It isn’t often that you find a gem in the Simulation & Sports genre of Game Maker, but in this case it appears that ZoltÃ¡n “silentworks” PÃ©rcsich has released a true diamond in the rough, that should receive more attention then it has been getting.
Magnetico is a 3D racing game based in the future, where you take a seat in a flying vehicle and compete against AI components on tracks wrapped around a city skyline.
This isn’t the first time someone has created a 3D racer; the developer of this game isn’t new to the game style either, having previously proved his ability by releasing his critically acclaimed “Park Racer Reloaded” game which was featured on YoyoGames. Unfortunately the success of the previous game may be the downfall of Magnetico. There are keen expectations for this title to be noticeably better than the other racing games previously programmed by ZoltÃ¡n. But does Magnetico live up to such ideals? Perhaps not entirely.
The first impression you get is a sense of refinement when launching the game. Unlike many 3d games often released, Magnetico doesn’t skip on interface quality nor fall short when it comes to the polished touches that make the main menu, while simple, feel like that of a professional game. You might even forget you are on your PC for a moment, briefly believing you are holding a Nintendo 64 controller. Navigating the menu requires use of the arrow keys of your keyboard and the space bar. You’ll soon realize the whole game literally relies on just those 5 keys, a very intentional and considered design feature that takes out any confusion and fuss that most racing games usually dump on you. Nobody likes having to fiddle around, figuring out an over-configured control scheme while trying to win a race, so its a very refreshing feeling to naturally understand the keyboard map from the beginning.
When starting a race you get the classic 3D rotating car preview along with a few specifications of the vehicle you are selecting. If you haven’t played before you’ll be required to purchase one, using XP and cash (you are provided with some by default to buy your first racing vehicle). The range of cars to choose from is rather respectable and its just one of the techniques to keep players engaged and motivated to race; XP and cash can be earned by competing in races.
When you begin racing, you get the classic count down often associated with racing games and then you engage in driving. The whole novelty of being in a flying car isn’t reflected in the game play. A transparent “computerized” grid road is directly below you. If you were expecting to control the vehicle like a plane and have to fly through hoops, you’ll be disappointed. Any element of being in the air is taken away by the grid. It feels more like highway racing.
Driving the vehicle is an adequate experience. The handling is nice and smooth. To compare it to the developers previous game “Park Racer” the vehicles are much easier to control, but totally un-dynamic in movement. Turning corners feels a little slow which can be extra frustrating if you apply nitro, one of the three collectables available in the game. The other tokens include bonus coins for the money system and a red triangle that causes damage. Even trying to avoid or collect those can sometimes be a slightly awkward ordeal.
All the other vehicles around you don’t collide, so there is no way of crashing. Innovatively, they go transparent if you get up close, to avoid model overlapping and preventing your view being blocked. This means apart from the damage token, there is little to avoid hitting other than the race track boundaries which will slow you down when you collide with them and cause a static interruption across the screen. The effect itself is well executed, but in my opinion a failure of the game’s design. When it appears it takes you out of the game, and out of the race, reminding you that you are sitting at a computer. Its like watching a movie and suddenly seeing the boom operator; you are instantly less engaged and reminded that you are in a cinema.
The overall graphics of the game are good, but not great. For a 3D GM game it is definitely a nice job, but its not graphically stunning and even the vehicles themselves use models that won’t blow you away. This isn’t to say its a bad effort, but graphically in comparison to ZoltÃ¡n’s older racing games it feels like two steps forward and one step backwards.
The range of maps and cities is good. There are three cities which each have varied tracks to play on, getting more and more difficult as you unlock them. The design of each city is nice too. Extra racing tracks can be unlocked as you increase your XP score. The range of content overall is good, and like any racing game has a natural replay ability.
A final aspect worth mentioning is the audio. The sound effects are okay, but its the music that demands the praise. The audio tracks are smooth and relaxing but have a futuristic feel about them. They work perfectly as backdrop audio, making the game feel more polished but not acting as a distraction.
Magnetico is a well rounded 3D racer which is fun to play. The futuristic theme wares off quickly and doesn’t add to the game play, and perhaps graphically its not as advance as ZoltÃ¡n’s other racing titles, but for any racing fan its an addictive and quality GM game that certainly squashes most other competition. If you are a fan of ZoltÃ¡n’s work, as the end user you can’t expect something explosively advance from his previous efforts, but you can rely on him delivering a solid and consistent game that is definitely worth trying. A clean score of seven out of ten does this game justice.