The miniature arcade racing scene has seen a big resurgence in recent times with the likes of BlazeRush, Mantis Burn Racing, Super Toy Cars and Grand Prix Rock 'N Racing all vying for your attention with a few more on the horizon. Liverpool-based indie developer Playrise Digital have thrown their own miniature racing offering in to the mix and it could well be the best of the bunch.
Table Top Racing: World Tour is a sequel to Table Top Racing released originally for the iOS platform in 2013 which was followed by PlayStation Vita and Android versions the year after. World Tour doesn't exactly revolutionise the Table Top Racing formula but it does give players the chance to sample its miniature delights on the PlayStation 4 console for the first time, and an Xbox One version currently in the works.
Not Quite Ferrari
The main focus of Table Top Racing: World Tour is within its Championship mode. This mode is split between three main tiers each consisting of two series of events which all culminate in a final championship. Events are played in sequence and you'll need to obtain at least a third place finish to progress through.
Competing in events will see you earning credits and XP points, the latter unlocks additional special events which we'll get to later. Obtaining cash will enable you to purchase and upgrade vehicles, and boy, just look at those vehicles.
If Table Top Racing World Tour excels in one area, it has to be its sublimely detailed vehicles which are based off of real-world examples. There are three tiers of vehicles, each more powerful than the last, and naturally you are initially limited to the slower cars. The highly polished range of automotive offerings come with tongue in cheek names such as the “McHandful P16” (referencing McLaren's recent slump in performance in the Formula One world championship), the not-quite Ferrari “Fauxrari” and the ironically named “Treemaster C02” 4x4 vehicle.
Each of the 16 vehicles can be upgraded in the following areas: top speed, acceleration, handling and armour. You can also apply new wheels and liveries at a cost. Wheels are far from just cosmetic, and grant you new abilities. For example, the bling wheels increase money earned in events, shield wheels allow you to defend yourself from incoming weapons, centurion or spiked wheels enable you to do close-quarters damage whilst the peace wheels remove weapons from opponents. The boing wheels will allow your vehicle to jump into the air which can lead to otherwise inaccessible areas such as shortcuts or to gain supercoins (mostly hard to find coins that are scattered across the tracks) for money bonuses.
Driving (which takes place from behind the car) feels satisfying thanks to the responsive controls. Persevere with the slower vehicles and you'll be rewarded with more powerful machinery. The highest tiered cars are particularly satisfying to drive and you'll soon get in to a rhythm and flow where you are braking just before jumps so you don't overshoot and coming off the accelerator through tight bends to alleviate understeer.
Power-ups can be obtained in most events by driving through bubbles which will grant you a random item. They include missiles, speed boosts, mines (which look like bombs to me), and acid slicks. My favourite has to be the frostbite attack which encapsulates your unsuspecting foe in ice for a brief moment sending them sliding out of control. Timing an ice hit near the edge of the playing surface can send them skidding off the race track and falling to their doom which is extremely gratifying and somewhat evil.
Aside from the usual races, both with and without powerups, Table Top Racing: World Tour features the usual array of time trial, elimination and hot lap modes. However, to break up the usual action Playrise has included a drift mode which takes some mastering and a pursuit mode which sees you chasing down an opponent with the goal of ramming into them before the time expires.
The first two championships are easy enough to win and doing so will unlock superweapons which can be used to deal more damage to your opponents as you'd might expect, but also to access secret shortcuts and hidden supercoins.
Shortcuts range in visibility: some you'll spot easily, others you may never find. It's these extra layers of depth (which may not be obvious at first) to the environments which make the game stand out from other similar titles.
There are five locations in all, each with 4 variations for a total of 20 table top tracks. You'll race on yachts docked in Monaco with some obligatory campaign, a junk yard complete with moving machinery, or dodging fishy delights in a Yo! Sushi restaurant. There's also an 80's room full of retro tat and finally an auto garage full of various automotive parts.
Shiny and bright
All five environments are bright and vibrant and have a fairly polished appearance. The tracks themselves are on the short side (races typically last 2 or 3 minutes) but then World Tour doesn't want to weigh you down with long races and understands exactly what it wants to be. This is reflected in the main Championship mode which is about right in length and doesn't overstay its welcome.
Besides the championship mode, you can also compete in Special Events. These are a collection of events which are unlocked as you level up your XP. These events restrict you to a certain vehicle and limits are placed on wheel types too. This mode is rather clever as it gives you a genuine reason to buy all of the game's cars and wheel types, you can even carry over any upgrades you've performed on them too which is handy.
Once the novelty of the special events wears off, you always have the online multiplayer mode to dive into. Currently joining online multiplayer races is more miss than hit which can be very frustrating. However once you've successfully joined a server, the action ticks along at a rapid pace so you're never waiting long between races.
The action runs reasonably unwrinkled but is sadly not as smooth as the single player experience, but this is to be expected. Points are awarded depending upon your finishing position, but this provides little satisfaction as the player that has hung around the longest often is leading the tally.
The music score consists of over 20 audio tracks by Wes Smith which I found to be decent enough, however, breakbeat won't be to everyone's taste. The cars themselves sound decent enough for their miniature nature but don't expect anything too aggressive.
Table Top Racing: World Tour is a fun miniature arcade racing title which is probably best played in 30 minute doses here and there. Vehicle handling is satisfying and fun and the game has an online mode which is very competitive and the action can get extremely brutal at times.
The beauty with Table Top Racing: World Tour is that the experience can be as simple or as deep as you want it to be. You can opt into collecting all the stars and supercoins, unlocking all the secret routes and using all the available shortcuts or, if you prefer, leave them out completely - the choice is yours. With its budget price tag, it's easy to recommend giving Table Top Racing: World Tour a bash.