Top-down arcade racing.
VooFoo Studios’ Mantis Burn Racing is a top-down arcade racing game that wants to follow in the footsteps, or tyre marks, of games such as Micro Machines and MotorStorm RC. So far, this generation of consoles has failed to spawn any really compelling top-down racers, but Mantis Burn Racing actually manages to buck that trend.
The actual racing in Mantis Burn Racing is very enjoyable. Very easy to jump into, the beginning car moves at quite a pace and slips into a very satisfying drift around tight corners. Controls are simple, with your standard accelerate, brake and steering, along with a boost that fills slowly as the player progresses. Handily, there are a couple of options when it comes to the top-down camera, allowing the player to choose that which they feel most comfortable with. As the player moves through the game and unlocks new cars, the handling does differ. But for the most part, the handling is slick and responsive, which is handy as there are some very tight segments in some of the courses.
When it comes to modes, it is the career mode that offers the most content. Here, the player will work their way along the path of their career, moving from one race to another. Occasionally there are forks in this career path where the player can choose between which race they want, but will end up doing both anyway in order to unlock certain car upgrades. The different types of races are quite varied along the career path, with everything from straight forward races and time attacks, to eliminator style races where the trailing car is eliminated after each lap.
Each race will offer a certain number of gears that the player can earn. Three gears are on offer for simply winning the race, whilst the other three gears come with certain challenges attached, such as destroying a certain amount of scenery, or getting good air or a great drift. These little challenges offer something extra to the basic racing, and give a great reason for players to come back after winning the event to collect any missing gears.
Players earn experience as they race, which levels them up and unlocks further upgrades. They also earn cash which can be spent on those upgrades and new cars. There are three different classes of car in the game – light, medium and heavy – each of which handle a little differently, as you would expect. Some races will force a certain type of vehicle, so when it comes to upgrading it is prudent to try and upgrade each of them at an equal rate so as not to be left with an under-powered vehicle. As the player progresses through the different seasons, from Rookie to Pro, the AI does get more challenging. But as long as the used car is upgraded, the game shouldn’t prove too much of a problem for most gamers.
So far, so good. However, there is one area where Mantis Burn Racing does disappoint. Through the course of the game, players will find themselves racing in only two different environments, both of which look really nice by the way. But in those two environments, there are only a limited number of original tracks, with many races taking place on the same tracks but in reverse. This means that players will have seen all the game has to offer relatively early on, which is a shame. More variety would certainly have improved the game.
Outside of the career, there are both online and local multiplayer modes available. There is not that much to choose from here, but players have control over the type of race and empty spots in the line up are filled by AI cars. Both the local and online work well without any lag or difficulties, and it is quite good fun racing against other real racers, albeit short lived. There are also weekly challenges offered by the developers, which give a nice reason to come back and play some more.
Mantis Burn Racing is a game that fills a hole in the current generation of videogames – an enjoyable top-down racer. It may not have the personality or overall fun of some of the games from previous generations, but it manages to be a good-looking, solid game with plenty of content. It is also the best game currently available to fill that top-down racer shaped hole in your game library.