There are many racers out there for iOS that all have their own unique mechanics. This however, is a pretty different one from the bunch. With a top-down view and arcade-style gameplay, this isn’t what you’d expect from a fully-fledged racer.
Mini Motor Racing is a fast-paced frenzy to the finish in small, chubby vehicles that scream cuteness. It has solid visuals, great gameplay and a heck of a load of fun in store. Is it good enough to oppose other similar games like Reckless Getaway? Let’s find out.
The app plays a neat little video sequence upon opening that attempts to showcase its superior graphical capabilities right off the bat. It doesn’t really flatter the app at all on the iPad’s high-resolution display, however.
You are then transported to the app’s main menu screen. Surprisingly, even from this you can tell that the game has something going for it graphically, as the text and backdrop looks superb. There are three race modes you can enter: Career, Multiplayer and Quick Race.
Ready, Set, Go!
The Quick Race mode allows you to jump straight into mini-racing action. Here, you simply select your car and your track then set off racing. You can see from the car selection screen that the sprites are pretty intricate for what they are and they still look great.
Let’s move on to the Career mode. A standard in racing games nowadays, the career mode allows you to embark on a journey to conquer all the races you can in search of a title or achievement. Tapping on the icon on the menu screen takes you to a car selection screen where you can pick the car you want to use in your journey until you decide to upgrade.
The cars are ranked in their handling, nitro, acceleration and top speed. Again, these parameters are pretty standard in racing, reflective that this is simply a great new take on the racing we know and love. The cars can be upgraded too, in all of these categories if you have enough Career Cash.
You earn this cash by completing events in one of two championships that collectively have 212 races for you to compete in. If you feel like it of course, you can always use the IAP system to get cash and turn your racer into a god right off the bat.
The game also features an online/local multiplayer which runs smoothly when tested, however expect to wait a while for a random opponent, as it wasn’t a short waiting time when I tried it.
The controls are a tricky part of any iOS racer, as touch-controls aren’t the easiest things to get right due to most people being used to buttons and control sticks to navigate their vehicles. On the iPad, there are four control mechanisms that you can choose from, named Toggle, Tank, Slider and Wheel.
The Wheel is the default setting whereby you have a virtual steering wheel on the left of the screen that steers and the nitro on the right, as acceleration is automatic (configurable in options mode). Having acceleration automatic is probably best, otherwise you’d have to keep switching your thumb from the acceleration to the nitro which would temporarily stop your car.
Trying to get a good set of controls on the iPad is a tricky challenge indeed. If you select the Tank control mode, the nitro is virtually impossible to touch due to it being positioned in the centre of the screen. I found that the mechanism that worked the best is the steering wheel, as it takes after the touch-drag style controls of other games such as The Amazing Spider-man and GTA III.
You can flip the controls if you need to in the options on the main menu so dominant controls reside on the right.
The actual racing is really smooth being a top-down display. You never really feel that control is lost due to the fact you know what’s in front and behind you. Drifting does feel satisfying at first, however if you drift a little too much, you slow down dramatically, which wasn’t something I particularly enjoyed.
The main thing that makes the game a little challenging is the tracks. Moving your car in and around complex environments adds a little bit of strategy to the game. The tracks are preheated quite a few times with different weather conditions and mirroring which may seem almost lazy, however it helps you to get used to their complexity and makes the races more enjoyable as you progress through the game.
A Few Problems
When you first start off the career mode, the A.I. really doesn’t have a clue what’s going on. In most cases, you’ll lap them once or twice before the finish line. Once you’ve completed the first few levels, there is a sudden shift in how they race and you’re forced to adjust by playing through a few easier races to upgrade your vehicle.
The A.I. seem to start pulling some ridiculous maneuvers when they get harder to beat. Some of the last positioning racers seem to be bent on smashing me into the walls of the environment whilst others speed ahead. I’m not are it that’s just a coincidence, but it’s something that bothered me a little.
The pace of the cars seems too slow. It’s not really that thrilling for the most part; all of your concentration will be on navigating around the obstacles of the tracks and not on the speed of the car. The nitro too almost seems a little pointless. It’s such an incredible shift in speed that is near impossible to control and will probably cause more harm than good.These problems are not that detrimental to the overall experience however; I still got a lot of fun out of the game.
It seems more effort’s been spent on polishing this app rather than constructing it in the first place. It looks outstanding no matter what screen you’re viewing it on; the video introduction doesn’t really do it justice. The clarity which everything is done with makes this a real hard contender to beat graphically.
Navigation didn’t pose any problems at all and everything interconnects smoothly. I just wish that gameplay was the main focus of the app, but it doesn’t seem that way. Perhaps the upgrades system could be a little more complex too.
Mini Motor Racing has its ups and downs, but overall, it delivers a good fun racing experience that looks outstanding. While there are a few issues that I’m sure will be corrected over time, there’s nothing stopping the game from being your main focus racer for a little at least.