Micro Machines V3 was the last Micro Machines game from Codemasters, but it wasn’t the last title to feature the tiny toys – Atari had a stab at resurrecting the overhead racer with a multiformat offering back in 2002. The V4 at the end of the title of this long-time-coming continuation suggests that Codemasters are treating Atari’s effort like the fart in a tornado that it was. Which is what you’d expect, really, seeing as it wasn’t by them.
The good news is that Codemasters picked the most experienced team for the job – Supersonic Software of Mashed fame. Further good news is that it looks neat and tidy, sporting decent water effects – a kitchen sink, in this case – and nice shiny surfaces. The clean cut presentation is alluring too, and there are hundreds of vehicles to collect including some rare sets. We’re also fond of the ability to push items – including egg shells and cubes of snooker cue chalk – around the track to cause havoc.
The bad news is that the one player mode gets tedious well before its time. It’s split into three modes: Battle Cup, Race Cup and Checkpoint Cup, with Battle Cup the being the best of a poor bunch. Checkpoint Cup, as you would expect, involves reaching checkpoints before the timer runs out. The frustrating thing is that it’s so unforgiving – if you fall off the track, even in the last stretch, then you have to restart anew.
Race Cup is spoiled by enemies that not only seem faster than you but have better traction, and the weapons are unbalanced in the extreme. Every vehicle has three life bars and most weapons – with a clear shot – can sap one of these, but by the time you’ve found another weapon one of you will have fallen off the track and had their health restored, or left the other for dust. Indeed, it’s very rare to actually destroy an enemy outright. There are no boats, helicopters or other additional modes of transport either – just cars, cars and more cars. Even the very first Micro Machines game on the NES had boat races, for pity’s sake. And get this – some of the tracks in the PlayStation 2 version have to be unlocked by linking to the PSP. Balls to that.
And so onto the multiplayer. It’s by far the most entertaining aspect, although that’s not saying much. There’s a fair variety of tracks, ranging from a beach with a vicious crab to a jaunt around a hen coop, and you can also play four player using two joypads by sharing a pad just like you could on the GameGear version back in the day. But what we ask is this: why no Xbox or Xbox 360 release, Codemasters? It would have made sense to release it on at least one console with four joypad ports as standard.
Single player is too harsh; Mashed has a better multiplayer mode.