Your pulse is racing, palms are sweaty, the warm wind is coursing across the barren desert but you barely notice it because you’re focused, it’s just you, your machine and one goal, winning. Several others with the same motivation line up next to you and the pressure starts to build, you feel nervous but in control, in the distance, you hear a booming loud speaker, “LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, START YOUR ENGINES!” This is it, the moment you’ve trained for, the moment you live for. Welcome to the world of Mantis Burn Racing.
Mantis Burn Racing, from game developer VooFoo Studios, has one very simple goal, win. You race around in both on-road and off-road vehicles in a bumper-to-bumper, high risk, high reward racing situation with some unique choices to upgrade your vehicle to secure that next big win. The game is an amazing break from the usual racer titles with its top down camera view. It brings back those fond memories of Micro Machines and Indy 500 from the Atari and DOS based systems, but it does it on such a grand scale.
Aesthetically the game is just beautiful, with powerful scenery that jumps to life as you fly your way around the well thought out track layouts. You can’t help but get distracted and realise just how much effort the developers have put in to give the player an immersive and just plain awe-inspiring setting to slide their way to their next win. However, after all of the effort that has gone into the scenery, the vehicles themselves while you’re racing, are strongly overshadowed by it. While the vehicle models are quite pleasing to the eye, they just can’t hold a candle to everything else, but hopefully given this game is still in Early Access, the vehicles can be modified slightly to make them stand out just as much as the rest of the game. The dust and smoke effects from the wheels while flying around the track are visually pleasing and not in any way overdone, just the right amount to add depth to the scenes. Also, when you find out that some fences are able to be destroyed by running into or over them, it brings a whole new level of carnage to the game.
The vehicles themselves are an interesting and edgy design and overall make you happy to own them. With fully customisable paint and turbo boost colours, you can make every vehicle truly suit the user. There is a Role-Playing Game (RPG) style upgrade system for each vehicle and this truly lets you be prepared for any track and any opponent. Modifying and upgrading anything from your wheels and suspension to your nitro and engine, just don’t forget to upgrade your wheels if you actually want to go around that corner and not through it. With every car upgrade, you get an upgraded look that lets your opponents know that you mean business. You’ll get a few interesting choices in vehicles, from a truck to a sporty sedan, even an off-road buggy, all are fun to drive and have their own strengths and weaknesses.
While racing around Mantis Burn Racing, you’ll notice the game-play is smooth, controllable, and about as fast-paced as the player will let it be. With both simple and advanced tracks, you’ll always find something to help you burn some rubber and make your day better. However, at this early stage of the game, tracks did feel quite repetitive and just when you think you have had enough of one track, there is a switch up and you’re running the same track in reverse. While this does add another challenging aspect to the game, it does get a touch boring after a while. Given that most races are short, you’ll not take long to head onto your next challenge, which, when you’re least expecting it, you will be dropped onto a new track and have to find a way to master that while still trying to retain pole position.
Career mode is great, featuring seven seasons of racing with power-ups for your vehicles and levels to be gained along the way, with some interesting race types involved. It gives you difficulty levels from Rookie to Professional, which should keep even the most hardcore gamers at bay for a fairly long time. There is an option for a four player local split-screen game, so you and three of your friends can duke it out to see who has the best skills and ultimately the bragging rights for the next week. If you would like to step it up another notch, there is also an eight-player online multiplayer to see how you fair against the world.
Mantis Burn Racing really filled a void in the gaming industry that has been there for so long, while there are other racing games out there, none do the job quite as well as this one does, and for good reason. With stunning visuals and smooth gameplay, not to mention the amazing soundtrack that goes with it, Mantis Burn Racing has really burst onto the scene and said; “WE ARE HERE”. For an Early Access game you normally wouldn’t expect a whole lot, but once in a while you’re totally shocked and surprised by one and all you can say is, Wow! This game is definitely worth the $12.99 USD it’s being advertised for, and then some. It will be great to see what happens when the final release hits the Steam store.