Kurt
Jul 04, 2017
Publisher: Codemasters
Developer: Codemasters
Review platform: Micro Machines World Series was reviewed on a standard Xbox One with code provided by the publisher
Release date: Jul 4, 2017
The year’s 2004. My brother has just picked himself up a new PS2 Slim and an array of games to go with it. The likes of GTA III and Gran Turismo were a given but among all these big AAAs lied an underdog. That underdog wasn’t a big budget title but rather a small scale arcade racer made by a group of plucky British developers. That underdog wasn’t even a PS2 title as it originally launched in 1997. That underdog was none other than Micro Machines V3.

I’m sure when we all think of classic arcade racers the likes of Need for Speed Most Wanted, Burnout 3 and Pole Position probably come to mind. I agree with those suggestions but will also remain adamant that Micro Machines should get a shout too. 6-year-old me adored this game and that love would continue on as I picked up Micro Machines V4 a couple years later. It was just so different to the other options on the market at the time. Young me eagerly waited for V5 or even a spin-off, assuming it’d just be a few more years until its inevitable creation. It wasn’t. V4 debuted all the way back in 2006 and yet a whole decade later and still nothing. Was Micro Machines dead? Oh no, not at all. Out of absolutely nowhere Codemasters made my inner 6-year-old very happy as Micro Machines World Series was announced. Even better I was told I’d have the honour of reviewing it for ICXM early on and so my hype was officially through the roof. Why do I feel the need to tell you all this? Well it really sets the tone for just how underwhelmed I’ve ended up being.



When I think Micro Machines I instantly imagine tracks upon tracks of unique environments with an expansive single-player focus. Hundreds of cars within several classes and many race types to enjoy. I’m sure to can get an idea then of how disappointed I was when I noticed a lack of single-player on the main menu. I press the big play button in front of me and I’m greeted with four options. First of all, I try Quick Play which lets me pick one of three modes and then shoves me in an online lobby. Huh. Well I’m sure Special Event might be different. Except it’s actually just another online mode. Ranked Match? Didn’t have access to that at the time but yes, it’s online. I quickly realised there’s only one offline mode and that’s Skirmish which is effectively pointless.

Micro Machines World Series is an online only crate sourced loot game. I can hardly believe it. That’s right. You know the systems Overwatch and CS: GO use? That is what Micro Machines has become in 2017. I just don’t understand where on earth this design viewpoint came from. It’s this exact thing that makes Skirmish pointless too. Since you get crates through levelling up and you don’t get experience for Skirmish there’s no incentive to touch any single-player modes within World Series. I’m not going to say this alone makes Micro Machines an awful game but it was a misjudgement of
design on Codemasters’ behalf. This is not what most fans of the series wanted.



Still, there’s no point crying over it now. What is World Series itself actually like? Regardless of its questionable model, it isn’t an awful addition to the franchise. For starters I will admit the customisation options on launch are fairly good. There’s only twelve vehicles but with each having over ten skins you are given a lot of cosmetic choice. Within each vehicle you can also pick voice lines and gloats for when you wreck an opponent as well as a grave stamp for when they wreck you. In races these vehicles all seem to handle similarly but in the all new battle mode they behave very differently. G.I. Joe Mobat, a tank class, is slow but a heavy hitter whilst Yu Saiko, a Japanese sports car class, is a fast scouting class with lower fire power. I don’t think battle mode really makes great use of these abilities but they can still be fun enough to use. All the vehicles have their own ultimate abilities too which are pretty amusing. I particularly enjoyed pushing people around with the fire truck’s water cannon. Classic video game trolling tactic right there.

It's not the battling I’m here for though, it’s the racing. Fortunately, when I actually got into the race mode I found it very fun. A little frustrating at first perhaps as I didn’t know the power ups or tracks but it didn’t take me long to pick things up. World Series is very accessible in that regard. The driving feels satisfying enough and it gives room for more competitive players to improve to a higher standard. Whilst not core to the experience, things like racing lines and braking points can make you much quicker than someone who just holds down the throttle all race. I did find that the 12 man races can get a little too hectic at times as I was being chain killed down the field. It’s hardly uncommon to go from 1st to 12th in a few seconds. Think Mario Kart BS mentality and this isn’t too different.



There’s also an elimination mode which is properly classic Micro Machines at its finest. One screen and you get eliminated if you are rather destroyed by a power up or fall behind and hit the edge of the screen. This is also where World Series might provide some party game fun as you can play local up to four people on this mode for some guaranteed top banter. The only other real thing worth mentioning is the loot boxes which are pretty standard for a modern online only game. I will give Codemasters credit for not making these boxes purchasable with real money when, since they’re cosmetic only, they really could have gotten away with it. I suppose all that sweet Hasbro money must have been enough for throwing references to everything they own in the game at some point. There’s even a Hungry Hungry Hippos battle stage where you can get gobbled up if you go too near the edges. To be fair though that’s actually pretty brilliant so licence abuse more I guess.

Summary

This puts me in a difficult position because I’m currently stuck with two viewpoints on this game. On one hand, this isn’t what I wanted. As a fan I am pretty disappointed with the direction they’ve taken and I’m certain this is going to drastically lower my play time. On the other hand, it’s still not a bad game. Racing is fun and mechanically speaking I don’t see all that much wrong with World Series at all. There’s enough game modes to get by and customisation options are plentiful for now considering more will probably come later. There’s just that 6-year-old inside me who is crying right now because the game he’s waited 11 years for is just alright. A truly underwhelming experience from start to end.
Our score: 6.5/10

Decent - A game that may have niche appeal, flawed but enjoyable.
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