Micro Machines V4
Little cars= some big headaches.
The Micro Machines franchise has been up and down over the years, but there's no denying that Codemasters has done a great job with putting together racing games for video game formats. The NES game still stands up as a piece of legend, even if it doesn't have an official Seal of Approval from Nintendo. The N64 and PlayStation racing opus Micro Machines V3 is still tons of fun. And although it's not as smooth as it used to be, Micro Machines V4 for the PS2 is a solid effort. So...where does that leave the PSP build?
Well, the game's format is just right for gaming on-the-go. You choose from a number of little speedsters (many of which can be unlocked as you complete each race) and then take to a number of tracks that have locales spread out all over the place, like rooftops, kitchens, pool tables, and more. It's this kind of unique design that really makes the game's design stick out, and makes race tracks look more imaginative than most. It's a bit disorienting with the camera, however. It zooms in and out depending on your length from your opposition vehicles, and sometimes it gets to the point that you can't quite see the turns that lie ahead. This is a big problem, especially with the drift control system installed into the program.
See, the cars handle alright, but on a tight turn at high speeds, they drift like crazy. As a result, you'll sometimes find yourself falling right off the track, or going into a distant second when all you want to do is keep up. It's decent controls, but, really, this should have been addressed, especially when it's coupled with the game's unpredictable AI racers. They manage to speed ahead and get the roads just right, while also maintaining the best weapons and blasting you apart with them. It's like you rarely get a chance to adapt and keep up, and that'll cut down the game's audience a bit unfairly.
The game does feature some great multiplayer, however. You can hook up with a few friends via wireless link-up for competitive racing, and this really bumps up the fun factor of the game. It's the way that you interact with others and speed along that makes it more fun than racing against some hotshot. There's also a neat little track editor that lets you build your own little creations and then share them with others, and the amount of other modes add up as well. It's just too bad that the challenge level builds up to the point that you want to fling your PSP across the room- a $250 frisbee.
If you have a love for Micro Machines or multiple players who want to race around with a little nostalgia, Micro Machines V4 is a pretty worthwhile purchase. However, if it's just you making the rounds, you'll want to rent this first and see if it's worth some considerable frustration to make it part of your daily regimen. Who knew that such little cars could cause such big anger issues?
What's Hot: Great multiplayer; excellent track design.
What's Not: Ridiculously unbalanced AI; frustrating single player modes.