It's no secret that arcade racers have sort of gone away for most of PlayStation 4's lifespan. Most of the generation's best racing games lean towards simulation, which is fine, but those looking for a more casual experience don't have nearly as many options. This is where Hotshot Racing slides sideways into view, with all the drifting, boosting, and SEGA blue skies you could hope for.
This is as arcadey a racing game as you'd hope to find on PS4, directly inspired by classics like Virtua Racing and Daytona USA. You can see that in the polygonal art style; it's simple, but it allows for vivid colours and an extremely clear image. In motion, it looks great, especially as the game runs at a flawless 60 frames per second.
There are four Grand Prix championships to enter, with three difficulty settings changing the overall speed and how aggressive the AI is. Eight distinct characters have simple backstories, as well as charming little sequences when they win a Grand Prix. They each have access to four cars; an all-rounder, and then vehicles tuned for acceleration, top speed, and drifting. You can certainly feel the difference on the track, but it's balanced so that any car can win if handled properly.
Speaking of which, the handling is superb. It's unabashedly an arcade racer, with an emphasis on drifting and boosting to secure victory. Powerslides take a second to get used to, but you'll be tearing around bends Ridge Racer style in no time, and it feels wonderful. Drifting and drafting earn boost, and when you've earned enough to fill one segment of the meter, you can open the taps for a surge of speed. Controls are super straightforward, with a simple brake-to-drift mechanic meaning that heroic drifts are performed with just a squeeze of L2. If you want, you can swap to an interior camera view, though this does make it a little harder to judge all those powerslides.
The circuits are built to provide some wonderful sweeping slides, although perhaps are little on the easy side. There's not much to get in your way in any of the 16 tracks (32 if you count mirrored versions), so if you can get ahead, there's not much stopping you. There's some rubber banding at play, meaning your lead is never completely secure — especially on Expert — but the tracks themselves aren't going to give you much trouble. Having said that, the design of the environments is great; Ocean World has you driving through the middle of an aquarium, you'll drift through a casino in Casino Run, and Dino Dash is full of prehistoric reptiles and references to Jurassic Park. Add tons of visual flair like low-flying helicopters, stunt planes leaving smoke trails overhead, and animals on the sidelines, and the courses all have real identity.
You'll see all of them as you play through the Grand Prixs, but there's plenty of other modes too. Time Trial is self-explanatory, and you can choose a ghost from the leaderboard to challenge yourself, which is neat. Single Race lets you set up a custom race, able to change the track, difficulty, number of laps, and game mode. Arcade is your regular race, but you also have Cops & Robbers and Drive Or Explode. The former is an infection-style mode where cop cars bash into robbers to convert them into more cops. The latter is an elimination mode where you need to keep above an ever-increasing top speed, lest you activate the bomb on your car. These can all be played in local split-screen or online multiplayer, both of which work with no real issues.
However you decide to play, you'll slowly unlock a wide range of customisation options for characters and cars. They're purely cosmetic changes, but they give you something to work for, and there are dozens of challenges you'll need to beat in order to unlock everything.
Aside from one or two infrequent bugs with the menus, this is a very slick package — everything in here works brilliantly, and it all looks and sounds great. To be honest, our only real problem with the game is that there isn't more of it. Perhaps it'll be expanded upon after release, but at launch, it's a modestly sized offering that may not hold your attention for too long. Still, what's here is extremely solid. If you've been craving a proper arcade racer on PS4, don't sleep on this.
Hotshot Racing is an unapologetic return to arcade action, and it's brilliant fun. This game's charming retro aesthetic, sweeping powerslides, and glorious handling are a constant joy, and a perfect antithesis to the myriad simulators on PS4. Some might find the courses don't provide much of a challenge, and we'd gladly have taken a little more content, but you'll be hard pushed to find a better example of straight-up arcade racing this generation.
Project Cars 4.
Looks a bit like Ridge Racer, does it play similarly? 🤔
@Spoonman-2 Its very much in the style of those games and things like Daytona, I played the beta and it was very fun and definitely one for me to pick up
@Spoonman-2 Kinda! It's very drift-heavy, and you build up boost by drifting and drafting behind other cars. If you like Ridge Racer, you'll like this.
