The games careless upgrade system and abhorrent AI leads to a flat, unsatisfying experience thats not even worth the budget asking price.
Monochrome Racing is built around a delightful concept. The idea of four brightly coloured vehicles competing in a monochrome universe tempted us. And with Micro Machines head-to-head elimination multiplayer mode clearly high on Nordcurrents inspiration list, we went into Monochrome Racing with a reasonable degree of anticipation. Unfortunately shoddy AI and poor design left us feeling cold.
The game opens promisingly enough. Its minimalistic visual style is complimented by a range of options from the off-set, allowing you to create a profile (with which to track your progress), and select from a garage full of vehicles. The cars themselves are complimented by some decent art, ranging from dragsters to trucks, each of which can be kitted out with a variety of upgrades.
Bizarrely, the upgrade system is rendered useless by Nordcurrents inability to effectively communicate the purpose of each upgrade. Each component is complimented by a price and nothing else, giving zero indication of the upgrades implication on your cars performance, and rendering the entire tuning system essentially pointless.
There is a roster of over 80-tracks in Monochrome Racing, but youll only see the first corner of many of them. Like Micro Machines (and the more recent PSN title TNT Racers), your aim in each race is to lead the pack and push your opponents off-screen. While this is a fun mechanic in the afore-mentioned games, it only serves to highlight Monochrome Racings AI inefficiencies. Opponents will frequently swing into the track barriers at the first opportunity, failing to recover and leaving you to win each race with ease. On the rare occasion that youll lose a race, youll find yourself cursing the AI once more, as opponents regularly career into the side of your vehicle and leave you glued to the wall while other racers drive away with the prize.
In the two-hours or so it took us to complete Monochrome Racing, we failed to see a full lap in its entirety. In many ways this was a blessing in disguise, because Monochrome Racings handling model is not particularly enjoyable either. Cars are riddled with over-steer, offering the impression that each race takes place on ice rather than tarmac. It just doesnt feel as refined or as tight as wed hoped some amount of over-steer is welcome, but theres just far too much in Monochrome Racing.
Because each race is so short, the power-ups that litter each track have little implication on the action either. There are bombs and speed boosts that you can hit, as well as colour slicks which stop your vibrant vehicle from being drained of its shade, but youll find little purpose for these when your opponents often decide to drive the wrong way after pulling a 180-degree spin on the first corner.
Monochrome Racing's sporadic races wouldnt be so bad if the game didnt take forever to load up the next track, but as it happens youll spend yourself waiting on loading screens longer than you will competing.
With no time-trial mode (which would have been welcome) and a lack of multiplayer, theres very little to enjoy about Monochrome Racing. The games colour mechanic could have led to some interesting and unique isometric racing, but the shoddy AI and unrefined handling system make this game difficult to enjoy. Its a missed opportunity for sure.