Size ain't everything...
Many of you will remember Micromachines from their heyday in the late 80's. Supposedly the logical successor to Hot Wheels, they never really took off in America. They just weren't as cool as Matchbox. I vaguely recall some Micromachines commercials, however, that featured this bald guy who talked REALLY fast -"Micromachinesarethesmallestcarswiththebiggestattitudessogobuysomenowgogogogogo...:" Mmmm...subliminal selling at it's finest.
Of course, miniature car racing is easily transferable into the video game market. UK based developer Codemasters have grasped onto this very undeveloped terrain by creating a very beautiful game in Micro Machines V3. While there are some annoying quirks to the gameplay, this is still a worthy title and a fun racing game.
Micro Machines V3 is a top down racer reminiscent of older arcade games such as Spy Hunter and Off-Road (or the console stinker Rush Hour. Yuck.). You race as a miniature vehicle on one of 48 tracks. These courses encompass a wide range of everyday locations, such as the breakfast table, the pond, a crowded restaurant, and even the table of a chemistry class.
The developers definitely let their imagination flow when designing the distinct tracks, and this is where the game's graphical prowess is felt. With gorgeous backgrounds and a high FPS count, the action is fast and engaging. The pond water comes to life with ripple effects, while the breakfast table holds interesting little dynamic obstacles. That spot of maple syrup becomes a sticky trap, that Bunsen burner becomes a shortcut, and that milk carton becomes, well, a much larger milk carton.
There are a ton of ways to play MMV3. Single player games include Head to Head, which pits you against one CPU car; Challenge, which includes 4 CPU cars; and Time Trials, where time is key. There are also several modes to play with friends, including a wily 8 player party game where you actually have to share controllers. This is another area where MMV3 shines - the 8 player support is superb.
The gameplay has some original ideas, though not all are good. During a race, there are 8 light bulbs at the side of the screen. If anyone gets a substantial lead (ie. off the screen), their color lights up one of the bulbs. The person with the most colors at the end of 3 laps wins, though you can win at any point in the race by lighting up all 8 bulbs. This makes for some frantic chasing and strategy, particularly with machines that have built-in weapons, like the tank. Power-ups litter the courses as well, ranging from missiles to giant hammers.
However, there is a surprising lack of any sort of split-screen mode. This is irritating - the only way to race against friends is with the method described above. The addition of a split-scren mode would have greatly added to the diversity of the gameplay.
Like the real-world collectibles, the vehicles in MMV# can be won and lost. You can win Prize Cars by beating certain play modes, save these to your Memory Card, and race them against your friends. Again, this game works best at parties....
The control is pretty simple, but some of the cars go too fast. It gets incredibly difficult just trying to keep your car on the track. Furthermore, the use of shortcuts is limited, but it's hard to tell how. Sometimes it's perfectly fine to cut through a bend in the track, while other times you are penalized by straying too far from the path. More definition of what is considered the 'legal' driving area would have been nice.
In all, MMV3 offers a nice diversion with a unique take on racing games. The problem areas aren't huge, and the extensive multi-player options will please many gamers. A solid game... reallyImeanitoramIjusttryingtoendthisreviewguessyou'llneverknowohgolookatthecheatsalreadybecausethisreviewisover.