Our Mantis Burn Racing Review
The audio in Mantis Burn Racing is described as an “ambient electro” soundtrack which is original and specifically made for the game. That may be the case but I didn’t find any of the tracks memorable or that enjoyable to listen too and at times I wish there had been more work done on this aspect of the game. The audio tracks sound generic, the sound effects are all ok but nothing mind-blowing. For me, everything in the sound department needed improving but then again I have to remind myself this is an indie title.
The visuals in Mantis Burn Racing have a really appealing aesthetic to them the top down look of this game is not something which is all that common these days especially with the power these consoles are now capable of so it’s refreshing to see. The cars look good enough especially when selecting them on the selection screen. The landscapes look really nice especially the backgrounds where there are 3 main background themes. Natural sand looking levels, snow and then man-made concrete tracks with buildings in the background.
It’s enjoyable watching the cars spray up all the sand in the air when racing on sand, or how the cars spread objects all over the place when hitting them. In a way, the car selection screen reminded me of Rocket League which I reviewed recently. You have quite a few options for changing the colour of your boost to the colour of your car.
It’s a nice touch when you upgrade your car to the next level that the car slightly changes to show that it has more aggressive parts fitted. The impressive thing here is the game runs at 60 FPS both in docked and in handheld mode and there was no slowdown I could detect which was good to see. It ran buttery smooth. The only thing which I think let’s it down is the variety.
I want to get the negatives off my chest straight away and then we can talk about the things the game does well. I have to reiterate that this game for me anyways was not too far from being great but for some design decisions. First of all the career mode which let me add is extensive. Its shown in a path like a system and to a certain extent you can choose your route and you will have to complete 150 events which at first sounds great.
The problem is you have 12 tracks overall and the Switch version includes the snowbound DLC pack in this version. All tracks are mirrored or reversed in effect making 24 tracks but it becomes really repetitive rather quickly. The reason for this is you are playing the same tracks over and over again in the career mode especially at the beginning and if the player does not have patience they could get turned off quickly by that and then not return to the game.
Perseverance here is certainly key and I can understand why the developer has made it this way so you can build up to the faster classes. As this is where you will require the most skill and of course the use of the brake! The second and probably most worrying is the online mode.
The developer has actually done a fantastic job and it’s easy to set up races with friends or to join a lobby and play with randoms. You even have cross-platform play here so you can play with friends on an Xbox, PS4 or PC. The second game to offer this along with Rocket League. If you really want to just play against people on Switch you can turn this option off. The problem is that there is hardly anyone to play with! the player base on the other platforms has already moved on.
Often I struggled to set up a race with a full 8 players and that was with Cross-platform turned on which tells me there are not many people playing this on any platform right now and on Switch, not many have bought the game yet. So if your someone that likes to play online you may have trouble playing with others unless you have some friends you can play with who also own the game.
Whilst we are on the subject the Switch offers a split screen mode where up to 4 players can play in docked mode or 2 players on the Switch itself which I think VooFoo have made fantastic use of the system’s capabilities. You can also play with up to 8 switches locally linked together which sounds as if it could be great fun and is something we will certainly be taking part in, in the Christmas holidays.
In terms of what the game does well, the controls and mechanics are spot on and the cars feel really good to control. It’s really enjoyable drifting around corners, jumping over large bumps and boosting to overtake feels great. Some tracks have nice little shortcuts which are nice to discover to get the advantage.
The learning curve is actually really well implemented and I can actually see why the developer makes you replay the tracks so many times because you do need to memorise them. At first it’s easy but later on it’s much more of a challenge. Boost is acquired by either drifting or jumping. Once the boost bar is full you can use it tactically when you need to overtake. The races feel for the most part quite well balanced. There are 3 classes of vehicle which were in the original game. The Switch version brings with it the DLC Elite class which includes hover vehicles and the Battle class where cars have machine guns and mine launchers for extra added carnage. Away from the career mode, you can set up quick races against the AI.
There are 12 modes to choose from so you will be covered here ranging from time trials, survival, overtaking, spotlight and battle modes. You will get to experience all of these within the career mode. There are a number of upgrades you can make to your vehicle from suspension to boosts lasting longer. You will need to pick up gears and the upgrade system is nice and simple to use. As you go from Rookie, Pro, Veteran and finally to Elite where you can play with hover vehicles, the difficulty increases as you will need to use your skill to make sure you are able to navigate the corners whilst drifting or flying and breaking at the right times.
The game becomes more fun as you get further in but as stated earlier it requires you getting over the initial grinding nature of the game and that doesn’t really cease throughout. You can also acquire other vehicles with credits to take part in other types of races requiring different vehicles in the career mode.
The game offers a significant amount of content here for £15 which will keep many happy. There are 150 events and a comprehensive online mode. The game also includes all DLC VooFoo have ever released for the game all in one package.