A few years back, we checked out Table Top Racing on the PS Vita. A port of a fairly successful iOS game, it wasn't that bad on the system, but it also wasn't the best game for those who wanted a Micro Machines-style toy racer or a standard kart racer. Two years later, the sequel Table Top Racing: World Tour came out on both the PC and PS4 to fairly mixed results. As is the case with many indie titles these days, it finally came out on the Xbox One after spending a significant stint elsewhere, but at least it comes with all of the DLC in tow.
If you've played the original game, you'll have a fair idea what to expect from the sequel. You're racing around levels with miniaturized cars, and the levels reflect that properly. For example, you may be on the table of an expensive yacht racing around food and wine bottles. You could be in a sushi restaurant driving over menus and fighting against the conveyor belt that delivers the sushi pods. You can even be in a garage trying to steer away from a pile of brakes. No matter where you are, you'll find a few shortcuts on your course and a few well-hidden coins.
The setting makes this title more of a kart racer. For many, this means that weapons and other power-ups become par for the course. You have standard things like rockets (both regular and homing varieties), shields, and EMP blasts to temporarily disable those around you. Other weapons appear normal, like the freezing ice block and the toxic spill, but the ability to combo their attacks against multiple racers make them more dangerous than their counterparts in other titles. Progress a little further, and the weapon powers double if you run over one of them while carrying the same weapon, so you have some strategy to work with.
World Tour mode is the main mode, and it's split up into three major categories: Cult Classics, Street Racers, and Supercars. Each category has four championship series, all of which contain a myriad of race types, including elimination, fastest laps and time trials. Placing in a race earns you XP that unlocks stuff elsewhere, and coins can purchase new vehicles and upgrades. Speaking of upgrades, you'll find the standard things here, like increasing your acceleration and handling, but you can also invest in tires that give you other perks, like doubling the coins earned in a race or jumping over obstacles and other racers.
At face value, the racing is fine. There's a good sense of speed even with the slowest cars, so the cheapest car with no upgrades still feels like it can do some damage if driven correctly. The shortcuts are placed well enough that a few are more obvious than others, so you'll want to look more closely at your environment. The rubber-banding of the other racers is still present, but it seems to have been tweaked to make it less annoying than before. The same goes for the weapon damage, which feels more effective against both yourself and others. It has enough going for it that some players would be encouraged to try one more event after a race concludes.
Much like the original title, though, the issues aren't with the core racing but the surrounding mechanics. The physics are set to odd levels. When you hit objects, you see cans of paint and spark plugs flying all over the place, but your car suddenly being shoved to the edge of a track is less humorous. The same goes for hitting other stationary objects, which can nudge you in unexpected directions if you don't hit them head-on. Along the same vein, the unlock system for getting new cars is fine, but the upgrade system seems very imbalanced. Car upgrades are rather cheap, while the tires and paint jobs, the latter of which provides no benefits at all, are quite pricey. As such, upgrades can feel rather trivial since you can easily buy the car and add in all of the upgrades with the large amounts of cash that you earn after a few races.
The second mode, Challenges, offers more variety should you grow wary of the main World Tour or want something to do once the main mode has been conquered. For the most part, the list of one-off events seems pretty normal, but there are a few variations available, like limiting races to one car type or only having one weapon type available. They're nice little bonus races and quite good for farming some coins if you're bored of repeating the same World Tour races.
Multiplayer is the final mode and is usually a strong point to any racing game, but here, it fails on multiple fronts. Offline racing is something that is almost expected from any title that goes for the kart racing arcade style, but it is completely absent here. Considering the title's expansion from its mobile roots to more grounded platforms, that omission is disappointing. The game features online play, but at the time of this writing, that crowd has completely dried up. It is unfortunate, but when you consider that the game has already been out on both the PS4 and PC without any longevity in their online communities, the lack of online players here isn't surprising.
Graphically, the game looks quite nice. The car models look good, with little details like the flapping trunk door being a nice touch when you reach high speeds. Environments also sport tons of details and some nice graphical tricks, like distorted reflections on some shiny surfaces. The particle effects from the weapons and speed boosts are decent, but more impressive is the fact that the game runs at a completely smooth frame rate no matter what's happening on-screen. For a series that originated on mobile, this is quite a looker.
In this front, the only thing that hurts the game's looks is the number of environments. You can race in eight stages, and those are stretched out to feature various racing routes to fill up the fairly deep content list. It's a fine technique to use and speaks to the developers' efficiency, since they were able to squeeze so much from so little. Still, the sense of déjà vu can't be shaken, so the feeling of repetition comes in at a faster-than-desired clip.
The sound is a pretty big change from the previous title, specifically in the area of music. The generic rock has been replaced with a vibrant, licensed, electronic soundscape from Juice Recordings. It fits in well with the racing and is a huge upgrade from what the series had before. Unfortunately, the soundtrack list is much like the environments in that the list of available songs is quite skimpy, so repetition creeps in very quickly.
In the end, Table Top Racing: World Tour is fine. The physics can be wonky at times, and the upgrade system is laughable given the large coin payout per race, but the racing itself is solid enough that a few people will be able to overlook those flaws. It's a solid single-player experience due to the game's overall length, but with inactive multiplayer community, it becomes a tough sell. It's cheap enough that people who don't normally play multiplayer in their racing games won't mind anyway, but for those looking for a more complete arcade-style racing experience on the Xbox One, World Tour falls squarely in the middle of the pack.
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