. Whether sliding around a corner or clipping an Apex, top down driving has never been this comfortable. The feeling of teasing your car around the corners at break-neck speeds and not putting a tire wrong for a 5 full laps is intoxicating.
Whether you are powering around a hair pin in a tank, or slipping and sliding in a hovercraft as if every course is an ice rink, the game just feels so right. It made me feel empowered, in control of my destiny on the track. Not like some modern racers where in the name of realism the car seems to have developed a mind of its own, unwilling, unable to be wrestled to control.
Like Mario Kart, Micro Machines provides just enough control, just enough slide, just enough mayhem to make every race, every flicked back end round a corner feel joyously addictive. You will be hooked on it like a crack addict in a back ally, hidden in the dark, needing just one more hit of adrenaline that only Micro Machines: World Series can deliver.
On top of the stunning handling, you get to slide your vehicle of choice around a riveting selection of tracks. Each of which is as beautiful to look at as they are devious to drive on.
Additionally, this New Micro Machines comes with a number of basic weapons and power-ups to pick up as you slalom around the track. It’s a change from the norm of V2 on the Mega Drive where the ill-fated military edition of Micro Machines introduced weapons without much success. However the weapons deployed throughout World Series are subtle enough not to dominate a game but powerful enough to change the outcome if used correctly.
Mercifully these little changes don’t detract from what is a pure and enjoyable reincarnation of the unmatched Micro Machines driving model.
Micro Machines V2, the ultimate table top racer, had some of the most iconic tracks of all time. From dodging baked beans on a breakfast bar to potting balls on the infamous Pool table, Micro Machines was nothing if not creative.
The creative use of the normal, everyday and mundane household objects, blown up to massive proportions for our favorite micro vehicles to race around is still a joy. And that continues in World Series, and damn, Micro Machines have never looked so good.
Made from the unity engine, this is the best looking game I have ever had the pleasure of ogling that was made in the mobile game engine. Unity, though a fantastic, easy to use, anhd developer friendly, can make games look a little dated at times and has a reputation of making its games look the same.
That is thankfully not the case with Micro Machines World Series. The game, exudes class from the very moment the camera panes around. The tracks pop with a soft realism that would not be amiss outside of a block buster triple A. On the breakfast bar course, the overwhelming spit and spat of the oven and lush look of the food is going to make you pause and go cook food. Baked beans bounce around the table, attempting to slow you down but drive long enough you’ll soon learn the tricks of avoiding them. You might even learn how to use them to slaughter an opponent to gain your victory. The tempting toast running alongside is seriously mouthwatering, the butter melts, oozing over the slices of bread is just too tempting to resist; yes, you guessed, I had to get up and make toast. Lest I’d have been butting the screen with my finger tips trying to reach out to grab the digital version. It all looks so yummy, but use these tasty treats wisely and you can stay well-ahead of all of your opponents.
Move away from the breakfast bar and you’ll find the other tracks are just as mesmerizing. The trip to the garden in winter is sublime. A blend of subtle garden features fitted with crazy ice patches makes this a must-play course. There’s a ludicrous section where cars are tearing up chunks of ice as they skate across frozen puddles as bit by bit the puddles break away causing a major disaster for the person behind. Obviously I was okay, I was first…
And the ice isn’t just for show, it goes one step further, bringing in a real sense of loosing control on ice. The cars, tanks, whatever, lose grip as they transition from the mud, spinning around corners, hairpin tight turns that can turn a winner into a loser very quickly. Bambi on ice comes to mind.
Move in from the cold outside, and your tempted on to the maze of the pool table. The drivers fate is determined by a series of twists and turns, deadly cue sticks, and strewn pool balls that make boulder out of Indiana Jones look like a hamster ball.
All together there are 10 tracks in the game, not a huge number, BUT not a bad number either, every single one of them is a varied collection of the the everyday household minutia blown up into ludicrous proportions that offers some of th best racing this side of Burnout. (Where is the new Burnout anyway?)
You maybe sat there thinking that’s not a lot of tracks, but please do remember, this game is $30 or 20 quid in good old GB. And I think that the game is primed and ready for a load of DLC love. If they could slip me 4 new tracks for $10, I’d literally run to their office and scream at them to take my money.
Micro Machines: World Series stays true to the Micro Machines formula by packing a plethora of different cars into multiplayer mayhem.
