Thursday, December 21, 2017

Mantis Burn Racing (NSW, PS4, XB1, PC) Review

From a racing game on water from yesterday to a racing game planted firmly on the ground (with the occasional hang time from hills), SuperPhillip Central centers its focus on VooFoo Studios' Mantis Burn Racing. This game saw a release on PS4, Xbox One, and Steam already, and now it has arrived on the Nintendo Switch. That is the version of the game I'll be covering with this review. Let's mind the corners and navigate those twisty turns together at once!

I'm burning, I'm burning, I'm burning for you.


I started playing games in the NES era, and with those games came one I went crazy over. It was a top-down racer called Super Off Road, where drivers raced along undulated dirt tracks in single screen arenas. My, how have times changed. VooFoo's Mantis Burn Racing has been on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Steam storefronts a little bit now, and recently it was added to the Nintendo Switch eShop. With beautiful HD environments with tricky tracks and circuits to compete in, Mantis Burn Racing delivers a fast and insane top-down racing experience that shows how far the genre has come since my days as a kid playing Super Off Road.

Mantis Burn Racing is easy to learn with its minimal required button inputs. You have a trigger for acceleration, a trigger to brake, and a boost button that can be used when you've produced enough boost energy done by earning XP mid-race. XP is handed out liberally with 20 points here for a good drift around a turn and 20 point there for overtaking an opponent. It's best to learn how to take turns well and use boost energy adequately, or else you'll find opponents easily overtaking you.

You can even earn XP from getting big air like these racers are about to do.
As you progress through the main mode for solo players in Mantis Burn Racing, the career, you earn gears, XP, and currency to progress through the ranks along a map of sorts. All of the paths converge at the end where a lock rests. By fulfilling the gear requirement of that lock, it opens, allowing progress to the next series of challenges. XP is used to gain levels, filling up a linear line that occasionally unlocks new vehicles, modifications for your vehicles, and cold, hard currency, which you can use to purchase vehicles, upgrade old ones, and the like. Modifications comes in several forms, such as for tires, the engine, the suspension, and more to work on each vehicle's handling, acceleration, top speed, etc. 

The career mode features an abundance of event types, such as standard races, Elimination events where the racer in last gets eliminated one-by-one until there's no other racers left but first place, time trials, Overtake events that have you rushing to race past other cars to overtake five other vehicles before your opponents do. The variety with events on display here is nice, especially since the track variety suffers a bit.

There are 12 tracks total in Mantis Burn Racing, and while that number would be adequate in any other racer, in Mantis Burn Racing the tracks are spread out across only three environments. You never race in familiar territory structure and turn-wise in the different races, but you do speed through similar-looking environments like a dusty canyon, a corner-intensive city, and on a snowy and treacherous mountainside. The track designers did their best to add some variety to the tracks despite being in only three environment types such as New Shangra-la's tracks taking place in nighttime on a track with a green glow to it, a harbor course that is drenched in light from a setting sun, and a trip through a monument-filled scenic route of the city.

One New Shangra-la race goes from overpasses to sewer channels.
The DLC from the PS4, Xbox One, and Steam versions of Mantis Burn Racing come already pre-installed with the Nintendo Switch version, but to play those seasons within the career mode, you need to reach a certain point in the career. There are so many events throughout the career mode (and so many roadblocks like needed the right vehicle weight class that requires the player to spend currency they might have to grind for just for the necessary ride) that reaching the end or even less making substantial progress in the career turns out to highly tedious and repetitive. 

While another race occurs at night alongside some scenic sights. 
This is especially so if you're trying to gain all six gears per event through completing achievement-like challenges, such as winning the race, drifting for a set number of seconds, crashing through a certain amount of breakable objects, beating specific lap times, and more. Though you have to admire the huge volume of events available throughout the career mode and the carrot on the stick supplied for players to engage and engross themselves with unlocking content. You can't say the quantity is not there, even if the quality gets a bit repetitive along the way. Not a bad problem to have, however, if you're enjoying what's here.

And what's here in Mantis Burn Racing is quite good. The racing is superb, and customizing your vehicles is a must unless you want to bounce around the tracks like a hovercraft. You can alter the camera angle with the press of a button to support your preferred view. I went with a direct view over my vehicle, so all controls were traditionally handled (i.e. turning left on the analog stick turned my vehicle left instead of whichever way it was facing compared to an alternate camera angle). Sometimes, though, with such a camera angle, I found it hard to discern where turns were, as parts of the environment would obscure my view, leading to frustrating and time-consuming crashes straight into barriers, slowing my vehicle down immensely. 

I'm dreaming of a white and explosive Christmas with Mantis Burn Racing's Battle DLC.
Multiplayer offers plenty of content for players both online and locally. Cross play with PC players on the Nintendo Switch brings enough players to the fold where waiting around for races is seldom a lengthy process. All options are available to you when participating in multiplayer, such as the 12 tracks in both normal and reverse designs, all the modes including the Battle DLC, and more. As someone who doesn't really partake in online that much, everything seemed to run well enough and I enjoyed myself with the limited system-wide options available to me on the Nintendo Switch.

Mantis Burn Racing brings back good memories of my times playing Super Off-Road back in my youth, and it is of course a marked and sophisticated improvement over those memories in control, design, and everything else. The career mode could have used some shortening or a better variety of environments, but overall, Mantis Burn Racing captured the same spirit of mine as a game I really adored as a child, and made new memories that I will hopefully look back on in another 25 years.

[SPC Says: B]

Review copy provided by VooFoo Studios.

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