PC REVIEW: MICRO MACHINES V4

If you want to do a "little" racing, you would be hard pressed to find a more literal manifestation than Micro Machines V4. by Cole Smith

July 6, 2006 - This is the fourth in the series of miniature racing, where you drive tiny vehicles through ordinary household areas which take on new and wondrous characteristics from the shift in perspective. V4 is primarily aimed at kids and casual gamers that are looking for more adventure and less of a challenge.

Micro Machines V4 screenshot

Micro Machines V4 is essentially a novelty game. It has an arcade quality to it with short races, imaginative tracks, power-ups and a simplistic gameplay style that makes you feel as though you've already used some mighty powerful cheat codes on it. The appeal of this game is huge, but lasting appeal is another thing. The easy gameplay will bore hardcores within half-an-hour, and the weekend warrior will be hard pressed to get an hour out of it before swapping it for...anything. Those that just enjoy the mindlessness of the racing, which can be hypnotic, may also fall for the "collect-‘em-all" unlockable vehicles which number in the hundreds. Almost 800 in total. That's a lot of vehicles. There are 25 different vehicle classes. After you've collected about 50 of them, you'll begin to notice glaring similarities. The majority of these vehicles are just variations of only a handful of unique ones. They vary in shape, style and colors but show no differences in performance.

The controls couldn't be more basic, yet they are very effective and must be used in varying combinations. The controls include steering, acceleration and braking. By combining braking and accelerating you can powerslide around curves and dangerous objects. You will have to experiment with your timing and get the perfect braking-to-acceleration ratio to speed your way along the tracks. Hard steering can also result in sliding. The commands are responsive and despite the diminutive size of the cars, there is a decent sense of weight to them. After a short learning curve you'll hardly ever spin out of control by accident.

Micro Machines V4 screenshot

Racing through environments that include a living room, kitchen, pool table, games room, beach and other outdoor locations such as the backyard, you will encounter various obstacles and dangerous pitfalls. There are some 40 different tracks in total and while they are fun, they are also very short and repetitive as many of these tracks are just variations of a handful of original ones. Sound familiar?

To make things more interesting, weapons are available in the form of machine guns, plasma guns, a huge hammer, rocket launcher and electro-shocker, to name a few. There are 20 different weapons in all. They don't play a huge role in the gameplay but they add some diversion and let you blow things up. That's always welcome in a videogame. Keep in mind that racing is the main objective of the game and that using these weapons will severely slow your vehicle down, especially when using a weapon such as the plasma gun that requires charging. And speaking of slowing the pace down, the load times can be really annoying. It's not uncommon to wait up to half-a-minute between loads. When you see how average the graphics are and how short the tracks are, you'll wonder what the hell is up with the delay.

Most of the fun is in exploring new tracks. Even the cloned tracks can be fun as you might be able to find a new shortcut or locate new power-ups. The game uses these elements sparingly so that when you do find one it feels a lot more exciting than it really is.

Micro Machines V4 screenshot

Having checked out both versions, the PS2 and the PSP, the game is virtually identical on both systems with the exception of a few different features. Graphically it's more impressive on the PSP simply because I wasn't expecting it to look this good. The same cannot be said for the PS2 since I expect things to look at least this good - and a whole lot better to boot. It's bright and colorful and has a generic cartoon look that makes it look a little empty and a bit on the plastic side. The tracks are filled with objects and there is a good sense of spatial 3D depth but the environments just don't look natural. Each object looks as though it was rendered independently and slapped onto the screen. Which they were, but it just doesn't have to look that way. The sounds are low key, almost to the point of disappearing at times. The music is just basic arcade fare and does little to get your adrenaline pumping.

The PSP version features a four-player ad-hoc wireless mode while the PS2 version has a track editor, so that you can place those disparate items anywhere that you see fit. There are some extra features that you can access through connectivity of the two systems, but use a friend's version of the game and don't go out and rent another one, or worse yet, buy one if you already have a copy for your other system. These extra features are not worth it.

Micro Machines V4 screenshot

For quick and quirky racing fun it's hard to beat Micro Machines V4. It comes across like fireworks, in that it's a lot of intense fun for a short period of time but when it's over, it's over. Don't expect much replay value unless you're one of those compulsive types that has to "collect-‘em-all.

Features:

  • Engage in madcap competition racing with your micro motors on the wildest tracks around your house, yard and beyond...
  • Unlock bonus tracks with PSP to PS2 connectivity
  • Spin out round the breakfast table, turbo boost around the pool table or hit the gas as you race round the rim of the bath.
  • Unlockable multiplayer and singleplayer content.
  • Earn credits to unlock tracks and cars then trade with your friends
  • Hundreds of tiny turbo cars to collect or trade. Or, up the stakes when you play for keeps with ‘pink slip racing’
  • Use your arsenal of power ups to blast your opponents with the flamethrower or
    heat-seeking homing missiles to throw them off course.
  • Track editor choose your own route through the yard or science lab… then challenge your friends to do battle!

By Cole Smith
CCC Senior Writer

Rating out of 5
Micro Machines V4 (PC)
3.2
Graphics
Higher res on the PC of course, but nothing at all spectacular going on in the PC version.
4.2
Control
Despite the limited control system, you can get a lot of different moves out of it. It's fun and forgiving.
2.1
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The music is basic arcade fare and some of the sound effects just don't project any authority.
3.5
Play Value
Unless you're obsessed to collect all of the vehicles in this game, all 750 of them, you won't find much to come back for.
3.0
Overall Rating - Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
 
Micro Machines V4 Box Art
System: PSP, PC, PSP
Dev: Supersonic
Pub: Codemasters
Release: June 2006
Players: 1 - 4
Review by Cole

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best