World Series comes with 12 different vehicles to pick, ranging from the heavy but durable tank, to the slip-slide hover-craft. Some fans will however be upset that the number of different cars seems to be lower in this new incarnation of the game. V2’s vehicle roster numbered in the mid 30’s. So where have all the cars gone?
Instead of large number of different cars, Just Add Water has opted to increase the breadth and depth of each vehicle. For starters, each car has a unique handling model that sets each vehicle apart. The aforementioned tank, hardly slides at all instead proving grippy, and road hugging. But, as a trade off, it’s turning circle suffers.
Other vehicles strike a balanced tone of grip and slide. The game contains, what turned out to be my favorite vehicle, a fire truck. It’s long body readily slides out around corers, creating beautiful power sliding arches that blend into each other around the track like some child’s elaborate doodle.
And at the far end of the spectrum you have the hover-craft. A vehicle, that by its very nature, drops grip like an unwanted lollipop. For sheer slaloming fun, the hover-craft can’t be beaten as it can be thrown around corners without any loss of speed what-so-ever. However, in anything less than skilled hands, it readily slides off the table edges into oblivion.
Additionally each car, comes with unique special weapons and abilities that can only be used in the World Series’ new battle mode. For example, some cars might have machine guns or rocket launchers as their main weapon. And they have a number of other abilities like temporary shields or health regeneration. Each car also has one more trick up its sleeve.
Each vehicle in Micro Machines comes with an extra special ability that has to be charged in battle mode by destroying opponents. This ability is usually very powerful and is best saved for last ditch save and win attempts. For example, there is a cop car in the game that has the special ability to make a police helicopter follow it around. Whenever an enemy car comes close, the Police Chopper will automatically fire on it and destroy it. A very handy ability to have, especially if you have the aiming skills of sloth.
And the depth for each car is extended even further by an elaborate array of collectibles that are available to purchase. These collectible can be unlocked in two ways. First, you can unlock loot chests by simply playing the game online. Every so often, you level-up and as a reward a fat chest of booty is yours to open.
The other way is to simply use coins to buy items, coins can be acquired either as a reward from chests or by duplicate items being automatically sold.
But what do all of these different collectibles do?
Each car has a number of different skins that can be selected. They can be simple color changes all the way up to fundamental changes in the way the machine looks and works. For example, the tank usually has one turret, but some skins can give it two. Other, vehicles can completely change in appearance. For example, there is a car which looks much like a Porsche in British racing green, but unlock a certain skin and it will morph into a modern super car.
Additionally there are unlock-able voice celebrations and new death markers for multiplayer games.
The one area that is going to disappoint a few of you is local multiplayer. Yes, you can still have 4 players sitting around the TV and have an absolute blast. The problem is your severely limited to what game modes you can play. There is no access to traditional races. There is no multiplayer split screen to be found in Micro Machines. I don’t know if it’s a limitation of Unity or with current consoles, but split screen is sadly missing. However, there is a saving grace: You do do get elimination mode.
In 4 player elimination, everyone begins in the same place and you race as you would normally, trying to out run the other players, or use the power-ups to destroy them. As the players race, one poor sod inevitably get left behind and is removed, temporarily, from the race. But, if you are knocked out you do get a chance to hover above the other players with a target marker and try and blow them up, which is pretty neat! The remaining players battle for first position until only 1 remains. This process is repeated until a certain threshold of points is reached and a victor is declared. It’s tremendously satisfying and is tense gaming at its best. It’s just sad this is effectively your only option offline.
Unfortunately online play is not going to be your local multiplayer savior either. Anline play is limited to only local solo play. There is no taking all your mates online for a game. I understand why they made this a design choice. It would be very easy for 4 players to manipulate the online system so one player always wins.
No Single player
One area that I must warn you of is Micro Machines, essentially, has NO Single player content.
Yes I said that right, and I mean it. If that’s a game breaker for you, turn around go read another review I have written.
All you get to do on your lonesome is play single one off races. There is no career mode. No tournaments that need entering. Nothing.
So again, if you want single player content, look elsewhere.
Online multiplayer Mayhem
Online multiplayer is the place to be when playing Micro Machines: World Series. With Just Add Water removing every unidentifiable crumb of single player, they desperately needed to add something to the game, some thing to keep me interested, something that turned out to be very special indeed.
The bones and the meat, the organs and muscle of Micro Machines: World Series is all housed inside the online multiplayer. Everything is geared towards it, the tracks, the game modes, the car handling. The design of all aspects is toward one effort: online play.
