Reckless Racing reinvents the Super Off-Road experience for the iPhone generation.
Have you ever found yourself in a vintage arcade, pumping quarter after quarter into Super Off-Road while simultaneously cursing about how much better of a game it would be if they had acquired the Smokey and the Bandit license? Me neither, but the developers at Pixelbite must have. How else can you explain their outstanding new top-down racer with a healthy dose of southern charm?
Like the aforementioned Super Off-Road, Reckless Racing is a top down racing game that’s all about slipping and sliding around corners in the dirt. Players will slam their thumbs on the gas and try to outrun all of their hillbilly competition to take home that first place pride.
Hillbilly competition isn’t a phrase I had planned on uttering during my lifetime, but outdated southern stereotypes are displayed in just about every facet of this game. Characters have names like Cletus, Otis, and Lurlene. Tracks like Bubba’s Yard look like abandoned set pieces from Dukes of Hazzard. Even the soundtrack isn’t afraid to feature a banjo or two. There’s no question about it – Reckless Racing puts the dirt back in dirt racing.
Despite the somewhat clichéd depiction of southerners, the gameplay here is an absolute blast. Vehicles control incredibly well, despite constantly losing their footing thanks to the dirt tracks they’re racing on. A variety of steering options, from on screen arrows and steering wheels to tilt controls, are available for players to choose from. With the exception of tilt, which didn’t seem to make turns as sharply as we’d intended, we found that each option was both unique and enjoyable in their own special way. (Despite this, we ended up sticking with the default on-screen arrows for our play through.)
The tracks are well designed too, offering tight turns, lush scenery, and changing road surfaces – but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. Some areas that seem like they’d make for stellar shortcuts – like a cliff overlooking the next stretch of track just before you come up to a turn – inexplicably end with the same results as driving into a lake. Your car will disappear for a moment, and then respawn back on the track.
And while we liked the track designs, we would have also liked to see more of them. With only five tracks available (ten if you count racing them in reverse) it takes about 15 minutes to see every inch of game Reckless Racing has to offer.
Despite the small number of tracks, Reckless Racing ends up being a fairly big package. In addition to the standard races, players have a number of modes at their disposal. Hot Lap, for example, is your standard time trial mode – and it’s more appealing (and challenging) than most thanks to the short nature of each tracks. Delivery mode, on the other hand, offers up a Crazy Taxi style challenge. Players are tasked to pick up items from one location and deliver them to another to earn cash. The longer you take, the less cash you’ll earn. While these modes are an absolute blast, there’s one mode that trumps them all: online multiplayer.
Squaring off against human competition is what a good racing game is all about. With particularly paltry AI competition in Reckless Racing‘s single player races, you can really appreciate how challenging these courses are once you hop into the online arena. With players trading paint left and right, forcing competitors into the mud or down to the bottom of the lake, the online play here offers the sort of crazy edge-of-your-seat gameplay that we’d been hoping for all along.
On the technical end the online isn’t quite perfect, but it’s definitely better than most. A little lag might cause one of your competitor’s vehicles to stutter around the course a bit, but beyond that there’s little to complain about. It would have been great to see AI take over for a player that quits early – especially when the host quits, thereby closing the race – but with no disconnections and a smooth ride on the player’s end, our online experience was pretty much rock solid.
And while the game looks and plays outstandingly on both devices, there’s simply no denying that Reckless Racing feels more at home on the iPad. Due to both the small size of the vehicles and the detail in the landscape, everything comes across feeling much more lifelike on the bigger display. Beyond the improved appearance, the iPad has a few puzzling advantages over its iPhone counterpart as well, like the ability to change the color of your car, or the inclusion of three additional tracks (six with reverse) that are arguably the best the game has to offer.
Regardless of which device you’re able to pick Reckless Racing up on, you’d better believe this one is worth a purchase – especially if you’re the type of gamer that fondly looks back on arcade classics like Super Sprint and Super Off-Road. With some breakneck online multiplayer, great track design, and gorgeous presentation, Reckless Racing is dirt racing fun from the word go.