Racing games come in all shapes and forms, from extreme simulators to absolute arcade madness blazing around at Mach speeds requiring twitchy reaction times to keep the car on the track. Code Racer ditches the old convention and spices it up by creating a new formula where players are put in a turn-based command-driven game with its physics that adds a lot of depth for a game that might look simple on the surface. Essentially, players are given input commands such as forward, backward, turns, etc., and can fine-tune their timing interval according to how the track is laid out.
At the first trial, it seemed boring or unconventional and my human nature was biased against it, but the game’s unique physics and its nuances put me through a lot of phases of trial and error which resulted in satisfaction when a level was completed. The game can have a polarizing effect on people who just want an extreme casual play experience. Even though the game does offer that, it does force out a necessary dedication required to figure out the game mechanics required to beat the tracks in the fastest way possible.
Players can choose a car (in the first stages only one car is unlocked for play) and play through linear-progression-styled track missions which unlock after the previous one has been beaten successfully. There are no ‘controls’ so to speak for the car, instead, players have the option for adding commands to their vehicle to run a simulation. Timing intervals for how much power and for how long can be adjusted to make the player experience feel personal and rewarding for successful completion. As the player unlocks more tracks and collects more stars by beating the track in certain ways to fulfill the criteria, they unlock better cars to keep the progression going.
Things can get quite complicated for even the simpler tracks like these! Unless you’re a Pro
Instantly recognizable is the unique command-driven input system for a game genre like this which does work surprisingly well for how simple the game might look on first experiences. Gameplay balance is set at moderate where the first tracks are very short to get the player used to how the game plays out, but then progresses onto more difficult tracks with twists and turns and some of them even featuring getaways from the cops!
Apart from the nuances of the game physics, the true challenge comes from the criteria required to be fulfilled to get all the stars from a given track. Some of them limit the number of commands the player can use to finish the track while others place an objective time to reach to get that extra star. Stars are important as they are the main progression tool to unlock more races and tracks which go up in difficulty. These tracks in turn unlock better cars to help you keep up with the pace of the game as it goes on.
The controls of the game, in this case, the command line system, are very intuitive and are not as daunting as the name makes it sound. One tap of the button opens the interface which allows you to choose from 6 types of commands with the length of that variable at the bottom. At the center is the choice for the power of the command which will dictate how much force is applied to that specific command.
Daily Challenges also exist in this game which offers bonus rewards and other prizes upon the successful completion of them before they are renewed with new challenges at the end of the day. This helps keep the game fresh along with massive updates like the recently launched cops & robbers pack (did not personally test that expansion).
Graphics and Audio:
Expecting graphics from mobile games meant to be simple yet nuanced is like barking up the wrong tree. The graphics are not wonderful, but they are not unpleasant to look at either and certainly get an easy pass as it makes up for it in the control and fine-tuning area of the controls. The developers took the right stance by focusing on the core quality of the gameplay over the number of polygons on this one and it shows in how well the game physics performs. What this does mean is that as it goes with F2P games, the cost-cutting had to come from somewhere, and on this game, it was the graphics. I do not mind a game’s graphics as long as they are passable but supplemented with an amazing gameplay experience, which this game does well.
Regarding the audio, it is the age-old trick in the book for games like these where the same soundboard file has been looped in 3 or 4 different ways to give a disguised immersion for five minutes. Again, if the focus is on graphics and audio for a game like this, then this is the wrong game for you as the developers have focused on the content and physics engine of the game.
Head-on battles against players are available and a pseudo-social platform does exist where people can compare their times and commands with their friends or others on a leaderboard presented. The requirement of 9 or so stars first to unlock the feature is both a good and bad thing. The good being that the game forces the player to be accustomed to its unique style of play by making him play the single-player missions first before progressing onto the multiplayer. The bad part being many players these days are thrilled when finding out multiplayer support on a game that can be played with or against friends, only to find out it is being locked out until a certain threshold is met. The multiplayer feature works pretty well, but not as good as the smoothness and overall integration of the single-player campaign.
9 Stars required to unlock Multiplayer
The make-or-break deal for many players when it comes to F2P games, how pay-to-win is the game? Thankfully, this game does not have a shred of MTX being able to give a competitive advantage over someone grinding without paying for packs. The map packs do offer more content although it can be unlocked by regular players in a reasonable amount of time through normal play through as well. The other MTX options are all cosmetic or minor aesthetics that do not influence gameplay. Ads can get quite annoying though and the only way to completely get rid of them is to purchase the game which evokes a mixed feeling from me. Companies needing to earn revenues against the player’s immersion experience of the game, both are important.
Pros and Cons:
- Unique Game Idea with the Command SystemUnique and Intricate Game Physics
- The app runs exceptionally smooth even on dated phones
- Not a battery hogger
- Has a learning curve that yields more satisfaction
- Satisfactory multiplayer support
- MTX is not Intrusive
- The audio could do with some improvements
- The learning curve might put off the casual player base
- Ads can get obnoxious which are only bypassed after at least one transaction on the game
Code Racer is a fantastic game that offers a unique approach to the conventional racing or time trial genre by giving the player absolute full control of their car shaken up with its game engine and physics which work remarkably well and add to the fun and depth of the learning curve of the game. Overall a solid choice for both, to pass the time as well as to grind the game to get better at it.