Bang Bang Racing doesn’t want to be just another isometric racer.
It’s design leans heavily toward that of classic arcade racing, uninterested the cartoony power ups and lightweight vehicles so pervasive in the genre, focusing its energy into crafting a very physical racing sensation even at the cost of neglecting everything else in the game.
And it definitely shows. Bang Bang Racing’s core racing experience is tight and fast, with cars that carry a deliberate weight as you spin around corners, and aggressive AI that holds tight to the line between challenging and unfair. The sense of speed feels amazing as you slam down on the boost and try not to wreck and your newfound velocity, something that’s difficult to land when you’re viewing the game from the viewpoint of a trailing helicopter. It’s some of the most engaging racing I’ve ever had in an isometric racer, but it’s also the first and last thing Bang Bang Racing ever excels at.
Though there’s a clear struggle during races as everyone fights for first, often spinning themselves out in the process, once you leave a race progression becomes hard to track. You unlock tracks and cars in a linear order, but it doesn’t feel like you’re ever advancing. Races come and go and I never got the impression I was driving better cars or racing smarter opponents from the first race to the last. The only difference between the four cups (which branch out into individual races) is the type of car you drive, but again there’s little to differentiate them by. Muscle cars felt the same as formula one cars, and as each cup uses small variations on the same courses I never had to adjust my racing style for any small subtleties the different vehicles might provide.
Track designs are universally solid, but you can only go so long on a dozen or so tracks before they start to feel tired. I appreciated the small ways Bang Bang Racing changes things up between races, be it switching race modes or opening and closing short cuts, and it was never much of an issue that I was still essentially doing the same races over and over. But I imagine that’s in large part do to the career mode lasting in the range of 2-3 hours, which works at keeping the sense of repetition at bay, but also meant I was done with the game rather quickly and found little excuse to replay races over again.
Most bothersome is a camera that can’t keep up with you. Bang Bang Racing has two options for this, one being a fixed camera typically from the side of the track, and a dynamic camera that stays at the isometric angle but turns to follow the direction of your car. Both are extremely problematic, the former because it makes it difficult to drive in a straight line or see where you’re going, and the latter for all of that and the added effect of being nauseatingly mushy. It pans slowly and clumsily, often leaving you staring in the wrong direction you need to drive and sliding around so much that I often started to feel ill and had to stop for fear of vomiting over my monitor. It tends to be more usable than the fixed camera, but at the added cost of motion sickness which may or may not affect you (for reference, I almost never experience it).
Yet for all Bang Bang Racing’s problems I kept coming back for the immensely fun and satisfying base racing experience. That I was willing to endure physical discomfort to play it should say how much I enjoyed it, and it makes it difficult to recommend for or against the game in any large capacity. I can only hope developer Digital Reality gets another crack at it and can fix the problems present here, because they’ve got a great foundation to work with packaged together in a miserable shell.