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WildTrax Racing Review

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Pinball and racing. It’s an odd pairing for a developer, but Super PowerUp Games have been alternating between the two for the best part of the year. It feels like the odd months have seen the release of games like Titans Pinball, Dragon Pinball and Pirates Pinball, while the even months have seen Speed Truck Racing, Speedway Racing and Rally Rock ‘N Racing. They’re challenging for the title of most prolific Xbox devs while straddling two completely different genres.

Their racing games tend to have a North Star: a game from racing’s past that they’re aiming to emulate. Speedway Racing shot for Daytona, while Rally Rock ‘N Racing aimed for SEGA Rally. In WildTrax Racing’s case, it wants to be Motorstorm. And we’re fine with that, mostly because there hasn’t been a Motorstorm game since 2012. There also hasn’t been one on Xbox since, well, never. So go ahead, WildTrax Racing – be our Motorstorm. 

wildtrax racing review 1
How many places can you make up in WildTrax Racing?

What this means is that circuits are out, and freeform, open courses are in. Each of the tracks begins with you in 40th place, and no cars remotely close to you. The countdown begins and then you’re hurtling forwards through open terrain, wondering where in Dakar you’re meant to be going. An arrow suggests the general direction that you should be heading, and it’s the racing equivalent of a leap of faith as you hope that’s where the next checkpoint will be. 

Before long, your opponents start appearing. They’ve had their engines replaced with hamsters in wheels, so they never threaten to overtake. But they get in the way, and they’re mostly moving obstacles that you have to sidle past and avoid. Soon, you’re racing through to thirtieth, twentieth and so on, as you barely make it through checkpoints with seconds to spare. If you’re good – and you do need to be rather good at WildTrax Racing to succeed – then you might even find a checkered flag and victory.

It being a Motorstorm homage, WildTrax’s tracks are undulating and freeform. You can follow in the slipstream of other cars if you want, and that will definitely help to point you the right way. But the optimal approach is always to shave off corners, or shave off whole swathes of the track if you can find the relevant shortcut. WildTrax Racing loves sand dunes and hills, so you can also find yourself sailing over chunks of the track if you time a turbo well. We suspect that, if you could get an airlift to the end of the track, WildTrax Racing would be fine with it. 

Half-cheating your way to victory is really rather fun. Once you realise that, yep, it’s what WildTrax Racing wants you to do, and you will likely fail if you don’t, then you can relish it. Spotting a gap between cacti or dinosaur bones has a special kind of thrill, and you can often bypass a good five or six cars by taking the biggest shortcut. Of course, play multiple times and the shortcuts get burned into the mind, and you can muscle-memory your way to the best times.

wildtrax racing review 2
Turbo!?

The caveat is that on the first few playthroughs, the tracks are incredibly hard to read. The arrow should have come to the rescue, but it’s a liability. It wiggles about like it’s making its mind up, then jack-knifes into the direction it wants to go in. When you’re plotting a racing line from the very moment you enter an arena, it can be a pain. Too often, we found ourselves handbrake-turning into a new direction because the arrow sold us down the river. 

A map would have been nice. Or a large pillar of light at the exit, as a kind of waypoint. It might have made WildTrax Racing too easy, but there are always ways round that: make the opponents faster or more aggressive, perhaps. The result is that WildTrax Racing is a game you have to learn, and we’d rather it didn’t fall into that camp. When you’ve got a four-player multiplayer mode, you don’t want half of the players asking each other where to go. 

Something that we find endearing about the Super PowerUp racing games is that you can see, from one release to the next, the designers and developers improving. The gameplay of WildTrax Racing is better than Speed Truck Racing, which is better than the ones that came before it, and so on. It’s pretty good on the sticks. You can jab the brake to drift round corners, while, sure, the handling has a momentary latency – you get used to a half-second wait before the car swings to a new direction – but is otherwise well done. It feels fast and responsive. 

But it wouldn’t be a Super PowerUp game without some customary jankiness. Collision detection is supremely wonky, as some rocks and cliffs allow you to sail through them, while others will stop you stock-still when you haven’t even touched them. As with many of their games, hitting a ramp or jump can often be a death-knell. You can’t correct your jump particularly, and they have you sailing high and slowly into rock faces. Even if you manage to avoid a boulder, the suspension of your car will cause you to stop pretty much still. You end up avoiding jumps where you can, when ramps should instead be tempting. 

wildtrax racing review 3
It’s like Dakar, but different

But as the quality of the racing goes up with each of the titles, the depth goes down. WildTrax Racing is not a game that you will be playing for more than an hour or two. Three tracks are included, and while they feel distinctive – Dinosaur Canyon is claustrophobic and littered with obstacles, while Hard Rocks is so wide that you could fit a cruise ship through – they’re also over in a couple of minutes. There’s a generosity to those couple of minutes, as the tracks don’t have laps, so every turn offers something new. But it’s not enough. 

The only motivations to replay a track are a global highscore table (get in there quick, it’s pretty easy to ratchet a top ten) and four-player multiplayer. There’s no mode that stitches the levels together into a grand prix, nor is there a mirror mode or alternate weather. WildTrax Racing can’t supply a strong reason for why you should persist past your third or fourth completion. 

But hol’ up, WildTrax Racing is only £6.69. Are three tracks and a deficit of game modes enough to make a purchase worthwhile? It’s so neck-and-neck between yes and no that we can’t call it. We’re going to be cowardly and put it on you: if you’re motivated by highscore tables and have three friends who reminisce about Motorstorm, then WildTrax Racing is just about worth it. But if you want polish and value for your cash, then you might want to wait for what Super PowerUp Games make next.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • We’re always up for a return to Motorstorm
  • Freeform racing feels great
  • Basic racing is great on the sticks
Cons:
  • Some collision issues
  • Three tracks just ain’t enough
  • Lacks depth and replayability
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to : Purchased by TXH
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One
  • Release date and price - 4 August 2023 | £6.69
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>We’re always up for a return to Motorstorm</li> <li>Freeform racing feels great</li> <li>Basic racing is great on the sticks</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Some collision issues</li> <li>Three tracks just ain’t enough</li> <li>Lacks depth and replayability</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to : Purchased by TXH</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One <li>Release date and price - 4 August 2023 | £6.69</li> </ul>WildTrax Racing Review
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