Every console needs a good kart racer, and Vector Unit aim to scratch that itch on the Xbox One with the release of their second self-published title, Beach Buggy Racing
which was previously a free to play smartphone game found on iOS and Android.
The re-tuned console release makes the transition to the big screen well, providing hours of fast-paced and action-packed fun, along with its fair share of road-rage that will leave you screaming at your TV.
Beach Buggy Racing
Despite Beach Buggy Racing
previously releasing as a free to play mobile title, Vector Unit have changed things under the hood for the console release. Aside from the obvious graphical upgrades and the addition of six player split-screen racing, they’ve also reworked the currency system to allow for the removal of micro-transactions in favour of a single upfront cost. The gameplay however has largely stayed the same as it was, and the game does retain an instantly mobile game feel, with large buttons that were obviously made of touch input and the familiar Angry Birds
-esque three star reward system.
At first the handling seems clunky as if the transition from tilt controls to the controller hasn’t been a smooth one, but as you unlock new upgrades for each of the available beach buggies you’ll begin to find that maneuvering around the game’s twelve available tracks becomes easier, and the controls feel more responsive.
Maneuvering around the game's twelve tracks is easier with upgrades
The game is at its best once you reach the 1,000cc top tier vehicles which are lightning fast and provide a comfortable driving experience. Unfortunately due to the game's structure of starting at the bottom and needing to purchase upgrades to unlock higher tiers, you’ll have to invest around ten hours or more before you have the chance to experience the best racing action.
It doesn’t feel like a grind to get to that point as the game's addictive nature makes you want to keep playing for another few minutes before putting the controller down. Leaderboards show your friends' times at the end of each race, and the visual star rating serves as a constant reminder that you need to try harder to earn the maximum three stars by finishing in first place.
Another major plus with the game is the ability to pick up and play when you only have a short amount of time available for gaming. Aside from a few early races, each race only requires two laps of the relatively small tracks, with each one lasting only a couple of minutes from loading screen to the finish line.
Each race only lasts a few minutes which makes it easier to play when your time is limited
The largest game mode available comes in the form of a career that sees you work your way through nine different cups. They start with the slower 100cc beach buggies and climb through the four available tiers to the higher powered 1,000cc variations. After each race you are rewarded with in-game coins that can be used to increase your vehicles top speed, acceleration, handling and strength, as well as stars for finishing in the top three positions which you will need to unlock new races.
In total there are hundreds of podium places up for grabs and hours of gameplay to be had from that one game mode alone. The difficulty increase between each cup is well balanced throughout, and even through some races and events may prove difficult at first, they never feel impossible. Usually a few new upgrades and a little more practice on the chosen track will prove all that is needed. You can also try out new vehicles, different drivers with unique special abilities to try to give you the competitive edge.
Different vehicles, drivers with unique special abilities and the ability to upgrade vehicles make even the hardest races achievable
The game’s cartoony style is nicely presented and each of the available tracks is imaginatively created with short cuts to discover, Easter eggs to collect, hazards to avoid and random events occurring such as snow balls falling from a nearby mountain. Some of the smaller touches that can be easily missed such as water and lighting effects are nice additions, and for the most part the game runs smoothly even under the demand of split-screen racing. The only noticeable moments of the frame rate dropping occurred when using the speed burst special ability that comes with one of the characters.
As with other kart racers, the game comes with a host of power-ups which help to make each race feel unique, and will keep you on the edge of your seat until you cross the finish line. In total there are 25 different power-ups which range from the standard nitro boost and oil slicks, through to the hugely annoying and rage inducing death bat that you will hear screeching behind you before it blows you off the road, usually when you are within reach of the finish line. Rubber-banding is also a frequent occurrence, which does make the game feel as though the difference between first and last place is often down to luck rather than skill.
Shortcuts provide a welcome boost if you can find them
Outside of the career there are five other game modes for you to try which largely consist of more of the same. Championships allow you to compete in different vehicles across all four car classes, daily challenges provide you with quick cash boosts, and quick play allows you to test out different combinations of drivers and cars across all of the available tracks.
Six player split-screen is also available and is perhaps where the most fun can be found as there is nothing like blowing up a person sitting in the same room as you and taking the lead on the final stretch. Unfortunately there is a lack of online multiplayer which would have provided an additional layer of fun that is sadly missing.
There are hundreds of podium places up for grabs
At the time of writing no one on TA has yet earned the full 1,000 GS available despite the in-game tracker showing time played of over 130 hours for one gamer. This is largely due to the final two achievements for earning one million coins
and for driving over 9,289km
in total. Both of these achievements will require lengthy amounts of play even after the career and championships have been mastered.
A handful of the achievements are luck based as you will need to hit a competitor with a specific power-up when they are have already been hit with another specific power-up by someone else.
SummaryBeach Buggy Racing
doesn’t do anything particularly ground breaking for the kart racing genre, but it does do everything it needs to. The addition of multiplayer would have been nice and taken away the feeling of grinding once you have won all of the available single-player races. With quite literally tens of hours of gameplay on offer in the career and championships alone, and even more if you want to earn all of the available achievements, the game’s price point makes this a highly recommended purchase for racing fans.
- Hours and hours of racing
- A large range of power-ups
- Up to six players in split-screeen
- No online multiplayer
- The last achievements will take some grinding
The reviewer spent approximately fifteen hours racing through all of the game's available modes and desperately trying to avoid the death bats, earning 24 of the game's 45 available achievements. An Xbox One download code for the game was provided by the developer for review.