Racing around overhead tracks in virtual toy cars has been enjoyable since the early '90s. Now that Micro Machines is back after a long hiatus, does it keep the fun-filled spirit of the original games alive?
When I was a kid, I loved playing with Micro Machines; both the actual toys and on my NES. Therefore, this iteration of the series definitely brought back some memories. Also, seeing as Hasbro now owns Micro Machines, it was interesting to see how the weapons are Nerf products and there's a stage based on Hungry Hungry Hippos. This product integration is actually handled well considering you race on tabletops complete with themed objects scattered around. Whether you're in an office, a garage, a kitchen, or a toy room; observing the detailed and charming environments as you race makes every track enjoyable. On top of this, each vehicle type has a unique disembodied voice attached that offers plenty of personality to the equation. Overall, the visuals and voices definitely make Micro Machines World Series a promising racer.
Another component that sets World Series up for success is its collection of tracks, gameplay modes, and vehicles. There are plenty of each which makes it a varied experience at its core. The three main modes include basic races, battles, and elimination races (which are the same as the races except competitors are eliminated when they fall too far behind). Battles are carried out via arenas and are the bulk of the gameplay. These involve modes such as battle royal, capture the flag, defend your base, etc. I found this to be strange because Micro Machines has been primarily a racing series yet the developers of this clearly focused on battles more. Don't get me wrong, they can be enjoyable but they surely don't provide enough fun to satisfy either newcomers or long-time fans.
If you're planning on playing Micro Machines World Series solo then you're in for a disappointing experience. The only offline content consists of setting up your own customized matches then taking on local opponents, computer-controlled competitors, or a mixture of the two. Playing offline results in no progress whatsoever so if you want to unlock stuff then you have to play online. After playing online over a dozen times, I only encountered another gamer on a few occasions. In other words, I was just playing against computer-controlled opponents the majority of my time online. Even when you find another human, the other racers will still be computer players.
Speaking of computer players, the artificial intelligence can be absolutely brutal. I don't mind difficult games but when you're playing with a mix of computer and human competitors, it's annoying how the humans usually don't stand a chance against the AI. They always seem to shoot with perfect accuracy and race like they're Ricky Bobby in his prime. Ideally, the computer opponents should be placeholders so the actual players can compete without getting their butts kicked by some faceless AI. What makes this worse is that it's difficult to tell where you're aiming a lot of the time due to the fact that you're controlling a tiny car. This combined with a problematic camera that frequently obscures upcoming turns don't seem to faze the AI in the slightest which makes dealing with them all the more irritating.
Micro Machines World Series actually contains a great deal of enjoyable content but its lack of structure and dependence on a barren online community means that content mostly goes to waste. Add in frustrating AI and you're left with one disappointing game.
- + Cool environments and silly voices
- + Good variety of tracks, battle modes, and vehicles
- - Very limited non-online content
- - Extremely cheap artificial intelligence doesn't mix well with lack of online players
- - Visual issues make gameplay frustrating