Mantis Burn Racing. The race is on!

The race is on in Mantis Burn Racing, where fast-paced bumper-to-bumper racing combines with intuitive, tactile gameplay and stunning visuals in one of the best-looking and most immersive top-down racers around. Drive incredible built-for-racing vehicles across highly detailed, visually stunning tracks, in high-risk, high-speed races where winning is everything. Prove your skills in an extensive career mode and take on friends with 4-player local split-screen racing and online modes for up to 8 players in ‘one-more-go’ style competitive racing. With a RPG-style upgrade system providing players with deep tactical choices and excellent replay-ability, this is racing at its rawest but most exciting!

Mantis Burn Racing is a top down racing game with echoes of the classic Micro Machines and Rock ‘n Roll Racing. Developed and published by VooFoo Studios, the company behind other titles including the hugely popular Pure Pool on Xbox One, in my opinion this game is on the way to becoming an instant hit. The simplicity of this games controls are perfectly suited to this title and ensure that your full concentration is applied at every turn. The left thumbstick controls the direction of your car while right trigger is accelerate, left trigger is brake and you use the right bumper to change your view angle. As a top-down racer the view is always just that, top down, but the angle that the camera is on can be changed to either Dynamic, Tight, Static or Standard so there’s plenty of options to suit any player.

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Although the controls are basic this doesn’t mean that it’s an easy game to play, some of the circuits are deceptively hard and result in much hair pulling. Throw in an AI driver or 5 and another element of difficulty manifests itself. As you progress through the game this AI gets increasingly faster, harder to pass and even more desperate to win than you so you’re kept on your toes at all times. You also have a boost which grants you a temporary burst of speed to regain the lead or just for giggles as you blast over a jump. This boost is filled by drifting and is used by pressing the A button once it’s full.

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Mantis Burn Racing offers up three class of cars, Lightweight, Medium and Heavy and ten different cars to unlock and use. These classes and their roles in the game are pretty self explanatory and so are their attributes. Lightweight class are fast to accelerate and are quite easy to throw into a drift to negotiate tighter bends at the same time as having quite a low top speed. The Heavy is a weighty monstrosity that gets quite tricky to control through tighter sections of any circuit but has a better top speed overall. The medium class nestles comfortably in-between with a balance of speed and control with good acceleration and is the usual go-to car for most events in which you’re given the choice of cars to compete in. There are Rookie, Pro and Veteran levels to play through with three seasons in each of these skill brackets. With a good mix of events like Knockout, Time-trials, Overtake challenges, Single and League style racing, sprint races and even accumulators, there is plenty to do. All of these stages reward your wins with things called Gears and these Gears are used to unlock new stages in each of the seasons which open up as you progress through the game with a certain number needed to unlock the next season. Winning isn’t the only way to earn these Gears though and as well as earning money for 1st, 2nd and 3rd you also get individual rewards for specific tasks in each race. At the top left of the screenshot below you can see in this particular instance that you can win a total of 6 extra gears for: winning, reaching 130mph and for having a total race time of less than 3 minutes 15 seconds. There are plenty of these to complete in each season so you have plenty to come back to try and earn. There are also 48 achievements up for grabs as well for a total of 1000 gamerscore so the achievement hunters have another level of play to get involved with.

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You have upgrades to add to each car and this adds yet another element to the game and how you approach each event. Cars start with three slots in which you place upgrades but as you earn more money you can pay to unlock more slots for upgrades, the most i’ve seen so far is 18 slots on one car. These upgrades are in the form of Suspension, Gearbox, Engine, Boost duration and Tyres. These upgrades affect the handling characteristics of each car but can also have an adverse effect, too much power for instance will see you spinning on the spot and losing traction at the start grid, so choose your particular upgrade wisely.

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As I said earlier in this review this games enjoyment comes from it’s simplicity and not only is it easy to pick up and play but it’s also a very good looking game. The graphics are perfect with just enough frame rate, that never drops, to be very easy on the eye as you blast around the beautifully drawn backdrops. From cityscapes to deserts and even through a storm drain, the stages and challenges you face are numerous and not once does it feel like you’re stuck in a virtual groundhog day. It doesn’t stop there though, once your cars are built up to spec, and you’ve become suitably adept at navigating the many circuits and layouts, you can take your race career even further and challenge your friends with 4-player local split-screen racing. You could also join an online lobby for up to 8 players and take part with others in competitive online racing. For a game that requires a shade over 5.Gb Mantis Burn Racing is an awesome buy and well worth the hard-drive space.

Graphics. 9/10
A very good looking game. With car models and tracks perfectly rendered and backdrops looking very crisp, no frame drop that i’ve seen and really fluid gameplay means that I have absolutely no problem in earning a very solid 8 out of 10 from me. A mark off for the limited custom paint colour choices for the different cars.

Story. N/A
No story to speak of as you plough through season after season but the way the game gets progressively harder, with better AI and torturous circuits in later levels, it’s a title that ambles along at a good rate. The speed and frequency that these new stages pop up is perfectly timed and help to create a very good game. Although no score is given it’s not because content is lacking.

Sound. 8/10
This game harks back to classic games like Super Sprint and Micro Machines in it’s overall gameplay. The choice to add what sounds like 8-Bit sampled sounds to create the music is a great idea and really fits this game. Even the menu music rocks! A little more variety would have been nice but I have been playing this game relentlessly all day so a repeat every now and then is bound to happen.

Satisfaction. 10/10
This a combined score for value for money and replayability. A very well put together and polished game with oodles to do. There is plenty of gameplay and lots to unlock, earn and upgrade which means VooFoo is a must for any gamer. An excellent pick up and play as well as multiplayer and online play give you hours of single player career play and endless hours of multiplayer gaming, all for £11.99. With 48 achievements to unlock, and 1000 points up for grabs for your gamerscore, there is so much to do and plenty to keep you coming back. The addition of special weekly challenges is a great idea and will help to push this games to the top of the charts. I simply cannot get enough of this game.

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