Micro Machines World Series seems to be joining new wave of nostalgic video games entering the scene at the moment. With the release of games like Tekken 7, Crash Bandicoot, and the announcement and hype around the Mini SNES, it comes as no surprise that many were excited for the new Micro Machines game. However it’s incredibly disappointing.
With this game Codemasters hoped would bring classic Micro Machines gameplay to the 21st Century, however Micro Machines World Series is almost an insult to the long line of games from the early nineties, as Codemasters has tried to mush together aspects of modern multiplayer gameplay into a game which doesn’t lend itself to such features.
So let’s get down to it. Micro Machines World Series isn’t really a Micro Machines game when it all boils down. Micro Machines World Series is an attempt at cashing in on the popularity surrounding hero games like Overwatch with features such as loot boxes, hero-like vehicles with their own unique personalities and skill sets, and game modes which lend itself to a more esports-loving audience.
When we received the code for the game, I couldn’t wait to play. The first thing I did was tell my wife, Hayley, that we’d received the new Micro Machines game and that I was going to kick her ass. However, upon loading up the game and jumping straight into the local multiplayer mode we were instantly disappointed. For some bizarre reason, Codemasters had made the local multiplayer Race mode, single player only. In fact, there’s not a single trace of split-screen multiplayer in Micro Machines World Series.
The only local multiplayer game modes available are Elimination or Battle Mode which are just terrible in this environment. With elimination mode, the camera focuses on the lead vehicle, so if you get left behind, boom, you’re eliminated. This could literally mean that as soon as the light turns green and you all begin to make a move, if a CPU car is in front and you take the first turn a little wide, you’re eliminated. Removing CPU players doesn’t help either because as soon as one of you takes a wrong turn or falls off the environment, it’s game over.
Battle on the other hand just doesn’t know what it’s doing with itself. Seeing as there’s no split screen whenever players move apart the camera zooms out, whenever they’re closer together it zooms in. This constant movement of the camera is not only disorientating, it’s nauseating too.
Straight the way I was sorely disappointed with Micro Machines World Series and I hadn’t even played the main game modes yet. But don’t worry, it doesn’t get any better from here.
Jumping into the solo portion of the game you’re presented with a handful of game modes, Race, Elimination, Battle Mode, and Team Play. Race, as you’d expect is your straight forward race mode with pick-ups to help you get ahead of the pack. Elimination is exactly how I explained above, and it’s still no better with a group of strangers, Battle Mode is an arena mode where you use your vehicles arsenal to destroy your opponents, and Team Play involves two games, King of the Hill and Capture the Flag.
While there’s plenty to keep you occupied in World Series, the game has one massive flaw: players, or lack thereof. Of the 100 or so games I played during my time with Micro Machines World Series, not once did I find a game that had a full list of other players. Instead, Codemasters makes up for this lack of players by throwing in AI. This AI doesn’t seem to have any difficulty level other than hard, and around 70% of the games I played had AI on the podium.
Because of this sheer lack of players, games are underpopulated, and those that are present have ping through the roof often meaning vehicles are rubber-banding all over the place often pushing you off the track or getting you trapped behind set pieces. Other times, you’ll feel like you’re ahead of the pack only for the game to catch up with itself and you’re thrust backwards into fifth place.
Micro Machines World Series clearly has a keen focus on Social Gaming, however unlike games like Overwatch, there’s no way to stay in a group once a game is over. Instead you exit the game once it’s done and are forced to search for another. There’s no automatic matchmaking here, and the stop and start process can quickly become tedious.
In addition, while each vehicle seems to have its own personality with voice lines, skins, and other cosmetic upgrades, there’s really nothing drawing you into each vehicle other than its three-weapon-arsenal each vehicle has. Even then, there’s really no differentiating between each vehicle without forcing yourself to try each one, and even then it’s difficult to decide what vehicle is suitable for each game mode, sure, bigger vehicles like the Monster Truck, Tank, and Dump Truck are clearly the tank heroes, but there’s nothing to explicitly tell me this.
It seems to me that Codemasters hoped to bring a new style of game with Micro Machines World Series which blended a classic game with more modern multiplayer features, however it’s all executed so poorly that there’s really no joy to be had. If the game had some more solid local multiplayer features, then we’d be talking, but to include zero split-screen gameplay is a colossal mistake in my eyes.
I wanted to love and enjoy this game, and given Codemaster’s track record with past racers, specifically their DiRT series, I’d hoped that they’d do fans of the classic series a solid. Unfortunately not.