*DISCLAIMER: ALL VIEWS IN THIS REVIEW ARE MY OWN AND DO NOT COME FROM THE COMPANY THAT HAS KINDLY PROVIDED THE GAME*
In Mantis Burn Racing: “The race is on, where fast-paced bumper-to-bumper racing combines with intuitive, tactile gameplay and stunning visuals in one of the best-looking and immersive top-down racers around.” – Steam Page
This is the first game published by VooFoo Studios. After a successful launch onto Steam Early Access on July 5th, this game received semi-decent reviews and some media coverage. However, the community surrounding this game was dwindling, so for some reason, I thought that this was the best time to play. When I received the game, it was just about to be released fully and so I was expecting a polished little racing game which had an old arcady feel to it. However, because of how late I was to the party, the online aspect of this title was completely dead. However I battled through it and actually enjoyed it; so here is my full encounter with the game. The game is currently, £12.99 on Steam and sits at a “Positive” rating with 21 reviews at the time of writing.
The gameplay is split into 3 classifications on the menu screen; Career, Online play and Local play. Though these are all relatively the same, I would like to talk about them all individually.
The career mode let’s you play in the different seasons available. There are currently 7 different seasons to choose from and it has taken me around 14 hours to complete them all. Each season requires either Rookie, Professional and Veteran class vehicles and there are currently 3 different vehicles per class.
- Light-weight: Really efficient acceleration and a generally speedy light vehicle which takes to the air easier, but gets knocked off course easier also.
- Medium-weight: An all-round vehicle which is good at pretty much anything. Not as fast as the light-weight, but stronger.
- Heavy-weight: Quite slow, but a tank. This vehicle can knock other vehicles off the track and take shortcuts unavailable to other vehicle types.
I personally prefer using a medium-weight vehicle as the light-weight is too light and is a bitch around corners. The heavy-weight is also too slow and doesn’t get enough opportunities to use it’s shortcut power and damage dealing. The way how the game stops you from just using one vehicle is that certain races in the seasons are locked to a specific vehicle (e.g. light-weight). This is a great addition as it requires the user to adapt to the different playing styles of the different vehicles.
Each race in the different seasons can also be one of the 8 different gamemodes inside the game. These gamemodes include:
- Sprint – 2 lapped race
- Regular – 3 lapped race
- Endurance – 5 lapped race
- Knockout – At the end of each lap, the player at the back will be knocked out of the race until there is only 1 player remaining.
- Accumulator – Players receive points depending on the place they are in. The first player to 10,000 points wins.
- Overtake – The first player to overtake the other players 5 times, wins.
- Hot lap – Player with the quickest lap by the end of the time wins.
- Time Trial – Regular mode where 1 player vs himself.
As you can see, there is an extensive amount of gamemodes included in the game. This mixed with the fact that each race in the seasons can be any one of these gamemodes with a locked type of vehicle, makes the career mode quite extensive and enjoyable.
When wanting to play online, you can bring your own customized vehicles into play. You can customize your vehicles by receiving upgrade parts from either leveling up, or by completing races in the career mode. These upgrades include:
- Tire Upgrade
- Suspension Upgrade
- Engine Upgrade
- Boost Upgrade
That is literally all of the upgrades you can get and it barely explains what each of them does to your car. Even though not telling you sounds frustrating, it becomes more frustrating when the upgrades are barely even felt. However, installing a lot of them does speed up your car a bit and this can give you that little advantage over players online. So that means online must be great!?
Wrong. This is when the game gets even more annoying. If anyone reading doesn’t know, I like to 100% a game before reviewing it. This means that I can create a very comprehensible review that informs the audience on every aspect that this game can offer. This meant that I had to play the Online mode so that I can achieve the comprehensible review that I want. However, there is absolutely NO player base for this game at all. So much so that I was in a PUBLIC lobby for 3 hours and didn’t get into a single game until giving up after said amount of time. For a primarily multiplayer experience, no multiplayer is kind of frustrating and can turn a lot of people off when they could have purchased the game for that exact reason.
However, after trying to communicate with people in the dead discussions page on Steam, I managed to play 10 matches over my 14 hours playtime. Not too good when players will be wanting to play online more than single player.
As online is pretty much dead completely, local play is when you can really see how this game was supposed to be played. I happen to be lucky enough to have mates who will help me with reviews by playing these various titles with me. Because of this, I managed to get a good sense at what the online was trying to achieve.
