Tiny Trax Review (PSVR)
Epic racing in a tiny world!
Childhood imagination comes to life as tiny racers boost around your body, jump overhead and drift around bends inches from your face!
FuturLab’s first foray into virtual reality is a twist on a simple premise -- slot car racing… in VR.
Tiny Tracks, like FuturLab’s past games, is very easy to pick up and play -- understanding the main game mechanics isn’t an issue. You accelerate your car around a track; you have a boost to use and you get more of it by drifting the corners of the track with precision. You can switch between the two lanes of the track to get in the lane closest to the corner to take it faster. Simple, right? But it’s the mastering of the mechanics that will take your time and practice, and this simple looking, cute racer, can actually be quite a kick in the teeth.
The 12 tracks you’ll race around are all quite beautiful to look at and the variation of worlds make playing through the three tournaments a lot of fun. You’ll start on a sunny beach, move through a frosty snowfield, drift around a molten lava pit and then race around a futuristic city. You can look around the tracks, of course, and I’d encourage it. The view over the slot-car racing track allows you to lean in to look at your tiny car, peer through the loop de loop in front of you, or even put your head under the ocean. The levels have great design and Tiny Tracks does look like a cute racer, but that’s where the deception lies.
A couple days into the game's release, FuturLab released a patch (1.01) to make the AI a lot easier in the first cup. However, the difficulty and the super-powered AI opponents remain my biggest issues with the game. Especially in the last tournament, the AI feels like it’s playing on god mode and you basically need to perfect the race to finish first. It’s not a matter of perfecting the race for a PSN trophy, or for beating a developer time -- you're perfecting the track to even stand a chance of finishing the game. It can become frustrating and the limited amount of content in Tiny Trax makes the difficulty spike out of the first couple races very noticeable.
There are 12 tracks outside of an online mode, in which I annoyingly could never find anyone to race against. This made me wonder why a split-screen mode with couch partners doesn't exist, competing while watching the TV as one player races in VR.
FuturLab has done great work with its first VR title. Tiny Trax shows impressive depth of field at times and looking around the circuits is a lot of fun. The one track where cars end up driving underwater had me ducking my head in and out to race around with them, simply because it was fun (yet nauseating). You can play Tiny Trax seated on your couch if you want, but I found standing was the best method, even if it isn’t as relaxing as sitting. Playing upright, I found my view of the tracks improved significantly and made my racing better. Even the simple ability to rotate my body a little bit to look around as I was racing improved the experience. Plus, standing up just seems like the way the game is meant to be played, as you peer over the track in front of you and lean into and through the surrounding objects.
Like previous FuturLab games, there is a rhythm to mastering Tiny Trax. Drifting each corner perfectly to maintain your boost, switching lanes to the inside to take corners fast -- it feels good when you pull it off. It took me some perseverance to even get to that stage, and after two or three hours I probably felt like I had an understanding of the game. Unfortunately, mastering the precision and rhythmic nature of perfect glides around these tracks isn’t going to be for everyone, and I can see the difficulty turning off some people.
The fantastic music paired with a great colour scheme and visuals really creates an odd juxtaposition. Futurlab, however, has crafted a really interesting game out of such a simple premise, and as their first step into VR, I really think they could do something quite special one day. Velocity3R, maybe?
(Tiny Tracks code provided by the developer for review)