Mantis Burn Racing: Battle Cars (PC) Review

By Gabriel Jones 02.10.2017

Review for Mantis Burn Racing: Battle Cars on PC

The latest DLC for Mantis Burn Racing cuts to the chase. Did somebody just get in front of you? Then gun them down with impunity. Is a rival on your tail? Drop a mine and laugh as they're reduced to smouldering wreckage. That's right, Battle Cars presents an interesting spin on this arcade racer. Now, everyone is armed to the teeth, and they've no intentions of playing fair. It'll take more than skilful driving to rule these dangerous roads.

Speaking strictly in terms of content, the Battle Cars expansion isn't bad at all. There are three new vehicles to choose from, all with their own weight classes. The career mode has seen an additional campaign, with events designed specifically for car combat enthusiasts. A handful of battle modes such as "Survival" and "King of the Track" are also included. As with the rest of the DLC, all of the new content is appropriately woven into the core game. Players can use leftover upgrade parts from previous races to tune their newly-acquired vehicles, and then compete in both online and offline modes.

Unfortunately, the problems with this expansion make themselves known early on. The new set of career events is very difficult. The AI opposition flawlessly handles every corner, leaving humans with little margin for error. Furthermore, their tremendous acceleration and top speed suggests that their vehicles have seen extensive tuning. In order to have any chance of winning, players must invest in upgrades for their newly acquired vehicles. This shouldn't be an issue, except most players have probably spent them all.

Screenshot for Mantis Burn Racing: Battle Cars on PC

In Mantis Burn Racing, vehicle upgrades are few and far between. Most are earned through career mode, or by levelling up. Better parts can be acquired by completing the toughest leagues. Once these upgrades are spent on a car, there's no getting them back. Anyone that has played this game for a while is certain to have a garage filled with kitted out vehicles. However, they won't have any means of making their newest acquisitions competitive. Depending on how far they've gotten in career mode, the driver might not even have an opportunity to earn decent parts. If that isn't the case, then they're still likely to spend more time in their old cars collecting upgrades than actually driving their new cars.

While this is a significant issue, it still pales in comparison to what lies at the heart of this expansion. Mantis Burn Racing really doesn't benefit from having combat-oriented modes. This is first and foremost an arcade racer. Everything from the track design to the handling of the cars is designed in a specific manner. The addition of machineguns and mines causes all sorts of variables to emerge, but there's no real depth to any of them. What essentially happens is that the winner of a race is more likely to be determined by random elements, rather than any measure of skill.

Screenshot for Mantis Burn Racing: Battle Cars on PC

At the start of a race, neither the machineguns nor the mines are available. Undoubtedly, this was done to prevent the starting grid from descending into chaos. Instead, the machineguns are unlocked a few seconds into the race. The mines are available after the first lap. The fault here is the disparity between the two. Though the machineguns can overheat, they don't really have a disadvantage. Players can and should fire them as often as possible. In a typical racing scenario, where car A is ahead car B, as long as the other car B can stay close, they hold all of the advantages.

Until the first lap has ended and the mines are accessible, there is nothing car A can do to counter car B. They could ease off the gas, allowing their assailant to pass, and then pay them back with bullets. However, this tactic is only viable if car A is in first place, and there are no other opponents in the immediate vicinity. Furthermore, if car B is wise to what's happening, they'll either slow down to resume the attack, or boost to lurch ahead. Strangely enough, the real winner of this scenario tends to be car C. This vehicle is the only one that doesn't get caught up in the mayhem, so they pull way out ahead. They'll coast to the finish line while everyone else destroys each other.

Screenshot for Mantis Burn Racing: Battle Cars on PC

In order to avoid the phenomenon that is car C, developers have resorted to a number of measures. For their Mario Kart series, Nintendo came up with the blue shell. Not everyone is a fan of this controversial weapon, but it serves its purpose. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed relies on a swarm of bees to assail whoever is in first. A less extreme and sometimes less effective measure, but it can still make a difference. By comparison, Battle Cars does absolutely nothing. Granted, a homing missile that only targets drivers in first place would be immensely frustrating to balance, but that's why most combat racing games are designed from the ground up.

While it's dangerous to dwell on hypotheticals, there's one last possibility to consider. Perhaps this expansion would be improved if mines were unlocked sometime before the first lap has been completed, possibly even the same time as the machineguns. Mines are still limited in that drivers are allowed three per lap, and they'll only use them in desperate situations. However, more mines in play could also be catastrophic. Portions of each track are so narrow that a properly set explosive would be impossible to avoid.

Screenshot for Mantis Burn Racing: Battle Cars on PC

Cubed3 Rating

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

Battle Cars can't be faulted for a lack of content. However, it begs the question: Who is this expansion for? Fans of combative racing games have numerous options available to them, and they're all better balanced and more cohesive. Everyone who enjoys playing Mantis Burn Racing will become annoyed with its tacked-on and unbalanced weapons. They might find amusement in blowing up their rivals, but they won't appreciate the struggle of farming parts just to have a chance at the new career campaign. In the end, all that's left is the novelty of making vehicles explode.

Developer

VooFoo

Publisher

VooFoo Studios

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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