Mantis Burn Racing is the first game from VooFoo Studios not set in a Pub. After the fantastic Hustle Kings and Pure Pool the studio synonymous with snooker have decided to have a crack at another oft over looked genre, the top down-arcade racer. With a decent Micro Machines reboot nowhere in sight, Voofoo have stepped in to try and fill the void with Mantis Team Racing. But does it take the checkered flag, or drive straight into a ditch?
The answer is somewhere in between. If you’re wanting to relive your misspent youth blazing around the table tops and bath tubs of Micro Machines you’re going to be disappointed. But taken for what it is, Mantis Team Racing is a pretty solid top down racer.
A Nameless Mechanic (lets call him Rusty) introduces you to Mantis Burn Racing’s lengthy Career Mode. Bringing players up to speed on the various race types available, how upgrades work and the game’s structure. There’s no story, weapons or pick-ups to worry about here. It’s a pure, no frills racing game. Lap times and leader boards are the only thing that matters here.
Career mode is split into seven seasons; three rookie, three pro, and one veteran. These are comprised of several different types of events from straight-up races to Time Trials and overtake challenges and more besides. Coming in first, or completing secondary challenges, such as drifting for a certain amount of time, or completing the race without boosting earns you extra gears. A set amount of gears are needed to unlock the final event in each season. Trying to complete the challenges for extra gears is fun and a great test of your skills, and you need to nab as many of them as you can to get to the later levels.
You earn XP with every race you complete, unlocking better cars and stat-boosting upgrades as you level up. There are three types of vehicles – light and nippy, balanced and medium and heavy and grippy, with one in each classs one Rookie, one Pro, and one Veteran. light and nippy, medium and balanced, and heavy and lumbering, each type of vehicle works better in different events and on different track types. While the upgrades you unlock can be applied to any car you own, allowing you to tweak them to your own tastes. Also by fillings a car’s upgrade slot, makes it work better, thus making you level up faster, which in turn provides you with more slots. It’s a great little system that feeds into itself nicely while letting you tinker your rides to your hearts content.
Mantis Burn Racing’s light RPG systems compliment simple but fun gameplay, with the racing feeling feels fast and fluid, Meanwhile controls are straightforward and responsive, and it doesn’t take long before you’re able to effortlessly chuck your car round the twisty tracks. Drifting around hairpins and launching yourself off jumps, the physics are on point as well and give races a certain heft and physicality.
Though the first couple of seasons are very easy, once you hit the veteran season the challenge intensifies making for some incredibly close races.
However, Unfortunately, despites the tracks being well constructed. The game’s environmental design is incredibly dull. Rather than opting for the pool tables, kitchens and gardens of classic top down racer Micro Machines. Mantis Burn Racing opts gives players two environments to speed through; a rocky, dusty off-road area and a bog-standard cityscape. Though both have a good amount of detail, by the time you’re half way through the career, you’ll be bored of seeing the same couple of locations. Moreover the tiy like design of the vehicles makes for an odd disconnect, and seeing as Voofoo are the masters of creating lifelike indoor areas it seems a bit odd that they didn’t go full micromachines and have players racing round a bar or home.
The games presentation is functional, but nothing to write home about, While the soundtrack and audio is repetitive, dull, and ultimately forgettable. That being said the game does generally perform well, running at a nice solid 60fps in single player and online. However, playing in split screen does create noticeable slow down at times. Though it is worth noting that this will probably not happen if you intend to play on a PS4 Pro, moreover Mantis Burn Racing will be one of the few games running in Native 4k on the system.
Mantis Burn Racing’s fundamentals are all on point. The races themselves are fast-paced and fun, the controls are simple and responsive and the upgrading system works well. It’s just unfortunate that the presentation doesn’t quite measure up. The dull environments and forgettable soundtrack do a disservice to an otherwise strong racer.