Nostalgia is a loving and silent companion, which brings to mind wonderful moments dating back to the happiest years of our life, during which the worries were few and the joy of discovery a lot. At the same time, however, under its benevolent mask nostalgia also hides the heavy veil of ignorance: the more we abandon ourselves to its embrace, the more difficult it becomes to evaluate in a critical and crystalline way what is in front of us; she is an oppressive and violent partner, who punches reason in favor of the "good old days" and the ephemeral warmth offered by memories. And you know, there is nothing better than a blinders put on voluntarily to hide the defects, so there are countless companies that have recently decided to make use of this force, easily replaceable to the scarcity of ideas and the lack of courage. Look around you, it seems to be back in the 90s: people tear their hair for the Super Nintendo Mini, Crash returns to Playstation, and in Hollywood they decide to do the remake of Jumanji and to bring Baywatch to the cinema. These are not totally negative operations (in many cases they represent a great opportunity to make the new generations understand the wonders of the past), but given the underlying malice it is inevitable that every now and then we decide to exhume a corpse in a very bad state. This is where Codemasters takes over, a development team that needs no introduction and that wallowed in us in those years, today committed to reviving a brand that accompanied the childhood of countless players, Micro Machines. If you did not understand it from the opening words, unfortunately we are dealing with a dead body that has been preserved quite badly.
We don't want to be gorgeous, mind you. When Micro Machines World Series was announced, we too had a heart attack. The series has been a bulwark of couch gaming, herald of utterly exhilarating challenges to the death, and far more brutal and challenging to master than you might think. The problem is that when the game code arrived and we started the whole thing ... something inside us immediately cracked. World Series is in fact an extremely different title from the Original Micro Machines, capable of profoundly differing even from three-dimensional chapters such as Micro Machines V3 and V4: the basis of the game is actually significantly closer to another Codemasters title, Toybox Turbos, a sort of "Micro Machines without a license" which took the fundamentals of the series and distorted them to a large extent.
We explain better: Until V3 the series was mainly based on "types" of Micro Machines to drive, diversified from each other and sometimes even with dedicated tracks (such as motorboats, which challenged each other in tanks and small ponds); After V3 Codemasters has decided to change direction, focusing first on the possibility of mixing vehicles in competitions, and then with Toybox exclusively on mixed races with vehicles with their own characteristics. World Series does exactly that, but where Micromachines V3 offered an exhilarating challenge even in single player - complete with advanced tournaments and a large number of tracks - it decided to focus exclusively on the multiplayer experience. No single tournaments, just a "Skirmish" mode where you can compete with artificial intelligence in races that do not offer any prizes to those who face them and must therefore be used to memorize the circuits (or to challenge their friends locally, of course ). Moreover, it is not that difficult to remember every corner in this case, because there are only ten tracks.
These ten circuits are more than cared for, for heaven's sake: as usual we find ourselves in front of perfect tracks for toy cars, from desks covered with stationery products to tables full of food with a big dog in the background that fixes your challenge panting. There is still all the charm of the predecessors in the locations where the Micro Machines fight, all the rest is missing. There are twelve cars, not many more than the tracks, and not diversified too much in terms of controls, because an excessive reworking of the response between one vehicle and another would have excessively unbalanced the races (speed and acceleration of the vehicles are practically identical, the response when cornering changes); the general speed has decreased, to make the game less frustrating (it is not easy to control the vehicles on certain circuits, but try to pick up the V3 or the second chapter and you will notice a huge difference); a lot of emphasis, finally, has been placed on the battles, which are fun but distort the formula.
The available cars are after all equipped with specific abilities - complete with a loadable special move - as if they were heroes of a Dota-Like. The Shimu-Nita (yes, it's really called that) can release energy streaks that slow enemies and fires a steady laser, the GI Joe tank fires powerful and precise shots and can drop stun mines, and so on for a challenge to which is certainly not lacking in variety. The problem, however, is the balance: certain vehicles are clearly more suitable for battles than others, either for the effectiveness of their primary weapons, or for the usefulness of certain powers when compared with others. This makes an already chaotic mode a complete disaster at times, and it is a waste because the fights of this type (in addition to taking place in dedicated arenas) are also refreshed by the presence of alternatives to the typical Deathmatch such as the Capture the Flag or the Conquest mode, where a little tactic and balance would have greatly benefited the experience.
Micro Machines World Series boasts 44 trophies, but don't expect particularly elaborate challenges. Most will get them randomly during the battles, others will ask you to use all the cars in the game, while for the last you will only have to level up. In short, this is not a fast platinum, it will take some time (especially to reach level 40).
The desire to chase more famous multiplayer titles is perceived even in the unlocking of rewards, since by participating in online races you gain experience to level up, and at each level obtained you get a chest containing coins, emotes for cars, stamps put on the field to destroy the opponents and audio beats of the drivers (does it remind you of anything?). The fact is, this title doesn't have a solid enough foundation to support such a structure. The gameplay is simple and intuitive, not without subtleties but far from the layering of other arcade racing or the potential of competitive games of a completely different kind. The presence of special online events with modifiers is not enough to justify the price of the ticket, and the chaotic fun of online battles is not comparable to the competitiveness that the predecessors unleashed locally. Overall, World Series is a forgettable pastime. The Micro Machines brand deserved much more treatment, much more content.
Is it all to be thrown away then? Not really, because in the game there is still a mode that at least partially saves the shack: Elimination. We talk about races with a modified view (the normal one follows the cars from above but is angled, in Elimination instead it approaches that of the first chapters, vertically on the vehicles), where the camera only follows the driver in the lead and gradually approaches until all challengers are eliminated. It might seem trivial, but this is actually the best element of the game, because it contains the best of the competitive spirit of the brand to which it belongs and is nothing short of intoxicating in the company of friends. The fun resulting from the Elimination is the thing that in our opinion makes the World Series reach full sufficiency, an extra option that completes the inevitable modalities included in the package and overall is more successful than both the battles with fixed powers described above and the classic races. Nothing particularly special to add then on the graphic sector of the game, pleasant and colorful, as well as enriched by the Hasbro license (which allowed to insert goodies such as a Cobra armored vehicle and Nerf weapons within the title) but certainly not unforgettable or particularly inspired. A few unjustified drop in frame rates worried us, however they have only appeared very few times. We close with the solidity of the online, which we have unfortunately not been able to test very thoroughly (the servers were only open for a few hours before launch). What we can tell you is that the special events we talked about earlier will be activated at alternating times, and that matchmaking has struggled a bit during our experience, replacing human players with artificial intelligence after a few seconds most of the time. . Not bad, however, the bases put in place remain the same, and regardless of everything our evaluation does not change: the Micro Machines of the past are far away.
We expected more from a revival of Micro Machines. There have never been absolute masterpieces in the series, but titles capable of making us fall in love with those cars and throw the pad to the ground with fury during the challenges between friends, yes. This new incarnation of the series is certainly hilarious at times, but the simplifications made, the content narrow, the imbalances in the battles and the general emphasis on online take it away from the best chapters. Overall this is barely enough title, a real waste.
- Elimination mode is hilarious and reminiscent of its predecessors
- The game is still a lot of fun with friends on hand
- The abilities of cars in battle are quite unbalanced
- The slowed-down gameplay lacks the finesse of its predecessors
- Few tracks, few cars, few contents