Table Top Racing: World Tour Review

By Mark Delaney,
To what extent should a game be expected to innovate? In such a copycat industry, something new and fun that comes out of one game is probably less than a few months from appearing in a different game. Should each game, even when borrowing elements from others, add their own touch to a particular genre? If you believe they should, you may not take much away from Table Top Racing: World Tour. However, if you can accept a game that is in every way familiar but also well made and fun, Playrise's racer may be exactly what you want.

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Table Top Racing: World Tour (TTR) is, as the name suggests, an arcade racer that pits miniature race cars against each other to battle for supremacy in such settings as a backyard, a child's bedroom, and a garage. The game offers sixteen pint-sized vehicles, each with different starting stats that you can later upgrade and tune. These cars aren't licensed from manufacturers, but they do their best to provide fun "off-brand" takes on those carmakers — like the Fauxrari — as well as give at least a few nods to pop culture vehicles. These cars come in three classes: Cult Classics, Street Racers, and Supercars. After you're given just enough coins to invest in your first vehicle, a green buggy with a few decals, you're off to pursue a racing career atop the titular tables.

What you might not expect when you first begin is TTR's competitive spirit. The game is definitely on your side for at least a few races to start, letting you get your feet wet before bowling you over with waves of more difficult circuits and competitors later on. You'll need to adapt quickly to the game's difficulty curve if you want to make any significant progress. Even as an arcade racer with a family-friendly aesthetic, TTR demands that you time power-ups with precision, take the inside track around corners, and alter the tracks to create shortcuts for yourself. AI drivers can be very aggressive too. Racing laterally to others usually invites them to try to bump you off the road, and they're quite good at this.

The lack of any difficulty modes really hinders the game's merits as a result. Though it provides a worthy and fair challenge for perhaps most players, both its aesthetics and premise certainly appeal to kids too, but it'll quickly be too difficult for many of them to succeed.

On these table tops, I am the danger.On these table tops, I am the danger.

Success in TTR is defined as a third place finish or better. Anything worse won't unlock subsequent races in the game's several championships. These events are split among several different but familiar modes like combat races that use the game's various pick-up weapons, time trials, hot laps, and elimination, which cuts off the last place racer with each lap until one competitor remains. Third place will earn you the minimum passing grade and with that comes the smallest share of coins and XP. While the latter opens up new Special Events, one-offs with specific stipulations, the former is quite appropriately treated like gold in the world of TTR. The game's full offering of championships is lengthy, and though you'll initially earn scraps for coins to upgrade your vehicle one or two stats at a time, it offers a smart and clearly well-planned progression as you go on.

With tougher championship circuits come greater rewards. While an early race may net you just a few hundred coins for third place or better, later races will grant you upwards of 10,000. Even still you'll probably never be Scrooge McDuck-ing into your fortune because the cost of living goes up as better vehicles and upgrades are always inflating in price too. In this way, the game's career mode and economy work well together to influence an effective carrot-on-stick relationship for players, which in turn may make you say "just one more race" often.

Each vehicle offers unique stats which can be upgraded and tuned to your liking.Each vehicle offers unique stats which can be upgraded and tuned to your liking.

The game offers eight settings, each with four different tracks. This setup includes all previously released paid DLC, too, so sometimes it pays to wait for a game like TTR to arrive on Xbox. Each of the tracks hides shortcut opportunities, but taking advantage of them won't be available right away. You'll first need to unlock superweapons. These arrive after you win your first two championships. They allow you to stack two power-ups to create buffed versions. Like the settings, cars, mechanics, reward system, and progression, these power-ups aren't anything genre fans haven't seen before. Among them, you can grab speed boosts, drop bombs behind you, shoot free-fire and homing missiles, or blast enemies with a rush of ice that may satisfyingly send them off the track completely. They all feel effective, and even though certain situations may have you hoping for the right pick-up, there's always use for any of them. Even storing a missile as the race leader can be a nice security blanket if someone does try to pass you.

If the surprisingly challenging AI opponents aren't enough, you can also take your cars online in eight-player races. The host can select game modes, decide which power-ups and modded wheels are available, and select the track and number of laps. In my pre-release time with the game on Xbox One, I was never able to find a multiplayer lobby. However, having logged dozens of hours of TTR on PS4, I can at least say that it worked well with no persistent issues. It remains to be seen if the same can be said for Xbox, but nothing right now suggests otherwise.

Don't be fooled by its visual style, TTR can actually be quite a challenge.Don't be fooled by its visual style, TTR can actually be quite a challenge.

Inexplicably, TTR fails to mimic one key aspect of an arcade racer — it lacks local multiplayer modes. If you ever want to race someone who is as alive as you, you'll need to jump into the online lobbies. This is a glaring omission. Local play is a foregone conclusion for a game like TTR, so for it to be missing really stings.

On the achievement front, there are a few that will be pretty challenging, while plenty of others can't come early simply due to the game's unlock progression. If you want to collect all of the hidden supercoins on each level, it's crucial that you invest early in the Boing Wheels, which allow you to hop and reach otherwise inaccessible areas. These supercoins can be a huge boost to your early prospects as they allow the only sense of getting ahead of the unlocking and upgrading tree. Elsewhere, you'll need to buy and upgrade all of the cars in each of the three classes, and of course win all championships and Special Events. There are even a few for playing and winning online. There's no real shortcut for a lot of these, so don't expect one.

Summary

Table Top Racing: World Tour dares to be familiar, which could've been a deathwish. Instead, competitive gameplay, fun cars, adjustable tracks, and an enticing unlock system make the total package something greater than the sum of its common parts. Speeding around colorful tracks launching missiles, dodging oil slicks, and earning coins is something we've seen countless times in the past, but TTR gets most of it right so it still feels like a race worth winning.
4 / 5
Table Top Racing: World Tour
Positives
  • Surprisingly competitive
  • Lengthy and fair progression of unlocks and upgrades
  • Fun "off-brand" takes on licensed and pop culture cars
Negatives
  • No difficulty options
  • No local multiplayer modes
Ethics
The reviewer spent twelve hours racing around the little-big world of TTR, collecting 20 of 38 achievements for 315 gamerscore. A digital copy was provided by ID@Xbox for the purposes of this review.
Mark Delaney
Written by Mark Delaney
Mark is a Boston native now living in Portland, Oregon. He has written for GameSkinny, Gamesradar and the Official Xbox Magazine. He runs the family-oriented gaming site Game Together.