Micro Machines V4
For: Windows PC
Genre: Action, Racing
ESRB Rating: G (General Audiences)
Micro Machines V4
The MicroMachines franchise has been long revered for its great, fun-for-all racing that has you zipping toy cars through all sorts of comparatively-gigantic home and garden environments dressed up like obstacle courses.
Unique to the racing genre, MicroMachines races played against the computer or friends all take place on the same screen (as opposed to split screen) and as one player pulls ahead, the overhead camera pans back so you can all see what's going on, but only to a point. When the forerunner has a big enough lead, the game stops, a bonus is awarded and then play continues with all cars reset beside each other while the loser gets pole position to even things up. So each race is won by taking a long lead more often than everyone else, not by crossing the finish line first. Pretty cool. Throw in some silly little power-ups and impediments--zappers, dice bombs, rockets, etc.--and you're in for some genuine neck-and-neck racing with edge of your seat, anxiety-ridden giggles throughout.
Not much has changed in the new MicroMachines V4 save for some updated graphics and fresh variations on the obstacle courses and environments, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. First off, it's only twenty bucks, so you can't expect a complete franchise overhaul--it wasn't in need of one anyway. Too, its "easy" difficulty setting clearly has tots in mind, though there's great challenge for seasoned racers looking from some raucous, harmless and distinctive fun on harder settings. Great for parents vs. kids competitions too--up to four at a time.
On the downside, you'll probably want a controller or four for PC play as the keyboard can be a little restrictive (like when trying to make a wide turn with only a hard left key available, so you're steering with stuttering nudges).
Also, while V4 apparently has an online multi-player component, it either wasn't working or there was absolutely zero people playing when tested--and the game menu is so primitive that there's no way to gauge which, much less troubleshoot.
Still, a great, home-based, multiplayer, fun-for-all racing game worthy of its pedigree.