VS. Racing 2 (sequel to VS. Racing 1. Yeah, I figured that out all on my own.) does call itself an “arcade racer”, but would be better classified as only a “racer”, since there are no power-ups, speed boosts, or spectacular collisions present. Instead the game just gives you a series of short tracks with a few AI competitors, a top-down camera, and a finish line.
It’s simple, but it quickly becomes too generic. The tracks are overtly small, meaning you’ll race through one in about half a minute, and the backgrounds (which are all tree/sand themed) are anything but original. Even the car options are limited to just three cars, each with only three stats to upgrade. Since you collect coins by winning races or doing simple tasks like drifting, you’ll max out your car in only a few minutes. Compacting all my time into one play through, I’d say I beat both “worlds” and maxed out two of the three cars in about an hour and a half. I saw no reason to play through again, since the replay motivators weren’t good enough to keep me engaged, the biggest one being a generic “get a three-star time”. It isn’t necessary, since you’ll keep unlocking new tracks as long as you run a decent race, which leaves the only other conceivable reason to go back: a series of crates hidden on various tracks. If you do decide to collect them, not only will you’ll have to forfeit the race you’re in, (since the crates are well off of the racetrack and by the time you get back on the road, your opponents will be lapping you) but your only reward is one of seven “secret” tracks. No thanks devs, I’m good.
The game is polished nice enough, but it’s nothing groundbreaking, and there were a few annoying bugs with the car physics that popped up now and then. Specifically, sometimes a car would shoot ahead after being ground into a rail, or other cars would jerk out of near collisions. They were never game-breakers, but they still shouldn’t exist.
And the controls. Since the game opts for the “top-down” camera, you would think that the controls would be the fore-focus, and thus, really solid. But in execution, the controls end up being a huge flaw in the overall game design. The default “steering wheel” at the bottom right of the screen is the most reliable out of all the other options, “reliable” meaning the car actually goes where you turn the wheel. The problem is: it takes up too much space. It’s not a 50% of the screen giant, but you will very, very often find yourself covering up your car/the other cars behind you. The other options (tilt controls or a “left and right buttons” based one) don’t work either, because you need the precision only offered by the “wheel” to keep from slamming into walls.
So after you finish racing through the single player campaign, you’ll probably want to hop over to multiplayer…but that mode blows all its tires right at the start (car puns!). The multiplayer would be called “basic” in another genre, but having no option to race other people online is unacceptable in a modern racing game. Now, the game does allow you to make a ghost of your time for your friends to race against, but you can only send the ghost time over iMessages or email, which is about as unintuitive as you can get. The only option to actually race with other people is if they are on your Local Wi-fi (or Bluetooth), but that hinges on other people not only owning the game, but actually being in your house. Nobody around me is into racing games, so I never got to actually race against other people. Being honest though, how many people are ever going to get together under one roof and play this game?
Overall, my biggest complaint with VS. Racing 2 is that it’s just too basic. There are really no “multiplayer” modes (I know you’re not going to corral your friends together just to play this) and the car selections and worlds are just boring. The game is simply unremarkable and completely skippable.