Released: May 2018
To place the word “Ultimate” in your title means you must be very sure you are going to be good at what you do, otherwise you are a meme in waiting. “Ultimate Racing 2D” is the latest in a very long line of top-down racers – a genre of gaming I love to bits – but also one that is very, very saturated. Does this one stand out as a top tier racer? It’s close…
The game itself goes with over 30 vehicle types, 45 tracks split into 4 track types and 20 cars on track per race. There are recreations of many well-known circuits and I appreciate the level of detail to make something cartoon-like but instantly recognisable. The game may look like it’s an arcade racer but the whole physics model is based on increased tyre wear leaving your car in an understeer skid. The longer you stay out, the slower the turn in and the more you’ll skid on corner turn in and exit. It doesn’t always feel like you are going slower but then as soon as you pit for fresh rubber, you’ll be turning around hairpins without much thought. As such, it’s not in any way a sim, but there’s much more to the driving than just accelerating away. If you’ve played GeneRally, New Star GP or MiniRacersOnline, you’ll be at home here.
There is no damage model in Ultimate Racing 2D, which initially made me quite disappointed. However, having played this game alongside the damage heavy New Star GP, this game is by far more enjoyable because there is no damage model. The AI, whilst competent, will happily barge you out the way, and contact will slow you down to a crawl. Quite frankly, that is penalty enough as it can hurt your progress. Races can be as long or as short as you like but tyre wear and fuel are huge factors. The biggest complaint I have about the game is that usually after 3 or 4 laps, you have to pit for both and so any kind of strategic value to managing tyres, or saving fuel, is utterly pointless. Sometimes in a 10 lap race, you may decide to pit twice or three times but that is literally it for strategy.
Ultimate Racing 2D will let you take up to 20 players online for a race. My limited experience of this is that it’s lag free and works quite nicely and you could use an out of programme tool to run championships with fellow players easily. Qualifying is included as a one-lap shootout and you can choose to overlap everyone to you can learn from other peoples lines. All the team names, driver names and colours of the teams are customisable too which fantastic, although strangely in career mode you aren’t playing as yourself – you play as whoever you’ve just bought for that season. Career mode itself is interesting as it will let you drive dirt bikes, stock cars, limos and so on right up to the formula cars. Terrain and cars do handle slightly differently throughout and there’s a lovely nod to some historic cars and the Nordschleife – in 2D glory. The cars and bikes aren’t too dramatically different though and that’s a good and a bad thing. Bad, for it lacks variety, but good because it means you can blast the go-karts, trucks or ice cream vans around any circuit you like!
- Plenty of cars and tracks.
- Not just a point and squirt – you do have to drive well at times.
- Customisation options.
- Online multiplayer is solid and could lead to niche leagues.
- No options to scale tyre wear or fuel consumption means strategy is non-existent.
- Odd career mode structure.
- No track editor.
Whilst it isn’t quite the ultimate experience that the title professes to be, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with Ultimate Racing 2D and I think fans of the genre will absolutely lap this one up. See you on the race track (and let me know if you’d like an online league!).
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A copy of the game was provided by the developer for review.