Mad Tracks is a title that is guaranteed to play with your emotions. Five minutes into the title you'll be quite pleased, thinking that the game is an undiscovered gem that is bound to keep you amused for hours. Twenty five minutes later you will have finished the game you paid good money for. Finally, after another fifteen minutes you'll have given up on the stupid filler achievements and moved onto another title, cursing the fact you paid 800 Microsoft points for such a basic package.
Right, let's rewind, getting this angry so quickly into a review probably isn't good for one's health. Mad Tracks originally debuted on the PC late last year. In Mad Tracks you take control of a mini RC car. Your vehicles are controlled by a spring, so you'll need to ensure you don't accelerate for too long or you'll slow down. Essentially you'll need to accelerate for a little, then purposely slow down so you can then speed towards the finish line. The main problem with forcing gamers to race like this (aside from the fact it's completely illogical and extremely frustrating) is that it means the game has no real sense of speed. Just when you feel like you're driving along at an acceptable speed you'll need to slow down. It makes no sense at all and is one of the first frustrations you'll encounter with Mad Tracks. As with any cutesy racing game there are also powerups to slow down or attack your opponents. In total about half of the challenges you'll encounter are races, the other half are mini games. The mini games are rather well thought out and there are a few that will become personal favourites.
Mad Tracks isn't just a poor title because of a lack of sense of speed but because the game on the whole feels like an unfinished package. The game only features a few modes. The adventure mode features fifteen events which are a combination of races and mini games. The arcade mode simply allows you to replay any of the events in any way you like. That is essentially all there is to Mad Tracks. Just when maybe you may possibly be starting to have fun the game ends, prompting you to purchase additional content packs (at 350 Microsoft points a pop no less) to continue playing. If you're paying 800 points it's not unjustified to expect that the game would feel so light. In fact, with one content pack already out and one coming next month if you want the "full" Mad Tracks experience this could turn out to be a rather expensive investment.
As if Load Inc. realised that Mad Tracks was so short, they added in some achievements which are sure to frustrate. The obligatory achievements like requiring the player to gather medals and set record times are included but the one which seems like a complete filler activity is the Chain racing achievement. Let's recap the numbers again for those of you playing at home. Mad Tracks features fifteen events, to unlock the Chain racing achievement (which is worth a measly 15 points) you'll need to finish the final event twenty times in a row. There is no skill required in this and if someone has the patience to play through the same race twenty times they certainly deserve more than 15 points.
In fact, the only real saving grace for this title is the multiplayer. Both players are on even footings in multiplayer and with the single player campaign over before an episode of Neighbours is finished you'll want to try out the multiplayer in Mad Tracks. It can be occasionally entertaining. You're able to play through any of the objectives from the single player mode in multiplayer and up to four players can play online.
Mad Tracks is a title that is extremely light on features. With only fifteen different events the title should have been priced at 400 points. Finishing a game in just thirty minutes is not rewarding, it's frustrating. Even ignoring the terrible value the game presents, Mad Tracks is a tired racing game that lacks a real sense of speed and just feels like a certain game we played a decade ago, with Micro Machines that were a lot more enjoyable.