Micro Machines V4 Hands-On

We meet with Codemasters and get our first look at the previously unannounced sequel to Micro Machines V3.

Currently scheduled for release toward the end of June, Micro Machines V4 is an action-packed racing game inspired by the diminutive Hasbro toys of the same name. Coming to the PC, the PlayStation 2, the PlayStation Portable, and the Nintendo DS, the latest game in the long-running Micro Machines series promises to improve upon its predecessors not only by taking advantage of each platform's multiplayer capabilities, but also by offering more vehicles, circuits, and weapons than ever before. We had an opportunity to check out an early PS2 version of the game during a recent meeting with Codemasters, and we're pleased to report that we had a whole lot of fun doing so.

Developer Supersonic Software is purportedly devoting a lot of time to making sure that Micro Machines V4 is as much fun to play solo as it is with friends. We didn't get to check out any single-player content on this occasion, though, and instead we chose to pit our skills against those of a Codemasters representative on several different circuits and at the controls of several different vehicles.

Micro Machines V4 will feature a total of--wait for it--750 vehicles for you to unlock and collect, many of which you'll only be able to get your hands on by beating other players in pink-slip races. Some of those 750 vehicles will be different only in color, of course, but the game's 25 different vehicle classes will certainly offer no shortage of variety. The full list of classes, for those of you who are interested in such things, is as follows: muscle, gas guzzler, desert racer, veteran, city, pick-up, rally, hot hatch, luxury, classic, off-road, lowrider, historic saloon, concept, stock car, hot rod, vintage racer, custom, race, cruiser, GT racer, street racer, sports, utility, and dragster. So, to answer the question that should be popping into your head about now if you're a fan of the series, no, it doesn't look like boats or hovercraft will be in the game this time around. All of the five or six different vehicles that we took the controls of on this occasion handled in much the same way, but given the fast and furious style of gameplay that the Micro Machines series is known for, the fact that a bus handles in much the same way as a sports car is hardly a cause for concern. These vehicles are only about an inch long, after all.

The miniscule size of the vehicles in Micro Machines games has always given developers the perfect excuse to turn everyday locations and objects into race circuits that are as challenging as they are charming. Micro Machines V4 will continue this trend, but will also kick it up a notch by making the environments far more interactive than they've been in any of the series' previous installments. When racing around a pool table, for example, we had to watch out for moving cues and balls, and hazards in the chicken coop locale included hens pecking at feed and eggs rolling along a conveyor belt. Micro Machines V4 will feature a total of 50 circuits spread across 25 different environments, and you'll be able to design your own course layouts on three of those environments.

You'll be racing around a seemingly endless array of exotic locales, like this kitchen.
If there's one thing that the Micro Machines series is known for, other than the diminutive racers and the crazy environments, it's the insane weapon pickups that litter the tracks. Missiles, machines guns, a giant hammer, and dice bombs were the most common during our session, but the arsenal of 25 weapons total will also include flamethrowers, oil slicks, peashooters, hair driers, and all kinds of Wacky Races-style goodness. Simply pushing other opponents off the track whenever possible was also a very popular tactic. Although, it's worth noting that the first player to get ejected from a race has the option to throw bombs down onto the track as the remaining racers battle it out, until only one racer remains. When that happens, the victor is awarded a point, everybody respawns, and the chaos resumes.

We really enjoyed our time with Micro Machines V4 on this occasion, and we can't wait to get our hands on some near-finished versions of the game. Features that we didn't get to check out on this occasion included online play, Micro Machines V3-style camera angles, old-school top-down racing, and some kind of PSP-to-PS2 connectivity. We'll bring you more information on Micro Machines V4 as soon as it becomes available.

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