My kinda racer.
Sounds like a goer, thanks guys 🤠
Totally agree with Stephen's review — this game is fantastic. Been playing it for a couple of weeks now and it's so addictive. Feels great to play!
Anyone know the price?
Just get Project Cars 3 and have an Arcade racer with cars that look like... cars.
it is 2020, You can make arcade racing games that do not look like a Generic $2 iPhone game.
I read somewhere that is on game pass day one
If true i am sorted. played the beta was a great little racer simple but great
How much is this game.
@Wormold 👈 This guy REALLY likes GT Sport and feels that GT Sport is the bar all racing games must be measured against, regardless of style of racing.
Can I use my wheel?
@Agramonte Nah. These games are the best and actually fun compared to today's realistic looking brown and grey games. Sega Saturn/Ps1 days were the best.
This looks right up my passage.
@SirRealDeal I don’t think there’s wheel support, but I’ll check as I’m not totally sure.
@Quintumply Nice review. Very keen on this but curious how does it compare to Horizon Chase (if at all)? I loved Horizon Chase though I think you guys have slept on it a bit.
Wooaaahh remember when we had "Screamer"? No, I know you don't I'm being rhetorical - Google it. Then arcade racers got even MORE realistic year on year. Then I found myself thinking "but you know what's really missing from my line-up of enjoyable, modern arcade racers here is some blocky, lazy crap that someone knocked out in a fortnight to 'be, like, totally retro and stuff!'"
Looks like all my wishes have been granted. 🤗
Glad to see the return of the arcade racer. The sim people can have their sim racing and the arcade people can have their arcade racing and everyone is happy.
@hi_drnick Hmm, it's tough as they're similar in some ways but not in others. I'd say that Hotshot Racing feels more like Ridge Racer or even something like Burnout with its emphasis on drifting, and Horizon Chase obviously doesn't really play like that. I like both games but personally I prefer Hotshot. Odds are if you like one you'll like the other, though.
Yeah, I think I need this. Thanks for the review!
@InsertGoodName I do, was pretty damn good..
This reminds me of Virtua Racing on 32x which had the extra vehicle types. So looking forward to playing this, if it plays anywhere near as good as that, Screamer or Am2 arcade racers in general..
@SegaBlueSky With a username like that, you do!
Is this 2 or 4 players split screen?
@Bartig I tested with two but I believe it goes up to four.
@SegaBlueSky username checks out
I am so hyped for this game. I've been dying to play some Sega style arcade racing. Really hoping this game is a HUGE success and we can see a return to this style.
Sim Racers are just do boring.
@twenty90seven I'd be happy if they looked like they put any effort into it and didn't just chuck out a phone game.
@dellyrascal Instead of just being reminded of that why not just set up an EMU and enjoy that one again? I find this blocky, reverse engineered crap incredibly lazy. Not just in terms of looking like they missed the 1994 boat but also in terms of making something original.
@Quintumply that's very helpful. So Horizon is more 80s and Hotshots more 90s?
I went ahead and grabbed it as I'm sure I'll like it. Cheers!
@Quintumply by the way, any idea if it's playable with a wheel for that true arcade feel?
@hi_drnick That’s a much better way of putting it! As for wheels I don’t think so. You’ve reminded me to check, though, I’ll get back to you.
@InsertGoodName I definitely see your point and agree to an extent.
I don't mind this style personally, it's not something I would look for, infact I do find alot of the retro styling this gen, lazy and at times bordering on a strange retro cash grab, but at the same time I enjoy the likes of Stardew Valley and Curious Expedition which from a graphical point of view could be done on the Megadrive, yet play excellently.
If gameplay holds up, then that's all I want. But that comes from my own weary trudge thru AAA games that look nice and don't hold up gameplay wise..
We can have good gameplay and good aesthetics and we do expect it nowadays, rightly so. but if done the right way, retro styling still has a place I feel.. Then it just comes down to personal taste...
@hi_drnick @SirRealDeal From what I can tell there's no support for wheels right now. Maybe it'll come in a future update!
@Quintumply thanks for checking. Hope it gets added at some point as games like Outrun Online are really fun with a wheel.
Tap here to load 36 comments
Leave A Comment
Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...