Review: Table Top Racing (PlayStation Vita)

Table Top Racing: Official GBAtemp Review

PlayStation Vita 1,399 view 1 like 4 comments
Reviewed by Harold Morris, posted Aug 7, 2014
Aug 7, 2014
  • Release Date (NA): August 6, 2014
  • Release Date (EU): August 6, 2014
  • Release Date (JP): August 6, 2014
  • Publisher: Ripstone
  • Developer: Playrise Digital
  • Genres: Racing
  • ESRB Rating: Everyone
  • PEGI Rating: Three years and older
  • Also For:
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
    Co-operative
Table Top Racing started its life as an iOS and android free to play title. Inspired by retro racing games such as Micro Machines it pits you in a miniature world of toy car racing. Now on the Playstation Vita it has shed its free to play roots and has had a graphical lick of paint to become a budget priced PSN title. But can it hold up as a fully fledged retail title on the Vita?
Harold Morris

Table Top Racing makes its way onto the PS Vita as a budget title ported over from iOS and android. To many the fact that it began its life as a free to play iOS game would set alarm bells ringing that perhaps it won't exactly be a stellar title. Thankfully though this Micro Machines inspired racer pleasantly surprises for the most part and for its price really does offer a lot for such a small and reasonably priced package. The first thing that will strike you when you start playing are the graphics and pleasant design esthetics of the game. Each track of the eight on offer is based around a theme, be it at a beach barbeque, a Lego style castle and even a sushi restaurant. All the tracks have a good amount of detail and nice little graphical touches, even the backgrounds have had a lot of thought put into them which is nice to see. All the cars are cute and individual with the standard mix of race cars, trucks and sillier vehicles such as ice cream vans you would expect from a non serious toy based racer such as this. To top things off the game runs at a buttery smooth framerate for the most part which certainly helps any racer be more enjoyable to play and accentuates the effort gone into the backgrounds and tracks. Sadly as good as the game looks it is let down a little by its sound assets. With minimal basic engine noises and other sound effects topped off with a generic soft rock soundtrack the game is definitely easier on the eye than it is on the ear.

 

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The second thing you will notice is an extreme lack of speed and general excitement in the racing, for the first hour or two at least anyway. Having a tiered progression system and having to gradually unlock and upgrade your vehicles means that the first load of races against the AI in your little ice cream trucks are not exactly thrilling and serve as a bad introduction to the game. The controls also leave a little to be desired as the handling feels ever so slightly loose, however you will quickly get used to that and thankfully the controls are not terrible enough to be game breaking. As you slowly amass coins and upgrade your vehicles and unlock the more difficult races and challenges the game starts to become far more interesting. Coins being the currency of the game which you can earn by placing first, second or third in both offline races against the AI and online against real opponents. Alternatively you can buy coins for real money in the PSN store as a micro transaction. Thankfully spending money on extra coins isn't really a necessity as you are able to earn them fairly easily, but you will find yourself grinding a fair bit if you want to buy all the possible vehicles and upgrades in the game.

 

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You spend your hard earned coins in the garage where you can buy new vehicles or upgrade your already owned ones. There is a nice if not slightly generic selection of vehicles on offer and to earn enough coins to buy and upgrade them all will take a lot of races so there is a lot of longevity there for completionists. Upgrading vehicles consists of the usual fare of being able to upgrade your speed, armor, grip, turbo and so on with the added ability of being able to switch your hubcaps for special bonuses such as the ability to earn extra money, having temporary shields and so on. And upgrading your vehicles is vital because as you progress the difficulty gets really ramped up and you will find yourself having to fight harder and harder to win events. There are a lot of individual races and challenges for you to take part in as well as grand prix type championships. The championships consist of a series of challenge races consisting of the different race modes available in game and once you complete those you can compete in the season finale. If you manage to be placed first on points overall of the season finale you unlock a new car that is not available to buy in the garage. The variety of modes on offer are the standard ones you would expect from a racing game and range from time trials to elimination races to Mario Kart like battle races and so on. As well as the championships you can also compete in drift events and special events which consists of different challenges that must be completed with certain vehicles. Lastly you can take part in quick races of the games individual tracks with any game mode of your choosing.

 

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As well as having a decent number of single player races you can compete in Table Top Racing also has a multiplayer mode. Both local and online modes are supported but again what is on offer falls slightly short because of its barebones basic nature. Firstly the multiplayer mode only supports four players, two less than the single player races do where you race against five other opponents. As well as that you only have the option to race in a standard battle race with pick ups and none of the other modes. In fact the only real customization options for the online racing that you have is being able to set the amount of laps in the race, being able to pick what track to play on and selecting which vehicle everyone uses. Despite its limitations however the multiplayer can be very fun even though the weapons and pick ups at your disposal feel slightly underpowered and are pretty unimaginative. You only have four potential pick ups at your disposal in game, a rocket that automatically locks on to your nearest opponent, a mine that you can drop behind you, an emp pulse that has a small area of effect slowing effect around you and finally a boost. All of these pick ups feel weak to use with only a minimal impact on the target you use them on, they are also distributed far too ubiquitously throughout the tracks and you will find yourself passing by a pick up box every few seconds in a race.

 

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Overall Table Top racing is a fun but flawed package. With a little more effort this could have been a truly great little title but unfortunately its budget priced free to play roots often betray its shiny graphical gloss. There is no doubt that you can very easily rack up a lot of playtime with this title and have a lot of fun in the process of doing so but the lazy and unimaginative omissions in its design will become all to obvious to those who spend time playing it. This is a shame because the game does have a lot to offer for its low price and it is charming and pretty enough to make you wish you could like it more. But regardless you will have fun playing through it and there is a good challenge to be had in its many races and events. The addition of online multiplayer even though it is barebones also adds longevity to the overall product and with all things considered the game does just about enough of everything, just about well enough, to get a very respectable score. If you have £5 to spare and want a fun little time killer that you will probably find yourself returning to for a quick little game session every so often you could do a lot worse than spending that £5 on Table Top Racing.

 

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Verdict
Pros
+ Nice graphics with a silky smooth framerate
+ Lots of content on offer for the games rock bottom price
+ A good challenge later on
+ Online and local multiplayer can be very fun
Cons
- Does not take any risks and has nothing new to offer
- Some grinding required to unlock content
- Early races are too easy and bland
- Puny feeling power ups and weapons
7 Presentation
Table Top Racing really benefits from the smoothness of its framerate with really good looking and detailed environments which have a lot of charm. The sound assets aren't so great however with a generic soft rock soundtrack and basic minimal sound effects.
6 Gameplay
At first you might verge on the point of boredom due to the low difficulty of the early races, however after a few hours of play you will find a good challenge here as the racing gets more frantic. That being said there is nothing new or unique on show here and the game is very by the numbers and safe. The controls and car physics could have done with a little tightening up also.
7 Lasting Appeal
With plenty to unlock and customize you certainly get your moneys worth here. There are tons of race modes, challenges, special events and grand prix's to keep you occupied in single player. Multiplayer is basic and barebones but still fun in short bursts so overall there is more than enough content to keep you coming back to table Top Racing.
7
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
Table Top Racing is a solid budget title that is by no means perfect but definitely has enough charm and content to keep you playing. A bit more depth, originality and tighter controls would have made this a must have title to own but despite its faults most people will still get their moneys worth from it.
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