Updated: Mini Motor Racing Review

Mini Motor Racing received a pretty significant update recently, the most notable new feature being a new option for online multiplayer races. The game fishes for opponents via Game Center, so you can play with pals, or hustle some random schmoes.

You’re much better off racing with friends, though: we tried scouting for random racers at multiple points throughout the day, and usually came up empty after long, long waits. An improved lobby would be a small but welcome addition, provided it let us know how the search for other racers was going (and if it gave us something to stare at besides a “SEARCHING” screen). On the rare occasions we did connect, however, the racing went smoothly.

Accurately steering and controlling vehicles in iOS racing games has long been problematic; putting your finger to a button isn’t the same thing as stepping on the gas, but slamming a controller button instead of a gas pedal makes for a similar sensation that the touch screen can’t match. More importantly, iOS racing games generally requre a lot of sliding around while your sweaty thumb slips off your virtual wheel over and over.

Here comes a nice change. Mini Motor Racing for the iOS controls well, but that’s not the only reason we wholeheartedly recommend it. It also looks fantastic, maintains a moderate balance between free-to-play content and optional in-game purchases, and is just gosh darn fun to play.

Drift to win.

Mini Motor Racing gives you a top down/isometric view of the racing action. Your goal is simple: vroom vroom. Standard to most racing games, you can play a Quick Race, or you can work through the game’s Career Mode.

In Career Mode, you choose from one of four car types, including Hatch, Big Rig, Pickup, and Sports. You advance from track to track and earn cash for racing well. Your cash goes towards upgrading your car of choice to make it faster and easier to handle.

The upgrade options in Mini Motor Racing aren’t very complicated, but they allows for a pleasing amount of vehicle customization. Instead of being forced to give up speed for handling, you can have your fast car and drive it, too. And while you’ll still want to improve your car’s handling as you play, the game doesn’t force you into it; the default controls are comfortable, thanks to multiple control options (go for the wheel). There are a couple of hiccups, namely the gas pedal (which you’ll instinctively jam, and your thumb will ache big-time as a result), and the awkward placement of your nitro boost.

Watch for swimmers.

You’ll forgive all of Mini Motor’s quirks, though, when you lay eyes on each new track. Setting-wise, the game presents pretty standard arcade fare: you have your urban and rural racetracks that wind through mountains, cities, and shipping docks. Ill weather occasionally accompanies the racers, in addition to a day and night cycle. But Mini Motor’s aesthetic strength is in in the details. Cars burn rubber with every sharp turn they make, and the treadmarks linger on the road through the entire race. Night races are dim, and your car’s headlights spear through gloom.

Mini Motor Racing doesn’t do anything new, but that’s not its goal. It wants only to bring a solid racing game to iOS, and it does that with the ease of a sports car slipping down a greased track. If you’ve been wanting for an arcade-style iOS racing game, this is the one to back out of the garage.

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