When reviewing the game last October, I honestly didn’t think a top down racing game would have me so torn. “Mantis Burn Racing isn’t the most exciting racing game you’ll ever play” I said in reference to the game’s minimalistic presentation, however once I waded through the slow loading times and uncharismatic menus, I found a rather fun arcade racing game with terrific handling and gorgeous visuals. Upon the announcements of not one, but 2 big DLC releases (with one of them costing absolutely nothing), I had rather high hopes for the game’s expansion, especially considering that the actual racing element was pretty spot on; let’s just see if it takes my mind off the game’s bland exterior. In this article, I will be looking into Mantis Burn Racing’s first paid expansion, costing a mere £1.99, entitled the ‘Elite Class’ pack.
To give you a quick recap, Mantis Burn Racing is a top down, arcade racing game from British studio VooFoo Studios, a band of guys and girls responsible for such table top classics as Pure Chess, Pure Pool and, you guessed it, Pure Hold’em. As well as featuring a fairly decent roster of tracks through cities, caves and sewer pipes, Mantis Burn Racing also features a pretty extensive career mode and garage full of cars to tackle it in. It may not be as action packed or bedazzling as other arcade racers such as Micro Machines, but what it lacks in presentation is more than made up for in its slick and highly satisfying handling and stunning graphics. In my original article, I awarded it a 5 (which upon reflection and revisiting it was perhaps a tad harsh), hence my eagerness to see how the game has been developed since release and how its players have been rewarded during that time. The ‘Elite Class’ pack has been released alongside another update for the game, the free and superb Snowbound expansion which I can honestly say has improved the game tenfold, so how does this paid DLC stack up? Can Mantis Burn Racing make it 2 for 2?
The Elite Class pack is intended for, well elites, those amongst you who fancy even more of a challenge that can’t be sought from simply one new track, but rather every track. After parting with your £1.99 you will unlock the new elite class hovercrafts, beasts on the track that have swapped out wheels for powerful turbines to give you a speedy advantage, or a terribly difficult challenge. In similar fashion to other classes of vehicles on hand, the elite class is again split into weights, with the Harpy posing as the lightest of the 3, the Griffin classing itself as the medium all-rounder, and the Manticore, a sort of hovering campervan serving as the heavier option. You could be forgiven for questioning exactly how much variety these new vehicles add to the game, especially considering you’re paying for them, but these hovercrafts are truly for the elite and you’ll find this out for yourself from the first corner. It was Uncle Ben you said “With great power, comes great responsibility”, and though that was in reference to his grandson becoming a superhero, the same can be said when driving a hovercraft, just swap out the word ‘power’ with ‘speed’ and ‘responsibility’ with ‘difficulty when tackling any bloody corner’. To reiterate, yes, these vehicles are the fastest in the game, however unless you can really handle the speed they’re completely useless to you, so only once you feel you’ve truly mastered every vehicle already and you know each track like the back of your hand, should you step into the levitating driver’s seat. The Elite class vehicles will effortlessly smash all of your previous track times and will no doubt reward you with that gold medal you were previously struggling to achieve, but they’re not for the faint hearted or crap driver. If you’ve obliterated every track in your way, including the newly added Season’s 2 & 3 of the Veteran challenges, then only the Elite career stands in your way, and along with the new vehicles now 12 new devilish races are waiting for your attention. At first I was a little disheartened to only have unlocked 12 new events, considering I got 34 for free in the Snowbound update, but honestly, I would have hated to have been given more because these are really difficult, really really difficult. As diabolical as they are, it’s still great to know that VooFoo can still make each track even more challenging, even if it’s one you’ve played through dozens of times before, to know that thought is still being poured into this game is commendable.
It may seem substantially smaller in size compared to the Snowbound patch that was released alongside it, but for only a couple of quid you’re expanding your Mantis Burn Racing experience with new horribly difficult tracks to pursue in 3 new vehicles that now directly affect every track in the game. Each of these new vehicles is unique in handling and ferocity, giving each track you thought you knew inside out an extra level of difficulty that you’ve foolishly bestowed upon yourself for gits and shiggles. Aside from the Elite class vehicles, the new stand-alone elite career will really take your game to the next level, giving you a good enough reason to continue playing, even if it is to get your arse handed to you. It may only cost you two quid, but the elite class doesn’t really appeal to everyone, as you’ve got to be a patient and skilful player to really enjoy the content, unlike the free Snowbound update that is for the more casual fan, so in direct comparison it sadly feels pretty inferior; perhaps this should have been the ‘free’ update. With that being said, for the persistent glory hunter and avid fan, the Elite Class pack is an essential purchase if you want to be considered a Mantis Burn champion, however for the more casual, impatient driver such as myself, there’s already a lot on offer without having to spend another penny, how much gold you want to win is totally up to you.