Micro Machines 2 hearkens back to a kinder, gentler era of electronic entertainment. With simple controls and intense gameplay, it offers a fast, fun, and addictive experience reminiscent of the best video games of the late 1980's.
This is a pure racing game, where up to four miniature vehicles careen around high-speed tracks. The off-beat courses are set in familiar but exotic locations, from a kitchen countertop to a pool table to a toilet seat. Each track is laced with predictable hazardsjumps, oil slicks, and hairpin turnsin addition to more unusual obstacles, ranging from forks and drillbits to slices of carrot and pieces of toast.
You can start playing Micro Machines the moment you boot it up. There are only three controls that matter (turn left, turn right, and accelerate), and using them is completely intuitive. But learning the controls and mastering them are two different things; it takes many hours of practice to perfect the bumping and sliding techniques necessary for victory, and longer still to discover the subtle intricacies of Micro Machines 2's dozens of tracks.
But discover them you will, as Micro Machines 2 is thoroughly addictive. Races are short, intense affairs, made more so by the dirty tricks squad otherwise known as the computer-controlled cars. These little guys are downright nastyone bursts out to an insurmountable lead, while the other two nitpick you to death; a bump here, a nudge there, and next thing you know you're falling off a corn-on-the-cob bridge into oblivion.
The action gets more intense when you put a human opponent or two on the track, although it would be even better if Micro Machines 2 included network support rather than forcing multiple players to crowd around a single machine. (In my book, three pairs of hands on a keyboard is two too many.)
While the gameplay is excellent, other aspects of Micro Machines 2 are less inspiring. The graphics are clean and sharp, but totally lack the wow factor of cutting-edge competitors. The CD-audio background music is rockin' but repetitive, and the spot sound effects are too subdued to be noticeable. The addition of a track construction set is nice, but really, with over 100 prefab courses included on the disc, who needs it?
Still, in today's world of bloated productions and derivative design, titles that can stand on the strength of their gameplay alone are something of a rare commodity. Micro Machines 2 is that kind of game, and for that reason alone, it deserves a look from action racing fans.