Maxmium Car Review - Over the Top But Not Enough

This ode to Burnout unfortunately runs out of fresh content quickly.

Maximum Car Review 1
Screenshot of Android racing game Maximum Car. Tea and Cheese
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If you never played the Burnout series of racing games, Maximum Car (styled MAXIMUM CAR by developers I Fight Bears of FIST OF AWESOME fame with Tea & Cheese who made 8-Bit Waterslide) is a good substitute. In particular, it was Burnout 3: Takedown that helped the series grow massively in popularity. I recall spending countless hours on Burnout Legends for PSP, with the later Burnout Dominator also seeing a lot of time in my PSP.

The games are fun because they encourage dangerous driving to build up boosts, and to take down opponent cars while racing through hazardous environments.

The series has fallen quite dormant after Criterion Games got involved with the Need for Speed series and other EA projects. I had kind of forgotten about it myself. Then I picked up Maxmium Car, and was taken back instantly. The game shamelessly steals what's great about Burnout, but ironically, it does burn out quite quickly.

The heart of Maximum Car has you racing through courses, though the controls here have been massively simplified. You accelerate automatically, and just need to tap-and-hold on either side of the screen to turn in that direction. Holding one direction and tapping the other will start a drift move that will get you additional turbo boosts and fill your missiles, which can be used for takedowns. Other dangerous maneuvers such as driving in the oncoming traffic lane and getting near-misses as you drive near cars.

Your turbo boost will last for a short while, but you can keep it going by doing more takedowns and dangerous driving maneuvers. But how do you take down racers? Well, you can either bump into them, possibly even side-swiping them, but the main method is to shoot your missile with generous auto-aim at other vehicles.

Basically, Maximum Car has you trying to create as much carnage as possible to knock out other vehicles (temporarily) and make it to the finish line in first place.

And oh, is it a frenzy. There's always so much going on, as you have random cars to pass up along with the myriad racers you face down as well. Races are always quick and exciting affairs, and because each one only lasts for a limited time, you can easily pick up and play Maximum Car for a race or two and get an exhilarating time out of it. The way that the developers have distilled and simplified this action-racing experience down into a mobile-friendly experience is exceptional. The game's cel-shaded look is exceptional, too, combining a blocky look with cel-shading, dark outlines, and visual effects to spruce the whole experience up. The sound and music add to the ridiculousness, with an all-too-appropriate heavy metal music theme pumping through the whole game. The announcer's lines are over-the-top ridiculous, as is everything else in the game, but they quickly grow annoying and repetitive. Of course, there's just an irony there that could be propelling things as well.

The core gameplay of Maximum Car is rather fun, there's no doubting that at all.

But two different issues come into play with the game. One is that the game has 5 tracks, basically – and even from level to level, the differentiators are tough if not impossible to tell apart, if any. Each track has a different theme, and different objectives, but the 20 levels on one track have the same theme and objectives. All you're doing is just racing and racing to differently-themed levels. And theme is the key difference, not any major track elements per theme. So the game is just 100 missions of progressively more difficult sameyness. And even then, the difficulty curve upward is not that great.

I unlocked a car of decent quality fairly early on in the game, and what happened is that once I unlocked the entire game, I wound up trying the final mission, and was able to get 1st place if I did well.

Maximum Car is free-to-play, and the big purchase point is the energy system. You get tokens for playing levels which recharge over time, but you can buy out of the token system for US$4.99, or $5.99 to get unlimited tokens and unlock all levels. This makes it effectively freemium. Otherwise, there's an endless level to play, but takedowns won't count toward unlocking cars as they do in the main levels. You also earn coins that can be bought via in-app purchases to buy new cars that you unlock by taking them down in races so many times. The cars aren't that expensive once unlocked, and you can pay a piddling sum to maximize their stats. The unlimited tokens are worth it, but unlocking the entire game isn't really recommended as it dramatically shortens the functional lifespan of Maxmium Car.

Ironically, Maximum Car isn't doing the maximum that it could be to capitalize on its concept. With a game that features more variety and a difficulty curve that encourages players to max out their cars, it could dramatically improve the total experience of Maximum Car. It's definitely worth checking out, but it falls short of the promise it holds when you first play it. But oh does it burn bright early on.

Maximum Car is available as a free download on Google Play.