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Review

Micro Machines World Series Review

Nerfed.

Among the many classic game series viewed through rose tinted glasses, Micro Machines has been one of the most regularly requested series to be revived. It’s taken a long time – just over a decade, in fact – but Codemasters have answered your prayers. Has it been worth the wait though?

One thing that was made quite abundantly clear as my PS4 threw a strop and refused to connect to the internet for a few minutes, was that Micro Machines World Series has taken online multiplayer and recent trends in this area to heart. Three of the four play options – Special Event, Quick Play, Ranked – are online and online only, and I faced having them blanked out.

Giving the console a mean glare, it decided that it did actually want to connect and I was away and free to dive into the Quick Play menu, with Battle, Race and Elimination modes to select. The latter two will be the most familiar, with race having twelve cars rounding a circuit five times, and Elimination being Micro Machines’ distinctive mode where players that fall off the track or go past the trailing edge of the screen are eliminated.

The handling is as loose and floaty as it’s ever been, with all of the Micro Machines more than happy to fishtail through a corner. It can be frustrating at times to be bumped off your line or misjudge things and crash into the scenery or simply fly off the table, but then there’s the moments where everything clicks and you have the satisfaction of cutting past someone else on the corners.

You’ll be racing across ten new tracks that make you feel like you’re in Honey, I Shrunk The Kids. There’s a race through a frozen garden, with a nice split level section and patches of treacherous ice; there’s the classic messy breakfast table, the pool table, and so on. It all looks great in action, with plenty of depth of field to help emphasise the scale of everything on show.

Battle mode, meanwhile, features bespoke levels to let you play game modes like Capture the Flag and Control Point. Two teams of five race around these roughly symmetrical maps, making the most of the expanded Hasbro licensing in the game. Nerf guns pop up here and there, GI Joe’s tank is one of the vehicles, and even Hungry Hippos and a Ouija Boards get to be Battle map centrepieces.

The twelve vehicles get their own identity here, thanks to different speeds and handling, as well as unique sets of weapons and special abilities. The GI Joe Mobat fires tank shells, and can lay chaff mines, rapid fire and once the ultimate is charged, unleash an air strike, while the Hank N. Stein monster truck has a shotgun primary weapon, grappling hook and “earthquake” slam attack, with the ability to unleash a tornado as its ultimate.

It feels like a page has been lifted from Overwatch’s design manual in this regard, and that carries through to the loot box system, with boxes earned for levelling up and earning you cosmetic items like liveries, voice lines and death sprays.

They’ve striven to make each vehicle feel in Battle, but this doesn’t really carry over to the main races. All of the vehicles are brought much closer together in speed and handling, and you’re limited to a nerf gun that slows vehicles it hits, a hammer that slaps things directly in front of you, and a bomb that’s thrown behind. They’re quite laughably ineffective 90% of the time, and the bomb is just as likely to propel someone chasing you forward as it is to wipe them out. It’s a million miles away from the likes of Mario Kart in this respect.

Sadly, where it was once the main reason to pick up a Micro Machines game, local play in Skirmish feels like the less favoured child in this game, and World Series doesn’t even attempt to do a career. A race in Skirmish can only be played solo as there’s no split screen in Micro Machines games, and even then it’s restricted to just four racers while the online multiplayer can fill out an entire grid of 12 with AI as needed. Elimination is there for local four player multiplayer, with all players sharing the screen, and there’s a cut down battle mode called Free For All, pulling players into a small arena.

Simply put, it pales in comparison to the already fairly minimalistic online play, and almost makes me question whether or not I’m remembering the classic Micro Machines games right. Elimination is predicated on your ability to read the road ahead or having learnt the tracks by heart, especially as the leader gets closer to the edge and has less time to react. Before you have that intimate familiarity with every spoon and Cheerio on the messy breakfast table though, the AI feels a little too good in this mode, and can put a dampener on two people playing. That said, there’s some nice touches like a particularly long and close race eventually having the camera zoom ever closer and closer, or how local play lets eliminated players lock on with a homing missile.

Local play does manage to be a blessed haven from the prevalence of lag online, though. Other racers judder and bounce around, weapons are inconsistent, as already mentioned, and worst of all, your own frame rate can drop, reducing the consistency and feel that you need to be confident as you take corners, jumps and race. Some races are better than others, but we hope this can be swiftly dealt with.

There’s other little quirks and oddities that annoyed me, such as how repetitive the little lines of dialogue are from your chosen car, the way you have to always back out to the main menu after a race or battle, and so on.

