To be honest, trying to come up with a quip-filled opening gambit for this game is impossible. In an attempt to recreate the rage-fuelled memories of your infancy, Scalextric will leave you with a feeling of utter fury and frustration. A complete lack of quality or work in this game means this must go down as one of the worst racing games this year. No hang on, EVER!
Remote control cars have delivered unparalleled joy to generations. When the first Scalextric was released in the 1950s, the brand went on to become, first, a British phenomenon and then a global one. The fast-paced racing and the agony when you took a turn too fast, causing your muscle car, Formula 1 car or whatever model you chose, to fly off the track! But are you better off sticking to the real thing?
Scalextric offers you two modes – single player race and two-player race, that’s it, although it does come with a choice of four styles of vehicles, from three muscle cars and one sports car. Obviously, being a remote control, on-rails racing game, there are no differences between the handling or speed in any of them. There is also a selection of 12 race tracks, all with the official layouts of their real-life Formula 1 counterparts, except you tend to run most of them in the opposite direction.
One fun addition is the “create a track” feature. With an unlimited selection of Scalextric track parts, players can create their own customisable tracks. To be honest, it’s more fun trying to become the next Hermann Tilke than it is to actually race your creations. The ability to add some trackside extras, such as toy grandstands or pit crews, would have been a novel addition.
Finally, you get into a race. And, woah, is this a shock. All excitement is immediately drained as the music suddenly silences and, as you blast off from the line, you are greeted with the most ear-piercing drone of the electric engine; it will almost certainly put you on the road to deafness. Plug your headphones in, then place them to one side; this is no masterpiece of sound design. For instance, I once stopped to see if the ambient noises would persist and, funnily enough, they don’t. The sound of your opposition does quieten the further away they get, but even though the levels are set in a living room, the sound then just disappears. Complete silence!
Things don’t get better when you concentrate on the visuals and the backgrounds are lifeless. While the look of the cars and the Scalextric track itself are a little detailed, this is a game that is bogged down by poor performance. See, as every vehicle takes a corner, the framerate tanks and stutters through each bend like an old cart-horse.
Then comes the final crash, literally. The instant you begin a race, the AI opponent takes off at top speed as your measly human-controlled machine sluggishly gets up to speed. If there’s one thing Scalextric nails, it is the frustration of your car flying off onto the laminate flooring, as you inevitably take a corner too fast. Yet the AI, in the beginning, never makes mistakes. And five infuriating laps later, or less if the game decides, it will spit you off at the slightest provocation, leaving you to select another track of torture. And whilst the AI level varies, it does not indicate any level of progress. The player has no option to choose a difficulty level, which is a mainstay in pretty much any racing or sports game.
In a nutshell, Scalextric on Xbox One is unbearably boring and pretty much broken. After seeing myself lose the first three races, then winning the fourth, the game stuck in a loading screen for 5 minutes, forcing a restart. Then, consistently after two or three races, depending on how generous it wanted to be, the AI would start making mistakes, allowing the chance to win a race, before seeing it all go into meltdown! It’s as if the game did not expect me to win and completely gave up. Like a kid playing with their toys and screaming “I don’t wanna play anymore!”. I would instead like to tell the game to grow up.
The freedom you are given to create or recreate any childhood memories is no redemption for the train wreck that is found in the complete lack of ambition, or care taken with the gameplay, presentation or performance of this game. It’s a shame that this tarnishes the Scalextric name. But it does. Massively.