Micro Machines World Series (PlayStation 4) Review

By Gareth F 11.07.2017

Review for Micro Machines World Series on PlayStation 4

Back in the good old pre-Internet days, the mere thought of playing a videogame competitively against a large number of opponents scattered across the globe sounded like the kind of far-fetched concept that would cost half a year's salary to partake in. However, this is an age when casual competition can be conjured up seemingly out of thin air without having to leave the house and, not only that, negate any need to be wearing trousers while doing so. While this current level of connectivity is mostly taken for granted by the kids of today, digitally dominating gaming rivals during the pre-World Wide Web era was something that could only take place in very close proximity. During this dark unconnected period, couch bound multiplayer reigned supreme and the man with the multi-tap adaptor (remember those?) was king. Games such as Super Bomberman, Worms and the original Micro Machines ruled the roost, wormed their way into the nation's collective hearts and have continued to endure in some form or other in the years since. Micro Machines World Series marks the long overdue debut of Codemasters toy box racer on the current generation of consoles. It's been a while...

Nostalgia is a powerful drug that can occasionally be abused, often leading to disappointment and for the most part should probably left back in the past where it belongs. It's fair to say that lot of people look back at Micro Machines fondly and have even possibly wondered why it hasn't played a more prominent role of late given that it last appeared on a console way back in 2006. Codemasters, already knowing full well that it has been sitting on a series built firmly on the foundations of those childhood memories playing with die cast toy cars, has no doubt sensed that the time is right for a Micro-naissance and has finally gone and slapped down the Ace in the nostalgia deck. Long regarded as the vehicular equivalent of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, it provides the means to wrecklessly drive twelve different sets of wheels around a few familiar locales, such as the garden, a breakfast table, a science lab, and a games room. Sliding around an icy pond, getting caught up on everyday objects, such as spoons or toy soldiers, skidding around a Cheerio-marked corner on spilt milk, or getting eaten by a Hungry Hippo whilst tootling across the marble munching play area of the game with the same name - all hazards facing those that choose to Micro Machine.

Screenshot for Micro Machines World Series on PlayStation 4

First impressions, then? Well, Brian Blessed bellowing a very loud welcome in his latest role as the race announcer is certainly a great, if unexpected, start to proceedings; however, the first thing that is immediately noticeable upon hitting the menu screen is the lack of any kind of single-player option. Sure, Micro Machines was always very much a multiplayer-centric title and that is definitely catered for, both locally up to four players with Skirmish, and online with Quick Play, Ranked, and Special Event. While not always active, the Special Event does offer a different slant on proceedings by mixing up the gameplay in some fashion with a mutator, and it seems to switch out regularly. However, the lack of a championship or campaign to play through solo is bound to turn off some potential customers that don't relish the thought of competing against Internet randoms; definitely a big gamble on Codemasters' part, then.

Micro Machines World Series is comprised of three different game types, as follows:

Elimination is usually played with four participants and is the game variation that series veterans will likely be most familiar with given that it served as the main mode in the original. All the racers share the same screen space and drive with the aim of losing the competition off the edge of the play area, while simultaneously attempting to remain as close to the track as possible. Given the restricted view ahead, this is actually much harder than it sounds and forces a reliance on memorising the layout while anticipating any shortcuts or obstacles to avoid coming a cropper. Toss a few power up crates into the mix that include an oversized comedy mallet, a Nerf gun and err... some kind of explosive bag that can tossed into the path of the poor unfortunates trailing behind, and players have themselves a party! The scoring rewards the last man standing with a point, while all the other racers get one deducted, which will regularly create a tug o' war-like power struggle when all the competitors are evenly matched.

Screenshot for Micro Machines World Series on PlayStation 4

Battle is an online-only addition that heads into far more adversarial waters as all twelve players (yes, twelve) get divided into two teams, and then pitted against each other in a variety of objective-based showdowns. All the classics are present and correct; Capture the Flag, King of the Hill, Team Deathmatch, and Bomb Delivery, each taking place in a number of specially designed arena geared towards conflict with numerous choke points, traps, and moving parts to contend with. Unlike the other modes, each of the twelve playable vehicles possess an individual loadout of weaponry or utilities available straight off the bat that, with the exception of the primary weapon, are subjected to cooldown timers. Continued play also charges up a vehicle contextual special weapon that is perfect to deploy when hightailing it across a narrow ruler carrying the enemy flag with an enemy convoy close behind. It's a mode that could only really work online and, to be honest, can be pretty overwhelming at the best of times, although there is a trimmed down Free for All mode that can be played locally with four drivers on the one screen. Not quite as hectic, or fun, for that matter.

Race is exactly what it sounds like and is an event run over five laps with power-up crates enabled catering for twelve participants. Again, due to the lack of any kind of split-screen options, it's another mode that can only be played online, though, thankfully, the match-making is swift and relatively lag free with any empty spaces filled automatically by AI drivers. To encourage player commitment, there is the now obligatory levelling-up system that incentivises progression with a shiny loot box each time a milestone is hit. In fact, as loot distribution systems go, it does seem to have been very blatantly lifted out of Overwatch wholesale, even down to the inclusion of voice lines for each vehicle that can be equipped and spammed to annoy the competition. Of course, these crates of booty also include fresh paint jobs for the fleet, a virtual gravestone to scar the landscape with upon death, as well as a selection of titles to add to the player profile.

Screenshot for Micro Machines World Series on PlayStation 4

While World Series does a decent enough job of replicating the fast, chaotic gameplay of the original Micro Machines, it's hard to shake the feeling that this is a bit late across the finishing line. Numerous toy-centric/top-down racers have been and gone over the years, many of which have faced the inevitable comparison to Codemasters' absentee shrunken classic, and while this has served to reinforce the fact that there was still some residual Micro Machine love out there, it was slowly getting whittled down by an ever-growing list of alternatives. Leave anything for too long and its moment passes. The lack of any kind of single-player component probably doesn't help here, and there's absolutely no reason why one couldn't have been included in addition to the online mode rather than at the expense of it. Solo racers can set up any of the game types against AI-controlled bots but this disables levelling-up and is a bit dull, to be honest.

Performance-wise, it wouldn't be too unreasonable to expect a 60fps screen refresh as it isn't the most graphically intensive game out there - far from it - but even on the PS4 Pro it doesn't really perform as consistently well as it should, and it's prone to suffering from the occasional judder here and there. Vehicles can feel sluggish at times, possibly as a result of the tank-like rotational control system that, despite offering alternate configurations, still takes some getting used to and doesn't really offer the manoeuvrability required to quickly counter an attack from the rear in the Battle mode. While the presence of AI-controlled drivers to plug all the gaps is definitely a good thing, they are brutally efficient, prone to ganging up on strays, and rarely miss their targets, which can make capturing some of the objectives nigh on impossible. It can be a pretty frustrating experience all told, and it does have the capacity to make it all feel a bit hollow and soulless sometime. All-in-all, it's not a bad game (what there is of it) but it's far from essential even for the more ardent fans of couch-based competition. It also contains way more Brian Blessed than anybody could have anticipated, so stocking up on ear plugs might be a prudent move for some.

Screenshot for Micro Machines World Series on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

Micro Machines World Series certainly has the capacity to entertain in short bursts, and particularly shines when played locally with a few mates, but its occasional performance issues, low budget sheen, and general lack of content ensures that it will be served more as a warm-up dish during a sociable gaming session, rather than the main course.

Developer

Just Add Water

Publisher

Codemasters

Genre

Driving

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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