Originally a 2006 PC game, Load Inc.’s racer Mad Tracks is one of the newest additions to the Xbox Live Arcade. Relying upon power-ups and flat-out racing small cars around in a big world, Mad Tracks attempts to capture the same magic as games like RC Pro-Am, Re-Volt, and Choro-Q/Penny Racers, yet it really doesn’t do so.
The premise of Mad Tracks is pretty simple: driving a small, electric-powered car, you race against rivals or the clock in an attempt to finish first and win medals. However, your car only has so much of a charge in it before it runs out, meaning you’ll need to let off the gas from time to time in order to keep from draining your ride. The controls are pretty simple and will be familiar for anyone who’s played a racing game on the Xbox 360.
The tracks themselves often have big jumps, crazy loops, or other unique features that will keep your attention, but there just doesn’t seem to be enough variety among them. Alongside racing on tracks, Mad Tracks has several venues that aren’t tracks at all, including a foosball table, a “dart board,” and a pool table. At these venues, you’ll be competing in various challenges to win medals, such as knocking pool balls into the pockets to get points or using your car to knock the foosball into your opponents’ goals. These non-track venues are actually incredibly fun to play at and are probably the best reason to consider buying the game.
The game isn’t going to stun you visually and some of the levels actually feel kind of barren. I know it’s only an Xbox Live Arcade game, but you can still make it look good and not just make it a direct port from the PC. The sound effects in the game itself are all right, but the music really isn’t too much to care about, since the sound of your own car will partially drown it out.
Unlocking the first few achievements are pretty simple, as they either require a certain number of medals, reaching a certain point in the game, or playing the same one-lap level over and over again. However, some of Mad Tracks’ later achievements are not easy to get by any stretch of the imagination and will require knowledge of the level’s layout as well as perhaps some skill and luck.
The biggest problem with Mad Tracks, though, is that it’s short. A grand total of 15 events are there to choose from, and several of them aren’t even full tracks. There also very few selections when it comes to different cars, but future downloadable content will hopefully solve these issues. Still, the non-racing levels, namely the pool table and foosball table, offer a fun time in multiplayer mode
So, is Mad Tracks worth the 800 points ($10) to get it off the Xbox Live Marketplace? It will really depend on how much you like racing games and perhaps if you’re willing to sink some more money into the game later for the extra downloadable content. While there’s certainly some things absolutely worth getting Mad Tracks for, there isn’t quite enough there yet to make it one of the top titles on the Xbox Live Arcade.
If you’re looking for a cartoony, fun racer for a few good thrills, Mad Tracks is the way to go. If you’re looking for a complete racing experience, though, you might be better off putting your $10 towards the purchase of Forza Motorsport 2.
Mad Tracks is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB for Alcohol and Tobacco Reference, Comic Mischief, and Mild Suggestive Themes. This game can also be found on: PC.