What’s Good:

  • Classic Micro Machines gameplay
  • 12 player races online
  • Battle mode and vehicle variety
  • Looks great

What’s Bad:

  • Battle mode weapons don’t come back to races
  • AI too hard in Elimination
  • Local play is scaled down compared to online
  • Lag online

Mixing the old with the new, it’s clear that Codemasters have tried to bring Micro Machines up to date in World Series. While there’s plenty of charm to the classic racing and elimination mode, I feel they could have gone even further with the ideas in Battle mode and the variety of vehicles and weapons that it contains, bringing these back to the classic modes.

Score: 6/10

Version tested: PlayStation 4

15 Comments
  1. tactical20
    Member
    Since: May 2010

    Disappointing. Looks like I made the right decision going for Crash instead.

    Comment posted on 30/06/2017 at 09:11.
  2. Tony Cawley
    Pint! Pint!
    Since: Feb 2009

    Shame really, a game best left in the past it seems. I’m totally ambivalent about all these retro re-releases, this, Crash Bandicoot, the Nintendo consoles etc. I just think the past is best left in the past for fear of ruining fond memories, yet part of me wants to go back and experience those things again.

    Comment posted on 30/06/2017 at 10:36.
  3. bunimomike
    Member
    Since: Jul 2009

    Tried it last night. No online play where you can JUST play with your mates. Utter rubbish until that’s patched in.

    Comment posted on 30/06/2017 at 11:50.
    • Youles
      Member
      Since: Feb 2011

      That’s ridiculous, especially as there’s the ability to fill the remaining slots with AI.

      Boo!

      Comment posted on 30/06/2017 at 12:02.
    • Stefan L
      Community Team
      Since: May 2009

      You can group up with others, though not 100% sure how many you can get together for that. Hopefully there’s custom lobbies, but I’d rather have less online lag.

      Comment posted on 30/06/2017 at 12:07.
      • Crazy_Del
        Member
        Since: Jul 2009

        WHAT?!!?!?!? Why did I buy this game! *cries*

        Comment posted on 30/06/2017 at 13:52.
      • bunimomike
        Member
        Since: Jul 2009

        I grouped with two friends and then the lobby fills with randoms. Effing useless. I have learnt a valuable lesson.

        Comment posted on 30/06/2017 at 14:28.
  4. Lyts1985
    Member
    Since: Jan 2009

    No split screen? In Micro Machines? Aw man, between that and the other criticisms in the review I think I’m going to have to leave this in the past as a very fond memory :-(

    Can’t help but feel disappointed but not so much as I would if I’d bought it first!

    Comment posted on 30/06/2017 at 13:51.
    • bunimomike
      Member
      Since: Jul 2009

      Was there split screen? I thought it was one screen (local) and if you went off it you were out, obviously.

      Comment posted on 30/06/2017 at 14:29.
      • Lyts1985
        Member
        Since: Jan 2009

        Yeah, that’s (kinda) what I meant, I just forgot how it worked lol… Tefs review mentioned it’s only solo local play though, which sucks :-(

        Comment posted on 30/06/2017 at 14:39.
      • Stefan L
        Community Team
        Since: May 2009

        Sorry, will take a look to try and clear that up.

        A “Race” where you are the centre of the screen at all times is only possible solo play or online. Local multiplayer has to be Elimination where you share the screen as Mike said, and then there’s the “Free For All” battle mode, with a small arena and you can use abilities, but with none of the scope of the fuller online Battle Mode.

        Basically, yes it’s there, but it’s not taking a step forward. It’s like a noose around the game’s neck that it can’t possibly hope to match the online offerings.

        Comment posted on 30/06/2017 at 15:54.
  5. ron_mcphatty
    Member
    Since: Sep 2008

    Well this explains the price point. Such a shame, without getting a fairly simple game spot on I don’t think I could be persuaded to buy.

    Comment posted on 30/06/2017 at 17:57.
  6. aerobes
    Member
    Since: Aug 2009

    A fond Sega Mega drive memory it will remain. At least it’s not contributing to my backlog. Silver lining.

    Comment posted on 01/07/2017 at 02:15.
  7. Starman
    Member
    Since: Jul 2011

    I’m enjoying the gameplay but the lack of career mode or anything like time trials is seriously disappointing. Going back to the title menu after every race instead of keeping the players together and loading up another race is a baffling decision. Even more baffling is after reaching rank 10, which you need to be to play ranked matches, you can’t because the ranked season doesn’t start for 92 days! Yes, ninety two days! Might trade it in and rebuy it in 3 months!

    Comment posted on 01/07/2017 at 20:13.
  8. coruscant
    Member
    Since: Oct 2010

    I’ll stick with Motorstorm RC, I think!

    Comment posted on 04/07/2017 at 20:31.

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