TNT Racers – The PS3 Attitude Review
Motosports come in all shapes and sizes, from the massively realistic races of Gran Turismo 5 to the slot cars of PixelJunk Racers. Somewhere in between lies TNT Racers; an arcade-style multiplayer racer where driving skill and power-ups determines the winner.
Originally released for the PSP and Wii, TNT Racers has finally made it to the PSN and Xbox LIVE. Does the downloadable title manage to pack an explosive punch, or does its fuse fizzle out before the starting flag is waved?
TNT Racers is different from many other similar games out there in that it focuses on quick, action-packed laps that require you to outpace your opponents in a variety of ways in order to actually win. Simply racing around the track the fastest won’t work most of the time. There a total of 18 tracks with four modes to choose from; Knock-Out, Score, Lap, and Time. Each mode has a different winning criterion. Knock-Out requires you to dispose of a certain number of competitors, Score requires you to reach a certain point value, and both lap and time require to you have the highest score at the end of either a certain number of laps or a specific amount of time. You get the gist.
The way you knock out opponents and essentially earn points is by causing excessive damage or by pushing them off the course or screen. The camera is constantly fixated on the vehicle in first place so fall too far behind and you’ll be knocked out of the race, sort to speak. When that happens, you’ll become a Shadow. Essentially, you’re a ghost car who can then screw with the remaining cars until there is a winner. Once there is only one car remaining, a new race begins from the same spot on the track until an ultimate winner is crowned based on the mode selected.
There are a variety of pickups scattered across the courses that can be used to dispose of your fellow racers. The Candy Cannon, for instance, allows you to fire pellets of candy at the cars ahead of you. The Tesla Coil acts as an electrical shield that provides cover from incoming projectiles and can be used to shock your opponents. Shadow racers even have an arsenal of weapons of their own like the Star Twister and Speed Disruptor. It’s up to you to figure out how to effectively use each weapon.
To introduce you to its unique gameplay and pickups, TNT Racers features 45 challenges scatter across three different speeds; Normal, Fast, and Turbo. Completing these challenges unlocks more tracks and vehicles to choose from. The challenges are a good way of getting adjusted to the game before jumping online and racing others. The handling of the vehicles feels somewhat stiff at first but after a few races, you’ll know how to properly control them.
Aside from the challenges, there isn’t much else in terms of the single player experience. There’s no championship race mode or anything available, which is a bit disappointing. The only thing you can do is hone your skills in the time trials. TNT Racers is categorized as a multiplayer racer so naturally that’s where the game’s focus is.
Unfortunately, its online lobbies suffer from a lack of people playing. Finding a match can be difficult. Much of my time was spent waiting in a lobby in hopes that somebody would join. The races I did manage to play worked perfectly, with no lag or disconnects. Races are just like their offline counterparts, only with human opponents. Local multiplayer is also an option if you don’t feel like waiting for a race, so all is not lost.
TNT Racers is fun in small doses as the races themselves can somewhat blend together. The object primarily consists of using pickups to destroy your opponents and come in first, regardless of which mode you pick. That’s what it takes to get the most knock-outs, and that’s what it takes to score the most points. It’s Shadow gameplay element is perhaps the most exciting and interesting aspect of the game, allowing players to continue racing dealing damage to the remaining racers.
At $9.99, it’s a difficult purchase to recommend. Completing all the challenges and unlocking all the vehicles and tracks is fun, but without a decent racing community, the game feels a little overpriced. There is a demo currently available, which is definitely worth checking out. TNT Racers isn’t as explosive as I was hoping for, but with a little more polish, it could be a sure fire winner.