And it doesn’t disappoint.
On first starting the game, you are presented with two online options. The first, grayed out and unusable, is ranked online matches. This mode is one of the best ranking systems I have seen in a game, but more on that in a little while. The second mode is unranked online play. This is where you will begin your foray into the online maelstrom that is Micro Machines racing.
Click on start a ‘non ranked game’, and not a lot happens, at first you would think that the game hasn’t registered anything at all or even crashed. But look toward the top left corner and you will find a little box informing you it’s looking for a match.
While the game busily burrows away through the tunnels of the net looking to hook me up with like minded Micro Machine fanatics, I was free to look through the menus, browse my stats, look at all the cars. Then, I was suddenly whisked away to a loading screen that gave me some of the most amazing hints I’ve ever had the privilege to read in a video game. It included gems like, ‘Whoever crosses the line first is the winner!’ Glad they told me that one, I would have been so confused.
After taking notes on the loading screen to learn how racing works, I got to choose my car. The fire engine is my weapon of choice, then I got dumped into a game. 11 other racers greeted me and off we went on a table top, full English breakfast slide fest, that ended in my inevitable victory.
Accepting the accolades of my well earned, if slightly easy, victory, I was greeted at the end with an XP screen. By winning races I slowly built up my Level until I was experienced enough to join the big leagues: Ranked Matches.
To play ranked matches you have to reach level 10, which is no easy feat. It took me a good 3 hours of solid vehicular slaughter to attain such a lofty XP level.
When I did, the Ranked Match button was flooded with color like a rainbow-full sky and off I went to race properly.
Here, the game shows you how far you are progressing in the world of Micro Machines. Players are split into different leagues based on ability, the more races you win, the higher up the league system you get. At first you start on Bronze Level, but you can work your way all the way up beyond Platinum.
This is a great incentive in itself to keep playing, keep getting better. However, The game goes a step further, by offering unique goodies if you finish the season in certain places.
You can be rewarded extra chests to unlock booty for your cars or you can be given completely unique new car outfits that can only be won by competing online. It’s a simple system that rewards every player, no matter your ability you will always receive something.
And I loved every minute of it. But it’s a shame that you need PS Plus or Xbox Live to play the Real Micro Machines.
Yes it’s a shame there isn’t more offline content, but the online is the star of this show, and it makes Micro Machines worth every penny.
The weight of the world was sitting heavy on the shoulders of Just Add Water. With the widely loved, and still played, Micro Machines V2, they had almost nothing to gain from making this sequel and everything to lose.
But Just Add Water have created a resounding success. The game may lack a meaty real single player offline experience, but the multiplayer more than makes up for this.
Yes, the local couch play is a bit of let down, with only elimination mode available, though I must admit that in the time I played the game locally with friends, it was still rip roaring, rear up from your seat, throw your arms in celebration fun.
But take the game online and race with 11 other players and the game writhes to life, and bursts fourth with an over the top dollop of miniaturized fun. If your happy enough to hot-swap, each player at home can take it in turns to race against others online gamers. The game is still immensely fun this way. Yes it’s a shame that all the players could not have played, yes it’s a shame that there isn’t split screen racing.
But when the online portion of the game is so adjectively satisfying, everything else is forgiven.
And when you add to the nano mix, 12 individual and characterful cars that all handle in subtle but unique ways, 10 frankly terrificly themed tracks, and 15 battle arenas, I think you would agree, for the meager amount of money asked for the game, there is a bounty of content waiting to be played.
For me, Just Add Water has achieved the impossible, they have made a game that lives up to, and in many ways surpasses the great Micro Machines V2.
Well done Just Add Water, take a bow.
Give them a round of applause then go buy their game.
-Stunning graphics, best use of unity yet
-Battle mode is a blast if a little bonkers
-Online racing is wonderful fun
-Loads of collectibles
-Online elimination is tense
-Ranked online has great league system
-Good selection of cars and weapons
-Car handling is perfect
-Tracks are fantastic
-Lots of value at a great price
-Lots of potential for future content
-Unique items to be won in ranked mode
-Hardly any offline single player content
-Can’t access ranked racer immediately
-No local co-op racing
-Overuse of NURF branding
I recommend Micro Machines: World Series as a must buy if you play online, and a try-before-you-buy if you play offline.