Overhead racing games are an under-represented genre in today's gaming market. So, does Mantis Burn Racing live up to classics such as Super Off Road? Put the pedal to the metal and let's see how this beast handles.
I've been a huge fan of top-down racers ever since I played Championship Sprint in the arcades when I was a kid. In recent years, games like Toybox Turbos and BlazeRush impressed me a great deal as modern takes on the genre. Here we have Mantis Burn Racing which is yet another contemporary overhead racing game. Thankfully, it controls excellently. An interesting implementation is that there are few bells and whistles as all you do is accelerate, brake, steer, and boost whenever you have enough accumulated power. It's simple stuff but it works. The tight controls and undeniably challenging gameplay make it quite a legitimate test for your skills as a racer. Whether you work through the lengthy single player career mode or compete against others either locally or online, you're bound to have a good time as you hone your skills to that of a racing legend.
When it comes to graphics and sound, Mantis Burn Racing unfortunately falls short. The visuals are decent at parts such as desert cliffs or city overpasses yet it all ends up feeling the same. This is due to the fact that there's extremely little variation in its environments. When I play a racing game, one of the aspects that I look forward to most is racing through a wide variety of locations but everything here takes place in the desert. Even the city areas are located in the desert. It gets boring to look at quick. The music is generic and forgettable, too, but the main problem with the audio is the lack of effects. For example, you can barely hear the vehicles' engines which makes driving them far less gratifying. Overall, Mantis Burn Racing's presentation is mostly underwhelming.
As you progress through the single player campaign (which is surprisingly long), you'll acquire upgrades that are implemented in a clever way. Basically, you equip them onto your vehicle of choice then once it's full of upgrades, you spend money to level it up thus granting it more upgrade slots in the process. It's very satisfying watching your garage of vehicles grow and become more capable.
Races can be played within a variety of modes that do decent jobs of mixing up the gameplay. Besides races of varying lengths, you can also select modes where you gain points for being in the lead, lose if you're in last place on a lap, have to overtake cars to win, and beat tracks as quickly as possible. On top of these modes, you have eight tracks to choose from and can even alter the weather, time of day, and direction. It's definitely a significant amount of content although the gameplay may not stay fresh long enough to enjoy it all.
Considering Mantis Burn Racing is such a simple racer, it starts to feel rather tedious once you begin to master its gameplay. The lack of environmental variety definitely contributes to this feeling and it adds up to quite a monotonous experience after playing for an hour or so. Another issue that doesn't help is the fact that some camera angles are just awful. For example, it's very difficult to see around corners while playing with a static camera (which I usually prefer) or during split-screen matches as they're not zoomed out enough.
Mantis Burn Racing is a solid overhead racer that unfortunately lacks visual variety and substantial lasting appeal. That being said, if you want to test your skills in a massive single player campaign then you should give it a go.
- + Tight controls and challenging gameplay that thoroughly tests your racing skills
- + Satisfying upgrade system
- + Decent selection of modes
- - Simplistic gameplay starts to become monotonous after playing for a while
- - Poor audio and repetitive environments
- - Some camera angles are counterintuitive