This Post Will Be Updated Daily Until Monday As I Play More Games To Be Featured Here!
The Steam Next Fest is currently taking place until Monday, October 10th, and much like the Racing Fest, it's a celebration of upcoming indie games with hundreds of playable demos. As I simply cannot cover every single demo, the games that I found to be enjoyable yet not large enough for a separate post I'll routinely update here. Because of this, you'll see this as one of the pinned posts on the site. Without further ado, we begin with the premise of an upcoming "Racing MMO," Maximum Velocity
Maximum Velocity Demo
What intrigued me about this title was the premise of a "Street Racing MMO," a combination that I rarely see nowadays if at all. In the 2000s, games like Drift City, Project Torque, and Need For Speed World were some of the genre's front-runners, with several including World of Speed continuing to this day. Over the course of the years, many have long since deactivated only to revive via the help of the fans thanks to private servers and the like. It's rare to see an indie "Racing MMO" as the foundation to get one started requires a lot of work. Maximum Velocity is the newest game to tread ground in this year's Steam Next Fest.
While Racing MMOs sound great on paper, usually it becomes a victim of the "MMO Grind" where you must have players progress or suffer a fate of grinding to reach the next goal. Games that would have been perfect under a fleshed-out single-player experience have seen dire fates by inheriting an MMO package. Not saying that Racing MMOs are bad, but take Forza Horizon for example. That's a modern example of a "Racing MMO" that has allowed players the chance to race with bots. You don't have to race online if you don't want to, but online "enhance" the experience.
With that said, there's not much to do in the demo which is expected for a game slated for a November 2023 release. You have access to one car, three tracks, and a portion of a map to explore. The sense of speed is certainly there, as well as arcade physics. Cars enter a powerslide as they turn but it's easy to maintain a drift. Maximum Velocity's camera sweeps with a dramatic angle to maintain the sense of speed. What's unique is that the nitrous system heats up the engine to the point of the car exploding if left for too long.
There are several things going for it although it takes a while for the game to run smoothly as it loads the environment. My only fear is that, like most Racing MMOs, it will require a player base that may or may not stick around. With some racing gaming influencers and content creators, that can be a non-issue. Regardless, I wish the best for the development process of Maximum Velocity. The demo can be played here and the game can be wishlisted here.
Multipass! MiLE HiGH TAXi
Here's a game that has a lot of potential to be great, yet in its current state, it's too ambitious for its own good. MiLE HiGH TAXi is a combination of the movie The Fifth Element and Crazy Taxi, the iconic Sega arcade game released in the late 1990s. Crazy Taxi was a series that was simple in its premise, yet was addicting to play and hard to master. The premise is to pick up passengers within a time limit while making enough money to ensure a high ranking by the end of the session.
The game takes many cues from the Sega classic in many ways, including its meta-based charm and its difficulty settings. There are three different routes that are color-coded from "short and easy" to "long and rewarding." How this connects to the movie The Fifth Element is the inclusion of anti-gravity cars and high-rises well in the sky as far as the eye can see. At the beginning of the movie, Korben Dallas, the protagonist, was a cab driver in a similar futuristic version of "New York," something MiLE HiGH TAXi takes great inspiration from.
Its city is full of life, the characters and pedestrians are animated with personality, and the dialogue is humorous. Taking the time to stop and look at the billboards, there are many references to the movie and the game, as well as some references to other "neo-futurism" titles. The "Cyberfunk 1977" billboard was rather humorous. Unfortunately, where it matters the most falls on its head. I spent more time trying to get used to how the car drives than I was able to fully enjoy myself.
The sense of speed that comes with zipping through buildings, bridges, and tight alleys is halted by an AI that constantly drones out that I'm "reaching dangerous altitude." I was left wondering what the issue was and every time I pitched my car low, my car stalled. Pitching it higher yielded the same effect. The mini-map is also as confusing as it acts more like a radar than a conventional map.
All I saw were dots coming out of the map and no sense of where "Madison at Floor 610" was. Perhaps it was a skill issue, but the good news is that the foundation for a great futuristic "Crazy Taxi" game is there. I just hope the glaring issues with car control and map presentation are addressed.
Those who are curious to try MiLE HiGH TAXi for themselves and see if they can do a better job than I did can try the demo as well as wishlist it here.