Archives by Day

April 2021

Micro Machines World Series

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Racing
Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: Codemasters
Release Date: June 30, 2017 (US), June 23, 2017 (EU)


As an Amazon Associate, we earn commission from qualifying purchases.

PS4 Review - 'Micro Machines: World Series'

by Cody Medellin on Aug. 3, 2017 @ 2:00 a.m. PDT

Micro Machines World Series retains the manic social gameplay of the series, updated with HD visuals showcased in the return of classic locations such as the garden, kitchen, workshop and many more that fans will race through with a vast array of miniature vehicles.

Buy Micro Machines: World Series

In the NES era, Codemasters released Micro Machines. A top-down racing game based on the toy of the same name, the game was a hit due to the simple yet challenging nature of the races. There was also some novelty in racing in some non-traditional venues, like the kitchen table. The last entry hit the PS2 over a decade ago. It skipped the previous generation of platforms, but the series is back with Micro Machines: World Series. It has quite a few changes, some of which can be disappointing for longtime fans who are excited to see the series return.

The first thing that players will notice is that the single-player options are rather limited. There's no campaign or championship series to go through, so some would argue that solo play simply doesn't exist. Instead, the game provides you with three offline modes that support both local multiplayer and play with AI bots. Even then, the base Race mode only comes in a single-player variant, so you really only have two local multiplayer modes to work with.

Race mode has everything you'd expect if you were already a longtime fan of the series. The mostly top-down viewpoint is home to vehicles of varying weights and types, including futuristic cars, police cruisers and even tanks from "G.I. Joe." The handling is squirrely but can be mastered with a little practice, and you'll be performing powerslides before you know it. Weapons play a part in the races, with some mainstays like the hammer for close-up bashing and bombs to take out other racers behind you. There are also a few new ones, like a Nerf gun that fires darts to slow down the opponent instead of outright immobilizing him or her. Shortcuts are essential to winning, and the AI racers put up a good fight even if you dominate them most of the time.

Elimination marks the first real multiplayer mode, and it can be both cutthroat and complicated. Unlike Race mode, the camera is positioned closer to the track, so it can be easier to lose the round. Once a winner of the round is determined, a graph shows different racers either move toward or away from the finish line, depending on their initial placement and when they were eliminated from the round. In theory, this means that someone who loses constantly in earlier rounds can quickly pull ahead with a few wins. While this happens quite often when playing with others, AI opponents are too good to let that happen, so you're bound to lose every Elimination match against them.

Skirmish mode is where the game begins to stray from its roots, as it goes from racing title to Free for All, which is arena-style vehicular combat using the same viewpoint. Instead of picking up weapons, every vehicle has a set of firearms, three of which work on a cooldown system while the fourth acts as a special weapon that only powers up when you successfully attack other drivers. The arenas are large enough, so it can take time for four players to find each another for a fight, but it feels rather chaotic when you have 12 players around. The mode is rather fun and will get some rotation locally if Elimination isn't cutting it.

The rest of the game's focus is on online play, and this is where things get tricky. If you're looking for human players to go up against, you're completely out of luck. Aside from the rare person popping up here and there, the online community for this game is close to nonexistent, completely crippling any timed special events since those games can never start up. The good news is that any slots left open after about 90 seconds of searching are filled with AI bots, so you can have an online race without much trouble.

The presence of bots in online races saves the game from being a complete wash, but that's a double-edged sword since it pretty much negates most of the value from the offline modes. The online modes are the only ones where you earn XP for your races, and XP is used to level up, which earns you loot boxes to unlock the customization pieces for all 12 of the vehicles. With the online modes mimicking the offline ones and given how limited the offline modes are in the first place, you'll be obligated to go online all the time if you want to make sure your racing efforts aren't wasted.

While both Race and Elimination are the same online as they are offline, the Skirmish mode is a very different thing altogether. Gone is the arena combat Free for All variant, and it's replaced by things like Bomb Delivery, Capture the Flag and King of the Hill. The absence of Free for All cuts deep when you realize that the AI players are so much better than you at every mode. It doesn't help that the maps are huge and the 6v6 team play devolves into a confused mess when more than a few cars are on-screen. The AI is so good that your contributions to the battle can feel meaningless, and unless you get lucky, you'll be better off hanging back and letting the AI determine your fate.

The presentation is pleasant most of the time. The soundtrack is bouncy enough that it elicits a fun racing vibe, while the voices aren't that bad but some of the lines sound bland. Graphically, the game is very colorful, and there are good details in the environments, like tools in the workshop or spilled beans and condiments on the kitchen table. The particle effects also look fine, but the overall appearance doesn't push the system hard enough to warrant a capped frame rate of 30 fps.

In the end, Micro Machines: World Series is disappointing. The offline modes lack variety, so those who aren't interested in online play must contend with a shell of a game. Those interested in playing online will feel like they're playing offline anyway since the community just isn't there. While the racing is enjoyable, the increased emphasis on skirmishes hurts the game when you realize that your contributions have little to no impact on the overall match. You can still squeeze some fun out of this, but most people would be better off leaving this title alone.

Score: 6.0/10

More articles about Micro Machines World Series
blog comments powered by Disqus