VooFoo Studios released their top down action packed racing game Mantis Burn Racing as an Early Access game which means there’s some room for tinkering and improvement. However, as it stands the core game offers some neat pick up and play racing action where the onus is on drifting around corners and making no mistakes to get ahead of the pack. It’s an arcade racer through and through and what is perhaps most notable is the top down view and how this affects the way you drive.
To begin you’re able to partake in local play (which includes split-screen options for those who have local friends) where you choose a class, vehicle type and event and then race until you cross the finish line. The main meat of the game aside from the online multiplayer is the career mode which seems the most fleshed out at this early stage. You start in the rookie ranks and work your way through various race events until you reach the pro circuit which offers more of the same but speedier vehicles and more challenging AI opponents.
Interestingly each race offers a tactical element in that if you drift corners well, or get some big air you’ll be awarded race XP which builds up your boost meter. Once filled you’ll be awarded a momentary boost of speed which comes in handy if the track ahead is relatively straight. Obviously you can decided when to use it but the key is building it up multiple times for maximum effect. The AI also boosts and takes corners pretty well too so it’s imperative that drift racing is mastered.
There are a number of events to engage in before moving up to the next round and within each race you’ll earn cogs for performing set requirements within the race. You’ll need X number of cogs to progress the career which means going back and improving one’s score is an option. You’ll also be able to level up vehicles with earnings and install upgrades to vehicles (as well as purchase new ones). There’s quite a bit to tinker with here despite the game’s seemingly basic looking approach.
As for the racing itself. It varies depending on the vehicle used. Some are slow starting with higher top speed whilst others are more nimble with high acceleration. There’s a neat balance between the vehicles making races fun to play. That said, the game can be quite punishing and if you drive like a loon and hit the sides too often this will slow down any momentum gained. It’s quite easy to swing your vehicle around 90 degree corners making for some neat driving moments.
In terms of visuals the game runs smoothly and features a number of options to tailor the experience to suit. However, it’s not the most demanding game which means even lesser systems should be able to boost the visuals up to 4K quite comfortably – and that includes the upcoming PS4 Pro where this game will feature also. The top down view is good with a variety of camera options but due to the nature of the game players are likely to look ahead of the vehicle rather than solely focus on it directly which feels a bit weird. There some neat track deformation and the track-side detail is also pretty good especially when looking down at the buildings in the city based circuits.
Audio is a mixed bag at this stage with some very sparse sound effects when the music is muted. It seems the game is designed to have the music pumping in every race but it does begin to grate after a while. A few more engine sound effects would work well here making the vehicles feel more “alive”.
Gamers will be able to sink quite a bit of time into the career mode across each race and of course gaining top marks and all the cogs will be quite the challenge for some. There’s enough here for racing fans to be entertained although for those who get bored easily might find short play sessions more favourable. Players can also compete with other via way of leaderboards for weekly challenges which offer extra competitive moments to dive into. This week for example has you overtake as many AI vehicles on one circuit in 10 minutes (our record was 14). Which brings us to a complaint. Some of the events are a little sparse where it feels like you alone on the track playing catch up. The game would fare better if the vehicle spacing was better placed to reflect always being pressured. It’s a minor complaint and perhaps is only relevant when in the overtaking events.
Mantis Burn Racing is an interesting proposition for Xbox One, PS4 and PC gamers looking to drive their way to victory in top-down racing action. Whilst there’s enough to do in the career mode, it is quite a simple arcade experience despite boasting role playing levelling up elements. The racing is fun and fairly easy to master but it’s not a game that will hold your interest over longer play sessions. It’s best enjoyed in short bursts when the racing mood suits. Hopefully VooFoo Studios can add more content over time (especially some more environments) to give the game a bit more “oomph” that it seems to lack at present even if the visuals are quite pleasant.