What we liked:

+ Simple, yet deep
+ Lots of bang for your buck
+ Anyone can pick it up and have fun

What we didn't like:

- Only one car to choose
- Need your friends playing it to promote competition

DEVELOPER: Milkstone Studios   |   PUBLISHER: Milkstone Studios   |   RELEASE: 02/26/2010

Get your motor runnin’.

The Xbox Live indie game market has been increasing steadily since its inception, and with numerous titles on the market, I would hate for a fun little time waster to get lost in the shuffle. MotorHEAT is an indie game from the group Milkstone Studios, whose other titles include Wool and Little Racers. This game is fun if you have ten or fifteen minutes to kill, and could provide some real enjoyment if your friends jump on as well. It is a simple concept, but executed very well and I commend Milkstone for making this fun, fast paced racer.

The goal is simple, achieve the highest score and become one the best racers in the world. You play against the clock, and when the timer reaches zero, the race is over. There is no accelerator button, and all you have to do is steer through traffic. You earn points by near-missing cars, and the closer you are, the most points you net. You gain levels by driving a certain distance down the highway, and as you drive, your cars abilities such as speed and handling, improve. Also, you can boost to increase your multiplier to create a higher score. However, if you get too close and crash into another car, ten seconds get taken off your timer. All of these aspects mesh together really well, and it is the kind of game that drives you to want to play just one more race. You want to keep trying to boost your score, and seeing how far you can actually get.

This is a pretty complete package for only three dollars. You can customize the look of your car, but there is only one type of car to choose from. This is probably one aspect of the game that I think could have used improving. I wish they would have more cars to choose from; each with different handling and attributes, but it really doesn’t take away that much from the game. However, there are twenty levels you can gain, and there are also even “rewards” to earn, which is this games version of achievements. So it won’t count towards your gamer score, but there is certainly the accomplishment factor built into this game as well. There are some pretty ridiculous rewards, such as accumulating one billion points over your career, or passing 53,594 cars, which is still a running inside joke from Dead Rising. Those two in particular will take you a very long time, and the reward aspect really drives you to continue to play the game, and really get something out of it.

A negative aspect of this game is that there are not a lot of people on the ranked leader boards. When I submitted my scores to the online leader boards, I saw that there are a little over one thousand ranked worldwide. Competition among your friends online would really drive this game to make it something special, with everyone striving to be better than the rest. You could come home one day, to see that your friend has beaten you score, and have to work to reclaim your crown. That would give this game the legs it needs and deserves.

The game looks pretty good, with varying backdrops as you race along the highway. The car models look good, and there is even varying weather that affects the way your car handles. The sound is good too, with your car sounding like it has some real power behind it, and the driving music gets you pumped up and into the race. The presentation is very well done, and is very high for a game at this low of a price point, so I commend them for that.

Overall, I really like MotorHEAT. It is a really enjoyable game that I feel any fan of racing games can pick up and play. It is such a simple concept, and yet it is still very deep. Milkstone Studios have put a lot of time into this game, and made is something that I feel stands out from the competition of the indie market. They made a game that is exactly what an indie game needs to be: pick up and play, have some bang for your buck, and most of all be fun to play. These guys really can make a good indie game, and for only three dollars, get ready for the race of your life.

Review copy provided by publisher.

Jeff is a full-time student and has a disorder where he constantly trades in all his games to buy new ones, and then buys the older ones back. We are looking into getting him his own padded room.

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