Music Racer Review: A Really Nice Screensaver

by David Sanchez February 24, 2020 @ 2:06 pm

Reviewed on PlayStation 4

Sometimes you’ll see a game that looks like it’ll be your jam. Maybe the aesthetics catch your attention, or you see a gameplay trailer and say to yourself, “Oh yeah, that looks pretty cool.” I thought I was going to get a kick out of Music Racer. The game seemed exactly like the type of thing I’d love jumping into. Unfortunately, the shallow, repetitive gameplay made it a big disappointment, and I’m bummed there’s not much there in terms of substance.

A Music Driving Game and Not Much Else

The biggest problem with Music Racer is that it’s too true to its name, almost to a fault. Heck, this isn’t so much a racer as it is a driving game with music that plays in the background. And even that’s a bit of a stretch, because you don’t actually do much driving but rather steer your vehicle left and right to change lanes and collect musical beat items on the tracks.

There are 14 levels in Music Racer, most of which are unlocked with points you get along the way by clearing stages. The levels aren’t locked behind ridiculous point barriers, so it shouldn’t take you long to access everything the game has to offer. Stages range from Tron-like tracks with crazy hills and twists to more straightforward beach cities with tight turns. All the levels’ themes are pretty cool, and it’s fun to see the different designs.

There are multiple settings to play around with. You can toggle the screen shake when you collect items and select to have the camera directly behind your car or more panned out.

There are three difficulty settings in Music Racer. Normal is pretty challenging and places pillars that will screw up your flow if you crash into them. Hard mode adds more beat items and more pillars. There’s also a one-hit kill mechanic in place, so if you touch one of those pillars, you’re done. Zen mode removes all obstacles and leaves you only to collect beat items. Last, Cinematic mode removes all gameplay and lets you watch your pre-selected vehicle drive through the stages.

The lack of depth in the mechanics makes playing Music Racer a bore. It’s just not fun moving your car between lanes to collect beats. The game tries to add some incentives by throwing in unlockable vehicles, but it’s not even entertaining trying to get the necessary points to do that.

At Least It Looks and Sounds Nice

The gameplay of Music Racer is pretty bad, but the game is still an audiovisual treat. Depending on your eyes’ sensitivity, you may need to make a few adjustments, but overall, the game is a visual trip and just looks really, really good. Even if you’re not into the music, you could totally leave the levels playing in cinematic mode on your TV if you’ve got a retro or techno theme going at your next party.

The electronic themes, of which there a lot of, range from modern pop-sounding tunes to more retro, ’80s-style synthwave. Depending on how much you enjoy this style of music, you’ll find varying degrees of enjoyment in the soundtrack, which features artists such as Tobu.

Unfortunately, the PlayStation 4 version of Music Racer lacks the option to let you play your own library of music, so the mileage you’ll get from this edition of the game sees even more of a dip. It’s a shame, too, because even with the gameplay being as weak as it is, there’s a charm to being able to play to the beat of your favorite band or artist’s music.

There’s likely an audience for Music Racer, but that audience is better off playing a version of the game that allows for custom music. Unfortunately, the weak gameplay and near-nonexistent mechanics make this rhythm-based driving game more of a really pretty screensaver than an actual game.

Score: 4 out of 10

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