Team Racing League (PC) Review

By Renan Fontes 15.08.2017

Review for Team Racing League on PC

The downfall of any online-only multiplayer title is the community. If there is no community, there is no game. While online multiplayer has become a mainstay in the industry, a developer creating something exclusively multiplayer is as ambitious as ever. A mix of good marketing and luck are what differentiate a successful online experience from one dead on arrival. With little marketing to its name, Team Racing League finds its way on Steam, ready to be the next big thing. Whether or not it has the quality or player base to back that desire up is a different story altogether.

The average racing game relies heavily on visual cues. In something like Mario Kart or Gran Turismo, "drive forward" is the "obvious" way to race, but there's more to a course than just moving forward and following the road. When to turn, where to turn, how to make use of a shortcut: all factors that need to be visually registered and processed. A good course makes sure that the road's turns are easy to see and that shortcuts are clear. Driving forward is the obvious way to race, because of good level design.

Team Racing League is a bit different from Mario Kart and Gran Turismo in that all the racing is done overhead. There's no clear "forward." Because of this, visual cues are all the more necessary in conveying where to go and where to turn.

Unfortunately, all six available courses suffer from conveying such information. The worst offender being Desert 3, which places the finish line at the center of the course, meaning that drivers have to race across two cliffs and then drive on the road behind the finish line to clear the lap.

Screenshot for Team Racing League on PC

Verticality itself is an issue. Courses feature elevation that layer the tracks into a theoretical top and bottom half. Since the graphical style doesn't allow for much depth perception, cliffs feel muddied in with the ground. Tracks end up coming off quite ugly and fundamentally broken.

There are small fences that can be driven through to unlock shortcuts, but since courses are small in size, many of these shortcuts feel out of the way. That said, they do naturally fit into Team Racing League's identity as a battle-themed racing game.

The very act of driving is weaponized here. It's possible to bump drivers off the road as in other racing games, but TRL's vehicles emit flames that can be charged up to burn other drivers. Charging and breaking together also produce a fast boost that can aggressively spin out racers, or simply make progress.

Screenshot for Team Racing League on PC

Every vehicle features a magnet that can be switched on to grab boxes that can be used as obstacles, or merge with a teammate in order to create a flame-fuelled blockade. Suddenly, shortcuts no longer feel pointless as they act as an inconvenient workaround to clever, cruel teamwork.

This doesn't change the lack of map quality, or quantity, for that matter, but it does at least offer a hypothetical situation where fun can be had; hypothetical being the keyword, as none of this occurred for the sake of this review because none of this could have occurred with less than six people online.

The unfortunate reality is that Team Racing League's community isn't just dead, it's non-existent. Dead might imply there were a handful of regulars around who ensured that full matches could still happen, but that would be misleading. It's a good thing the developers accounted for 1v1 racing, because that's almost certainly all that's going to be occurring. Matches with strangers just aren't viable.

Screenshot for Team Racing League on PC

There needs to be workaround present for scenarios like this where a video game essentially goes extinct. Adding in CPUs or AIs to take the place of real life players at least means someone will always be able to hop online and get the full experience even if they're racing against computers.

If developers are insistent on multiplayer remaining a human-only experience, then either local multiplayer needs to be available, or there has to be some form of single-player content. A tutorial and a poorly thought out time trial mode aren't substitutes for actual content.

Team Racing League could have been so much better. It's unfortunate that it doesn't have an online presence, but, even then, tracks are still poorly designed and there's barely anything to do. It's Early Access, yes, but Early Access doesn't excuse giving an unfinished game a price tag. There's a fun game under the rubble, but only time will tell if it'll be found.

Screenshot for Team Racing League on PC

Cubed3 Rating

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

As ambitious as Team Racing League is, it seems highly unlikely it'll find the audience it so desperately needs any time soon. The concept of a 3v3 team-based race where the party is split between completing laps and actively attacking other racers is an incredible one with potential for legitimate strategy or pure chaos. Unfortunately, a lack of community mixed with awkward map design makes for a tremendously underwhelming experience. Even a single-player challenge mode could have gone a long way to at least make purchasing Team Racing League worthwhile. As the title is still in Early Access, there's still room for improvement. Until then, though, this is one race not worth finishing.

Developer

Gamious

Publisher

Gamious

Genre

Driving

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

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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