I love a good racing game, but preferably those that want you to go as fast as you can and not worry about smashing around the track a bit as opposed to those that demand perfection from the player across a realistic simulation. Trailblazers offers just that, with its intense high-speed racing offering plenty of chaotic fun as you zoom your way to victory. It also has a unique hook in that there’s a big dependence on blasting the track with paint too, which makes the whole experience all the more interesting.
Trailblazers’ racing isn’t just about hitting the chequered flag in as high a position as possible, but about working as a team and taking control of the track. How do you do this? By splashing it with your team’s paint to set up speed boosts. Your vehicle is able to splash the track with paint, leaving a trail of colour that when driven on by yourself or a team mate, sends you speeding up the track. On the flipside, drive on your opponent’s paint and you’ll see yourself slugging behind with a slower speed. Don’t worry though: you can always claim their turf as your own with a quick blast of paint…
It’s a neat idea and one that works really well in-game. You’re never just worrying about speeding ahead or hitting a corner perfectly, but also about making a mark on the track and giving yourself the advantage by having some well-positioned boosts. Alternatively, you can also use your paint to wipe out opponents with a sneaky attack, which is always handy when trying to steal that ‘first place’ towards the dying seconds of a race. However you approach it, the paint does something different and it complements the high-octane racing of the game.
Interestingly, some races won’t just be determined by your position on the track – you earn points for the likes of painting, boosting, or attacking opponents, so nearly every action you perform can see you earn victory for your team. It adds a unique twist to the game, though I’ll admit that sometimes it was just fun to have a simple ‘first place wins’ setup.
The meat of Trailblazers’ single player experience is found in its story mode, which is spread over twenty chapters of varying goals. There are multiple characters to play as in the game and you’ll come across them all during the story and find out what their advantages are, be it better dispersal of paint, a better speed, or better handling. I’m a big fan of a story mode in a racer after playing the likes of Diddy Kong Racing and Crash Team Racing, so I was a fan of its presence here – don’t get me wrong, saying the narrative is engaging would be a massive stretch, but I enjoyed it a lot and it brought an extra sense of purpose to the racing and the game world too.
Not interested in the story? Don’t worry, you can also set up custom races across multiple game modes including team races, partner racers, and time trials just to name a few.
Outside of the single player story mode and races, you can also partake in multiplayer showdowns both locally and online. Local play allows you to play with up to three others in split-screen action, which made for some pretty epic showdowns with friends. Sure, the action could be a little bit too hectic to share across just one screen at times, but it didn’t make it any less fun – at least it’s something you don’t have to worry about when taking part in an online race.
With Trailblazers’ emphasis on teamwork and setting up racing lines with paint, I found myself looking forward to playing the game with others as a co-ordinated team. It’s not often that a racer has such a focus on teamwork and working together, but it’s something that’s cleverly implemented here. At times it’s more of a co-op title than a competitive one, which is something I can appreciate given that it changes up the genre a fair bit.
Whilst I’m a fan of Trailblazers’ gameplay, there were a few issues that cropped up too. For one, the frame rate can be pretty sketchy at times. Now thankfully this isn’t a constant issue, but there were plenty of occasions where the racing would turn sluggish and the game would seemingly struggle to keep up with the action. It took away the sense of pace from a race and just felt a little frustrating, especially since everything would flow together sharply for the most part.
There are some questionable physics in place too, with some crashes with other racers often completely wiping you both out to the point of no return. This wouldn’t really be a problem since that’s the risk of racing anyway, but this occurred during minor collisions too – something that often can’t be helped thanks to the outrageous antics of the AI drivers. Add to that a few software crashes that saw me having to completely restart the game, and it’s clear that Trailblazers would’ve probably benefitted from a bit more polish before releasing.
At least it’s a fantastic looking game though, with all of its tracks not only full of colour but also creatively designed to show off this unique (and slightly bizarre) world. The tracks themselves are full of twists, turns and small alternate routes to take, and they all lend themselves well to the fast-paced racing of the game – the fact that they’re eye candy is just a bonus.
I went into Trailblazers with cautious optimism, but thankfully it delivered exactly what I’d hoped for – an exciting arcade racer that feels great to play. The whole ‘paint boosting’ thing never feels gimmicky, the tracks look great, whilst the driving itself is intense and made for some epic showdowns with both the AI and friends.
It definitely has its flaws with the sometimes sketchy framerate being the main offender, but in all I had a great time with Trailblazers and can easily see myself returning to it for showdowns with friends for some time.
Publisher: Rising Star Games
Release Date: Out Now (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Mac, Linux) June 2018 (Nintendo Switch)
Platform(s): PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC, Mac, Linux, Nintendo Switch