STAFF REVIEW of Meow Motors (Xbox One)


Wednesday, September 11, 2019.
by Brent Roberts

Meow Motors Box art Racing games are quite honestly one of my biggest addictions in life. I love the ability to race vehicles I'll probably never see, let alone drive, but outside of the realistic racing games, I LOVE games that put the arcade combat racing on the forefront, much like what we see in games like Mario Kart. In fact, recently a game came out that seems to take a LOT of cues from that very game, but does so with a feline twist. Time to start those cars and get those motors purring because ArtVostok has released Meow Motors for the price of $14.99, and if you're telling me I can get a Mario Kart experience with cats for under $15 bucks, then I could be looking at the game of the year for me here. Time to get this review into gear right meow.

When you start Meow Motors, you'll see a rather barren menu system that consists of Continue, New Game, Quick Race, Options and Quit. This is where you'll enter your career under New Game, as Quick Race is a mode that just lets you do local co-op racing only (I'll touch on that here in a moment) on various tracks. Meow, your career mode will be comprised of three different modes: Race, Strike and Drift.


As your career begins, you'll come face to face with your nemesis in a sort of comic scene layout as your villain in black (think a Darth Vader-like cat) comes through and crashes your car, gets out, taunts you mercilessly and then jumps back into their car and drives away to victory. Your character watches teary-eyed as all the other racers speed past, which lights a fire within your character, and you're now off to the races as you work to form a team of cat racers to go after this main villain. The premise of the story is one that doesn't fail, but what really stand out are the racers themselves.

All different species of kitties, each one of them provide some benefit to you such as being immune to oil slicks on the road, a damaged car automatically repairs itself or more power for jumps and collisions. There's an achievement for racing with each character but you'll want to tailor your driver to match the race you'll be driving. For example, if you're doing a race mode, it'll be in your best interest to pick a racer that has an immunity to an oil slick. What this ultimately means though is that even though you have many different racers, you have only 3 types of races, so you'll only have the need to race with 3 of them. This red flag sadly is just the tip of the iceberg.

Meow Motors has a very simple control scheme. Your Right Trigger is your gas, Left Trigger is your brake, 'B' button is your handbrake, 'X' is for boost, 'Y' button is for your oil slick and 'A' button is used to fire your weapon. As you drive along, you can throw your car into a drift fairly easily, and the more you drift, the more your special meter fills up. This meter will allow you to either use your boost or your oil slick. So you essentially have one tank to draw from and you decide how you want to use it, as it's pretty self-explanatory (boost makes you go faster, oil slick causes them to crash behind you). Drifting charges it up, so go sideways as much as you can and you'll always have something in the tank.


As you progress through the story, based off the number of stars you gain, you'll automatically unlock various cars, drivers and weapons at multiple milestones. To say that this game is pun crazy is an understatement. Instead of a Lambo you get a Leo, instead of Ferrari you get Purrari, and so on. The tracks are done in a very light-hearted way with a cartoonish feel to the layout and design. They provide instances of jumps and "secret" pathways that you can explore for shortcuts, but each track also offers obstacles that can naturally hinder your path and slow you down.

Earlier you heard me touch on weapons, and they are your lifeblood on the track. They range from your basic machine gun, to a great white shark missile launcher, to a freeze ray, dome shield, land mine and so much more. Thankfully since you'll be sliding around the track at high speeds, the targeting system auto targets for you, so every weapon will automatically target your nearest opponent. This is a blessing when you're trying to avoid obstacles while you're drifting, yet want to blast your opponent with a great white shark. Each weapon though does have a limited range, so if you're fast enough with your boost, there's a good chance you can outrun them, however, you will practically need a full boost to do it, and not... hit... anything. If you hit anything, your speed drops and the weapon has you.

This is a great feature to have, despite one tiny flaw, which is the AI rubber bands like crazy to keep up with you. One race, I had a full boost and buried my paws into the gas pedal. My tail hit the boost button and I launched. I was flying along the course and drifting (which kept my meter building after each completed drift) every chance I could, and I pick up a Nitro power up and use that as well, which adds even more speed, and then I look back and magically the whole pack is somehow just a couple seconds behind me and charging up fast. Huh? This is a bit annoying because you can race flawlessly and still be under fire from weapons from behind. What really rubs salt in this wound is that the ONLY weapon you know that will be coming for you is the great white shark missile. Everything else will be a total surprise because the game doesn't tell you anything.


There is though one gargantuan problem that almost immediately made me turn the game off completely. No online multiplayer. Excuse me? In today's world when you have lesser racing games that are worse to play, released with online connectivity, it's kind of a shame. But with Meow Motors, it feels like a knife in the back that totally blindsided every ounce of joy out of this game. It's by far the biggest failure of potential ever. In fact, had this had online multiplayer I would have struggled to give it less than a 90% because the quality is good, but if you can only enjoy it in your own home and not with friends elsewhere online, then what's the point? Oh, sure you can have people over and do local co-op, but this is a textbook example of a colossal failure to capitalize on quality and enjoyment. I'm not sorry I said that because it's true.

In today's interconnected world, everyone wants to play with other people. Look at the most popular games now that are out there and what is one of the most common threads they all share? ONLINE MULTIPLAYER. Why, in the name of everything that is holy, would you release an amazing kart game and NOT provide it? I can say this, I'll play through, get the achievements and then I'll be deleting this game from my hard drive, because if I can't play with my friends around the country and the world, then why would I pay $14.99 for a game that should be the cat's meow, but instead, Meow Motors puts the "CAT" in catastrophe.


Suggestions:
Unless you can somehow come out with online connectivity, this is basically a $14.99 waste of time. You broke my heart over this game.


Overall: 7.0 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10

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