|Micro Machines, V4 (2006)
Available for: PlayStation2 and PC
Somewhere back in the old days -- 1991 it was, actually -- Codemasters released the very first “Micro Machines” game for the NES. I remember renting it and having a pretty good time with my friends playing it. It was cool to zoom across breakfast tables with spilled Froot Loops and half eaten bowls of cereal amongst other wacky everyday locales that were super sized since you were racing the tiny Micro Machines. What? You don’t know what a Micro Machine is? Well, see, they were (are) these tiny, pint-sized collectible cars, sort of like Matchbox and Hot Wheels, but much smaller. I never really understood the appeal, but it did make for a pleasing, if inconsequential, racing video game.
So here we are many years later with the consoles going into their next gens and PCs spitting out more graphics and audio power than they ever have. And right along with all that is Codemasters still…and again! And for your racing pleasure they have issued “Micro Machines V4,” another installment into a racing franchise that I thought had died a long, long time ago. But this is not the case. Like other wacky series that should probably have been put to bed way before now, such as that whole “Worms” group of games, “Micro Machines” rolls along into the new millennium with average results. The first game way back when was good enough, so there’s not much to improve upon. But hey, anything to make a buck, right?
What I can’t quite fathom is why this thing is presented on a DVD-ROM for the PC. There’s nothing overtly special about the graphics or sound, so it can’t be a particularly “big” game compared to a regular CD-ROM game. Although, who knows, since it is only one disc. Also, let it be known that even though it is not listed anywhere on the system requirements, if you happen to have an nVidia GeForce FX 6600 card like I do, this thing will run fine. Alright, enough with the specs. How’s this game, anyway?
Well, it’s merely okay. And that’s okay in ever last aspect here. In the single player mode, you get to unlock a whole multitude of tracks and cars. These races range from battle mode events with wacky power ups such as hammers with which to smash your opponent and the usual missiles and machine guns, to straight ahead races and time trials. You know, the exact kind of thing we’ve all come to expect in most any racing game. The game’s AI is pretty good, even on the easiest setting, so you might actually be redoing a few of these races no matter what.
If you don’t like any of the pre-made tracks in the game (which include racing over a dinosaur museum’s display cases, a fast food restaurant’s short order grills, a model train set, and a pool table to name just a few of the many), there is a track editor with which you can create a course to your liking. Add to that an online system in which you can actually trade your cars with other players, and you have something a little newer added to the mix. And if you don’t want to waste all your time playing single player mode to unlock everything, you can just register your game on the Codemasters’ web site and send ‘em $5.49 through an online transaction and they will repay you with all the codes to unlock everything…which is exactly what I did.
Why? Because single player mode gets fucking boring, fast. I wanted to jump online and really experience the “Micro Machines V4” universe. Still, it’s not really enough to elevate this game beyond average status. While the online races are much more engaging and at times both hilarious and exciting, there’s just not that sense of this game really needing to be an online type of racer. Real players seemingly play exactly as good or bad as the decent AI racers in the game, so once again you’re pretty much at square one, although you can race for pink slips online, but who really cares? It’s a Micro Machine!
The game’s camera can also drive you batshit online as it constantly tries to keep pace with the lead car, which is what it’s supposed to do, as slower cars are supposed to be eliminated in the races, but if there’s system lag, which there seems to be a noticeable amount of on this game, you can often find yourself already out of the race as soon as it’s started, not being able to see your car at all onscreen, and then…too bad, you suck. But it’s no real big deal as you probably won’t be playing “Micro Machines V4” for very long, anyway. While it’s definitely something I can suggest for younger gamers out there who will undoubtedly find a lot to enjoy here (especially online, which is very simple – no chat rooms or in-game chat to wade through), seasoned racers will probably be ready to call it quits after a handful of online games. I think it’s safe to say that “Micro Machines” needs a complete overhaul to even be considered for future sequels.