The tense gameplay whilst playing with other people is great. The different gamemodes, as mentioned before, create fantastic and unique gameplay. It is a real shame that this was never felt in my online experience as the most players I could get into one game was 1 guy…
There are a few gripes that I would like to mention at this point of the article. These include the fact that your microphone is automatically enabled whilst playing online. It never prompts this too you and the only reason I found out was because the one guy I was playing with, said that he could hear me; while I was on Skype!! Another problem is that the settings for users on PC are pretty poor. There are definitely not enough options available, which could be easily fixed with an update.
“Stunning Visuals” is how the steam page describes this game; I only semi-agree. Whilst a lot of aspects in the game look great, there are other parts which just aren’t up to par with the rest of it. This unbalance really doesn’t come across very well and should really be fixed.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of variation in the map type. This is because there are only 2 locations to choose from; desert and city areas. Each of these locations has a few maps, but the game makes you think there are more by simply reversing the layout of the map. As there is a lack of maps and there are a lot of races accumulating in all 7 seasons, you can become quite bored of the layout of the track you are racing. This problem is relatively easy to fix and I would therefore strongly recommend that they add more maps to keep player engagement at a constant high.
Other than this problem, the maps that they do have are gorgeous and are really pleasant to drive around. However, a lot of the time, you are too focused on the track to take in your surroundings.
This is the part of the game that really contrasts with the really nice looking maps that you drive around. The car models are fine, but it’s the colours that are the real problem. They are bland; not just bland, but sometimes ugly. They really do not give you enough customization with the cars and this results in really dull looking models.
The collision detection of cars is also awful. While playing, my car got stuck in terrain multiple times and whenever I crashed into a car, the cars would just ping off sometimes. I’ve also had debris fly off the screen in wonderfully bad fashion after crashing into a cone or a fence.
Though I have said a lot of bad points about the quality of the game, the actual gameplay does distract you enough so you don’t notice the problems all of the time. Another point that I would like to make is the fact that the game crashed on the menu screen multiple times.
The music and sound is what you would expect from a top-down racer. The music is technical and loud; the sound effects clean and short. However, there are several problems with both that could really be improved with future updates.
Music in this game is alright. The tracks are semi-high quality and the actual contents of said tracks are pleasant to listen to. However, there are a very limited amount of tracks that are actually in this version of the game. Because of this, the music starts to get very repetitive and quite annoying at times.
The sound effects are pretty generic for a title like this, but it’s the quality of them that makes it a negative point for me. They sound like they are temporary music files that a developer would place in their game as a holder, until they found the right effect. This might be the reason and if it is, I would recommend that they replace the car sounds with better quality tracks.
Mantis Burn Racing is an alright game. If you like grindy top-down racers, then you’ll probably enjoy this. It has taken me 14 hours to 100% all of the achievements; so for the price of £12.99, it can seem a bit steep as the multiplayer is non-existent (1 hour in a PUBLIC lobby and no matches). However, the different game modes kept me entertained enough to battle through the entire title. Unfortunately, there are only 2 locations and a few maps to choose from and they try and hide this by saying it’s a different map when in fact it’s just a reversed version of same map. The sound quality could also be better as the sounds are quite tin-like. For all of these reasons and more, I would have preferred to give this title a neutral rating, but because I can’t, and because I did find some enjoyment in the title, I will go for a positive rating.
What would I like to see in the future?
- More maps that are actually in different locations and have unique designs
- More unique gamemodes
- A text-chat in the online
- Dedicated tournament times to boost online player counts
- Improved sound quality
- More vibrant color choices for cars
- Visual changes to car upgrades
“We’re really proud to have released Mantis Burn Racing®, which is the first game we have developed and published ourselves. It’s been a fantastically busy and exciting time for our studio and a journey we’ve enjoyed immensely. We’ve been overwhelmed with the feedback we’ve received since the game raced onto PlayStation®4, Xbox One and Steam® and we’d like to say a huge thank you for all the comments received so far – but things don’t stop there! Right now, we’re busy working on the first major update for the game which will make a number of improvements to the online experience – we’ll be adding AI to online races and implementing a new Lobby system that should help players connect with other gamers when playing online. We’ll also be adding new content in the form of a completely new and different race location with multiple new tracks which we’ll be giving away as a free DLC pack. Keep an eye on our Twitter @VooFoo for all the Mantis Burn Racing® updates and thanks again for playing!” – VooFoo Studios 9/11/2016
|Gameplay||Driving is responsive and smooth. Different game modes are fun.||There are currently only 2 locations in the game and online is non-existent.|
|Quality||The quality of the maps are really well done and the UI is nicely designed.||Cars are quite bland and the map design becomes repetitive pretty quickly.|
|Music/Sound||Music tracks inside the game put up the tension when playing locally.||There are only a few music tracks and the sound effects could be better quality.|
Review by Sam Elliott