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Mantis Burn Racing Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Despite solid gameplay and a fun retro theme, Mantis Burn Racing suffers due to an overlong single-player campaign and a shocking lack of content. With only a few tracks to race, this racing game quickly grows repetitive. VooFoo Studios is on the right track, but their newest game never quite comes together. Rating: 40%
Mantis Burn Racing
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  • Review Score:

  • C-
If you were making a racing game in the 8-bit era, you really only had a couple choices. You could try to make a 3D game without polygons, or you could take the overhead approach. Many opted for 3D; giving us choppy scaling that only slightly resembled the real sport. But while I enjoyed OutRun and Rad Racer back in the day, I always felt like top-down racing games were better suited for the limited hardware.

As the years pass and technology leads to ever more realistic games, I find myself yearning for the simplicity of those old school overhead racers. And apparently I'm not the only one, because here comes Mantis Burn Racing, a retro-inspired speedster that gives us the fast-paced action we crave from a slightly different perspective.


VooFoo Studio's newest release is, for better or worse, as straight forward a racing game as you're bound to get in 2016. There aren't hundreds of licensed cars to choose from or sponsorship deals to accept, because this is a top-down racing game where all you do is hit the gas and occasionally slam on the brakes. There's not even an emergency brake, you just speed up and slow down.

Despite the simplistic gameplay, Mantis Burn Racing offers quite an elaborate single-player campaign. There are nearly one-hundred events spread across several different speed classes, giving us quite a bit to work through. These different events rotate through a variety of familiar racing cliches, such as the traditional time trial and the knock out race. Perhaps the most interesting variation involves earning points for staying in first, a fun twist on the formula that ultimately still feels like a straight-forward race.

Given all these different events to complete, you might think that Mantis Burn Racing is full of exotic locations to drive. Guess again, because VooFoo's newest game is woefully lacking when it comes to content. There are really only two locations to race, one in the middle of the desert and the other at night in the urban sprawl. Each of these locations has a few different tracks to race, as well as mirror versions that have you racing the tracks backwards.

Mantis Burn Racing (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

You don't have to be a mathematician to know that eight tracks spread across nearly one-hundred events is bound to add up to repetition. And you don't have to wait very long for the repetition to kick in. Right from the get-go, it seemed like I was racing the same track four or five times in a row. To make matters worse, all of the tracks end up looking the same. They use the same locations, obstacles and shortcuts. They don't even bother changing the time of day, forcing us to sit through hours of racing one identical looking track after another.

This problem is only compounded when you take a trip into the garage. Each speed class only has three cars to choose from -- light, medium and heavy. You can buy additional cars, but they all look somewhat the same and neatly fit into those three weight classes. About the most you can do is equip new parts to the vehicles to make them faster and more durable. But even this is fraught with issues. The game makes no effort to explain the upgrades, so I was just guessing that the parts would work as promised.

I don't know if they simply ran out of time or what, but Mantis Burn Racing's single-player campaign was clearly designed with the idea that there would be a lot more content to play. But there isn't. It's just the same handful of tracks repeated over and over with little to no change. It's an experience that seems determined to wear you down through repetition, like a band that plays the same song over and over until you can't take it anymore. Either this game needs to be a quarter of the length or it needs a significant boost in content.

Mantis Burn Racing (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

For what it's worth, the developers do give you one incentive to play each stage. Beyond being necessary to advance the single-player campaign, each event will give you three optional missions to complete. You'll need to win a race without hitting any other cars, hit a certain amount of time, destroy enough debris on the side of the road and all kinds of other fun quests. This helps break up some of the monotony, but the insanely long load times will keep your excitement grounded.

This is a real shame, since I liked a lot about the actual racing. While not very deep, I felt the cars were responsive and I had a good time zipping through the city streets. But no matter how fun the core mechanics are, this racing game crashes and burns due to a depressing lack of content. Perhaps that's why they call it Mantis Burn Racing.
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