Audiosurf has long been a mainstay in my gaming collection and it has inspired so many other games to follow suit. Enter Music Racer, which has been out on PC for a while but now made its way to PS4 and XBO. Whilst the game comes with an all singing and dancing aesthetic – the console version specifically feels like a downgrade from the PC version.
The premise of Music Racer is simple. You pick a vehicle, an environment and a song. Then you auto drive through lasers to the rhythm of the song. Try to catch as many lasers as possible for the highest score and avoid hitting the pillars which reset your combo meter. You’ll be steering left and right to switch lanes so you can collect what you need and avoid what you don’t. As a baseline premise, Music Racer works really well.
When a song increases its drum tempo, the vehicle speeds up. Often the track twists and turns too which means if you are speeding along at a mighty pace, you’ll be relying on your reflexes. This is when Music Racer works an absolute treat. The PC version allows you load in your own mp3 music collection too and this makes the game infinitely more enjoyable. I’m a sucker for games that let you do that and whilst it doesn’t quite hit the heights of Audiosurf or Rhythm Zone, it does an admirable job. The environments really do switch up how the game feels with its 80’s retrowave vibes or future neon lights. I found that I enjoyed the game best with the furthest away camera setting too and turning off all the graphical bloom. Then I could see what was coming better! There is a VR mode too which feels immersive but was quite intense when you speed along.
Sadly though, the console version has two issues. The first is that you are limited to the 20-ish tracks provided by the game itself. There is no ability to play custom music. This heavily impacts the longevity and enjoyment of the game. The tracks prepackaged are fine – and a couple of them are dance floor belters – but they aren’t your own. That wouldn’t be an issue if the PC version didn’t let you do this – it just feels like a lesser product as a result. The game doesn’t have big leaderboards to score chase either so once you’ve used your points to unlock all the vehicles and environments, you’ve seen everything and have little reason to return.
The second issue is more annoying – there appears to be some weird collision detection issues that means if you hit 6 or 7 lasers in quick succession, its as if the game falls behind and then misses the last one of the bunch or the first one of the next lane. If the game isn’t falling behind then its a mismatch of what you visually see vs what the game is processing. It happens at least once a song and since you can only chase your own high score – that is frustrating.
Outside of the main modes, which has two difficulties (neither of which were massively challenging) there is also a zen mode which autoplays the game like a screensaver. As you don’t earn any points for it though, unless you want a synthwave car demoing on your screen – its a limited resource. You also have the ability to change the colour of your vehicle.
PS4 version tested. Review copy provided by the publisher.