(Xbox 360 Review) Bang Bang Racing

Developer: Digital Reality
Publisher: Digital Reality
Genre: Racing / Arcade
Players: 1-2
ESRB: Everyone
Reviewer: Scott Thibodeaux

Overall: 5 = Average

Bang Bang Racing is a top-down racer from developer-publisher Digital Reality. Although the feel of the game is very similar to retro games like Micro Machines—or for older gamers, the Super Off-Road series—there is enough here to give Bang Bang Racing its own unique identity. The solid graphics and challenging later stages make for a somewhat enjoyable (albeit forgettable) gameplay experience, but the replay value is crippled by a lack of online multiplayer.

Bang Bang Racing offers three racing modes: Career, Championship, and Free Play. Championship Mode is a circuit-style mode that lets players compete in a series of races. After each race, points are awarded based on finishing position, with the winner being whoever has the most points after the last race. Free Play simply offers players a chance to practice. The bulk of the game is the Career Mode, where players unlock new cars, races, stages, and other bonuses as they progress through four stages:  N-Dura (Muscle Cars), Evo GT (Street Racers), Protech (Endurance Style Racers), and Apex (Open Wheel Racers). However, there isn’t much variety in the types of races outside of the standard Elimination, Time Trial, Circuit, and standard single races, though the latter offers a few variations in how they are played. Short Lap Races feature shorter tracks, where each of the eight laps take around 10 seconds to complete; as a point of comparison, the standard race features five laps, each of which generally takes around 30 seconds to complete. Then, there is the occasional race where players drive the track in the opposite direction.

Players start each stage with one car and earn more as races are completed. The controls can be a little sluggish or loose at times, but most cars are manageable once the player gets a feel for them. During races, there are on-screen meters indicating how much damage the car has sustained and how much nitro remains. If the damage bar becomes empty, the car’s top speed decreases dramatically until the player enters the pit. Nitro recharges slowly throughout the race, but a trip to the pit will instantly replenish that as well.

Despite being the heart of the game, Career Mode got off to a slow start. I made it through the entire first two stages without ever coming in below first place; once the difficulty ramped up, however, I had to deal with rubber-band AI. No matter how well I drove, there was always someone on my tail, waiting until the final turns to pass me. Not only did this fail to keep the races exciting, I felt that this tactic was a cheap way to add an element of challenge. Eventually, I found that it was better to hang back in the middle of the pack until I neared the end of the penultimate lap, and then gradually work my way to first place over the course of the final lap. This needless self-restraint was frustrating, to say the least.

However, the game’s biggest detriment by far is the lack of online multiplayer. Its inclusion would have greatly increased the game’s replay value. Granted, players can still play split-screen local multiplayer, but considering that most multiplayer gaming these days is done online, this is a huge omission.

Bang Bang Racing
is not a bad game by any means. There are far worse racing games on Xbox Live Arcade, but then again, there are also far better. At 800 Microsoft Points, there are also other titles which have given me much more replay value. In fact, I really cannot see myself hitting the circuit again after the three or four hours it took me to complete it. While I enjoyed Bang Bang Racing at times, I would have a hard time recommending it.

(This review is based on a retail copy provided by the publisher.)

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