Credited for a wealth of popular titles including Project Gotham Racing, and Wipeout, the staff at Playrise Digital aren’t quite ready to step away from a genre many of them have helped to pioneer over the paste two decades. In fact, they don’t seem ready to step away from Tabletop Top Racing either. Having launched back in 2013, the original game was well received on smartphones before doing a victory lap on PlayStation Vita the following year.
Naturally, Table Top Racing: World Tour builds on that initial success. Although it sports the same core premise – miniature vehicles nipping round larger than life tracks – Playrise has managed to refine the formula to create a more substantive package all round. What’s more, the added power of the PlayStation 4 has allowed the studio to imbue its selection of cars and circuits with greater detail.
Across five locations and twenty tracks, players go head to head with AI-controlled drivers in a series of events. With more than ninety events in total, they’re split between the game’s six cups and come in several different flavours. Although combat racing is TTR’s bread and butter game mode, there are pursuit, drifting, elimination and time trial events too.
Throughout the singleplayer World Tour, you’ll earn stars based on performance, whether that means earning a specified number of points or being placed on the podium. Even if you don’t manage to succeed, the game coughs up a hearty chunk of coins and racing XP, the former being used to unlock new cars as well as upgrade them. Together they form a nice hook, encouraging players to revisit previous events as they boost stats such as acceleration, armour, and top speed, which will ease their path to victory.
There’s also a handful of “weapon wheels” you can attach to yield bonuses. Where the gladiatorial wheel spikes have an obvious application, others allow for projectile shielding, coin multipliers, and even the ability to jump small distances.
When mixed with TTR’s spread of weapon pick-ups, they make for a fun kart racer, if not all that groundbreaking. Homing rockets, nitrous boosts and mines will feel natural to those familiar with the sub-genre, each of them having a second-tier option in later cup events. One power-up that stood out among the rest, however, was the freeze ray. Although fairly simple in concept, there’s a perverse sense of joy to be had in turning your opponents to blocks of ice. Manage to hit them at just the right moment and you can send a handful of cars careening over the edge to their doom.
In having a variety of different event types, Playrise is able to delay the encroaching sense of repetition that slowly seeps in. However, one or two cups into the World Tour, you’ll notice the same circuits crop up over and over again. Each one is derived from a core template used in TTR’s five themed locations, from a YO! Sushi restaurant to the sunny picnic table of a fancy yacht. Entire chunks of track are recycled and bolted onto one another, and while it works, you might expect a little more from a digital game with a premium price tag – having said that, this game will be free to many of you via PlayStation Plus this month.
Still, the quality of the racing is hard to argue with. Even if a bit basic compared to more popular kart racers, it has a great feel that changes depending on which of the three vehicle classes you select. Although the first pair of cups can feel a little sluggish, super cars afford a much greater sense of speed and control, despite the game never becoming a real challenge. Outside of a handful of events, you’re likely to breeze past the competition without pushing the limits.
Of course, online races allow for a level playing field that can host up to eight gamers. Instead of matchmaking, TTR uses a lobby system which is both fast and functional, though occasionally let down by tardy hosts. Either way, multiplayer is by far the most rewarding way of play, giving racers a cluster of server options to easily mess around with.
What we’re left with is a competent arcade racer that plays just as well as it looks. However, wrapped around this refined core is a layer of overly familiar tracks that do little to sell players on TTR’s core premise. Weaving in and out of humongous aerosol cans, dinner rolls, and sushi platters is a fun novelty but fails to add a dynamic worthy of praise outside its obvious aesthetic application. Although very enjoyable in small doses, Table Top Racing: World Tour doesn’t carry quite enough substance to make it past the finish line with flying colours.
Version Tested: PS4