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Motor Strike: Immortal Legends Review

Motor Strike: Immortal Legends offers a unique mashup of the racing and car combat genres. Though sometimes innovative, it lacks that all-important final coat of polish. The moment-to-moment gameplay is mostly enjoyable, but minor technical issues, unaware AI and an over-bearing unlock system, ultimately make Motor Strike: Immortal Legends an experience best left on the scrap heap.

Developed by FiveXGames and made in Unity, Motor Strike: Immortal Legends’ fast-paced, action-orientated car combat is without a doubt its strongest asset. Essentially it’s an extreme road rage simulator, wrapped up in a fun, frenetic, child-friendly package. That being said, the gameplay still never reaches greatness; held back by floaty vehicles and action that just isn’t that gratifying in the long run. Also, the less said about the game’s terrible name, the better.

Motor Strike‘s colourful, polygonal art style suits its not-too-serious nature. Although it’s by no means a technical marvel, I still noticed a couple of occasions where the framerate dipped significantly mid-race. There’s also mid-range, object pop-in noticeable from the get-go, which can be a little distracting but doesn’t really effect enjoyment of the game too much.

From the outside it looks like a run-of-the-mill car combat/racer. But under the hood, there’s actually a fair amount going on. Jumping straight into the game is a little overwhelming due to a couple of mechanics unique to Motor Strike.  Unfortunately, the game’s tutorials do a poor job of explaining these new mechanics. The tutorials are ugly in presentation and straight-up broken at one point. I fumbled through them and upon completion, still didn’t really understand several of the game’s core concepts.

One of these unique concepts is the Hook tool. At any time the player can launch a line to the centre of the track in front of them, which pulls the player back on course. When used strategically, this can actually help you maintain high speeds when cornering. It’s also an invaluable lifesaver when it comes to helping you stay on the track during those tight and twisty sections. It takes a bit of getting used to, but when used properly, it’s very beneficial and actually quite a cool and creative addition to the genre.

Another interesting tool is the strikeback mechanic. When activated, the player’s vehicle performs a 180° ollie of sorts, enabling you to target opponents approaching from behind. Whilst in this mode, the AI guides your vehicle around the track until you deactivate strikeback. A few times however, I found the AI would struggle, especially if I used strikeback while cornering, leading to some very frustrating crashes.

The game features three core modes: local single race, local cup races and online races. During my time reviewing Motor Strike, I tried four times in vain to connect to an online game but was unable to play as I was the only player populating the servers. Following the false start that was my attempt to play online, I played through the majority of the game in single player and also played a number of races in two player split screen co-op. The game definitely feels like it was designed around the multiplayer experience, just don’t expect to be able to play online. The ability to play with friends on your couch should add some longevity to the game but not enough to elevate it to the heights of recent multiplayer gems like Overcooked or Towerfall: Ascension.

Motor Strike: Immortal Legends certainly places greater emphasis on its combat mechanics than its somewhat original but underwhelming racing. Points are what matter here, not number of laps or time taken. Two teams of three players compete to reach the target score on each track. Points are earned by wiping out the opposing team’s vehicles, racing through checkpoints and destroying the AI-controlled “minions” and tanks. Each player’s score is added together to determine the winning team. The game doesn’t develop or change this system at all apart from altering the number of points needed to win. this damages the game as what enjoyable action there is, gets samey pretty quickly.

There’s a total of six main weapons to choose from.  None seem particularly inventive or overpowered compared to the others and they vary only in predictable ways; some offer high damage at a low fire rates, and vice versa. Each car also comes equipped with a handy lock-on missile launcher. Although it consumes a fair amount of energy, missiles cause a good amount of damage to enemy vehicles and can inexplicably clip through the environment. Countermeasures are available to deflect these miracle missiles.

Almost every action in the game costs energy. Whether firing a weapon, using nitro, the hook or strikeback, it all comes from the same energy pool, represented by a blue bar on the player’s HUD. Energy replenishes itself slowly over time, meaning that in the later stages of a race, you can find yourself running low on juice if you’re not conservative to start with.

The game features a good selection of tracks. 24 in total, spread across different locales ranging from arid deserts to galactic space stations. Though no single track particularly stands out, there is a decent amount of variety here in terms of track layout and design. Don’t expect any high-flying jumps or branching roads allowing for shortcuts though. All the tracks are  linear, again placing further emphasis on combat skill compared to racing prowess and knowledge of each individual track’s layout.

Each one of 14 playable vehicles is modeled after a recognisable automobile from pop-culture. From Breaking Bad‘s iconic RV to the aptly-named Desert Rider, AKA Mad Max‘s Magnum Opus. They handle reasonably differently and each has its own special ability unique to that vehicle. They add a little variety to the gameplay mix, but don’t do enough to make each stand out from the other. I did chuckle at some of their names though.

Weapons, playable cars, cup races and single races are all locked behind a single currency unlock system called Striker Emblems. The fact that the game locks off almost all its content seems counter-intuitive to its pick-up-and-play arcade-like design. Although Striker Emblems aren’t that hard to gather, there is a lot to unlock, meaning the game quickly turns into a long grind. Motor Strike doesn’t give enough interesting incentives to keep you wanting to grind and unlock every little detail. The entire unlock tree is laid out from the start – meaning you can  already see what the game has to offer, which is basically more of the same with small variations thrown in. There was no suspense in finding out what this distinctly mediocre game had to offer.

There’s a good game in Motor Strike: Immortal Legends somewhere. The problem is the enjoyable parts of the game – mainly being its combat, gets stifled by little variation and repetition. Whilst playing with friends is a fun distraction, it doesn’t make up for the other problems the game has.

Motor Strike: Immortal Legends is available on PS4.

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