Arcade racing is a genre that has sometimes struggled on the Xbox One. Looking at the ratings for games like Grand Prix Rock 'N Racing
and Coffin Dodgers
will tell you pretty much all that you need to know. The nostalgic style of gameplay has often not been done justice, unfortunately, but there's still time to change that. In comes Mantis Burn Racing
, a new top down racer that promised us fun, good racing and great graphics. The question is, would it deliver on these promises?
Can this racer deliver where others have failed
As expected, the game is split into three main modes: career, local multiplayer and online multiplayer. A lot of your time will be spent with the career mode as this offers the most variety in play. The career is split up into seasons that are laid out in a map across which you move from race to race while collecting gears. You can earn up to six gears per race event; you get three gears for winning the event and then two and one respectively for doing particular side objectives. Objectives can vary from anything to finishing a race without boosting, drifting for a certain amount of time, or completing the race in a certain amount of time. They add an extra incentive to your racing, giving you something more to aim for than simply winning the race and challenging you to change your racing style accordingly.
The race events come in many different forms. You begin with the basic races, which are simply racing alongside other cars and trying to win. As you progress through the seasons, the events become more varied and winning isn't always the only aim. Knockout races eliminate the last player at the end of the lap, whereas racers earn earning points faster when they are in higher positions in accumulator races. Time trials challenge you to get the fastest possible lap time.
The variety in events and objectives helps to keep the game fresh and interesting, when the otherwise straightforward racing can get repetitive and boring, something that is needed if you want to collect XP, level up and collect all of the gears that are on offer.
Which is your best event?
Some events will force you to use a certain class of car, whereas others will let you pick you own class - you will have to learn which cars are better suited to which event. The game offers three different classes of car: light, medium and heavy. Light cars are fast and nimble; the heavy ones are slower and slightly hefty in their movements, and the medium ones sit nicely in between the other two. The handling of the light and medium cars is fairly easy and quick to understand, but the heavy cars take longer to control well. Alongside this, if you crash into a wall or an obstacle then you might struggle to get back on track quickly because of the awkward reversing.
If you are struggling to win races then you might need to upgrade your cars. Upgrades are scattered about the career map and can be earned by completing the races that surround them. They can also be gained through levelling up as they are scattered along the XP levelling line. XP is steadily earned across races from winning, performing tricks on the track and setting quick times, although the grind to XP level 50 won't be a quick one. The upgrades themselves can be applied to any of the cars that you own and, consequently, the cars can be levelled up if they have enough upgrades on them. While you can choose which of your cars to level up the most, the problem is that if you sink too much into the one car then the others may struggle to keep up in their races because of it.
Light is quick and nimble, where as Heavy trudges along
Not only are there two main environments in which you'll be racing -- desert and city -- the tracks themselves are also very similar. A lot of the time you'll be racing on the same track but will either be going in reverse or will be starting at a different place. You feel that more effort could have been made to add in a few more tracks or a few more environments, just to vary what you might be seeing along the way. The rest of the game's appearance is fairly simplistic but it works for the most part. The top down camera view means that the game's surrounding is not the biggest attention grabber because you don't see much beyond the track itself.
If you get bored of the career mode then you also have the opportunity to race against other gamers, whether that is through local co-op and online multiplayer. You can pick the vehicle class, the track and the racing event, so the multiplayer racing can be exactly what you want it to be. Both the online connection and split-screen multiplayer work well, especially when AI fill in the rest of the spots to make the racing more fun in a much bigger group. There are also weekly events as an extra incentive to keep you coming back. These can include overtaking cars as quickly as possible or driving as far as you can in a limited amount of time. The only struggle right now is finding people online that are ready to race.
Now this looks familiar....
The achievements for the game offer variety and come at a steady pace during your racing time. There are 48 on offer here and they challenge you to take part in a variety of the different events and modes. Winning 15 online events and beating a racer online who is a certain number of levels above you may cause some issues, but there's the opportunity for these to be boosted for those who are struggling. Completing the various seasons in the career, owning all of the cars and upgrading different cars should come naturally during your play time. Some of the others will challenge you to get nifty with your tricks and achieve awesome status by completing them to the best possible level. The 1000G should be more than achievable for even the average racer due to the upgradable cars and tracks that are easy to navigate.
SummaryMantis Burn Racing
is trying to be nothing more than a fun, top down arcade racer and it easily succeeds in this. If you simply take the game at face value, you'll definitely have some fun. It's easy to jump into the game with no hard controls or techniques to master. With XP steadily rolling in from winning races, completing objectives and performing tricks, you'll be levelling up and earning money and upgrades in no time. Unfortunately, the game is let down by the repetitive tracks, less than impressive environments and some handling issues that stop it from being a must-buy racer. On the other hand, fans of the genre or those looking for a new arcade racer into which to sink a few hours will definitely enjoy what is on offer here.
- Fun and easy to control racer
- Nice variety of racing modes
- Constant XP gain and steady levelling
- Tracks can get repetitive
- Handling can feel heavy, especially when reversing
The reviewer spent approximately 6 hours racing through tracks and collecting gears, unlocking 30 of the game's 48 achievements along the way. An Xbox One download code for the game was provided for the purpose of this review.