Anki have contacted us to let us know that a new range of vehicles will be arriving for Anki Overdrive in the near future in the form of Robotic Supertrucks. Armed with powerful weaponry and bringing a whole new game mode called Takeover with them, this expansion will add further depth to our favourite racing game.
We’ll have a review as soon as we can but in the mean time enjoy the official trailer before our review of the main set.
and now back to our review.
Anki Overdrive is an exciting proposition, the convergence of traditional model racing and modern smartphone technology into a single package, but is it enough to drag the Scalextric market into the 21st century? Lets have a look.
What is Anki Overdrive?
Anki Overdrive is a racing system on a similar scale to the Scalextric slot car racing game, but the similarities stop there, here you are dealing with smart cars equipped with AI, smartphone control systems car, upgrades and weaponry.
What’s in the Anki Overdrive Starter Set box?
When you oven the box you’ll find enough track to build 8 different tracks, 2 cars and a 4 car charging set, there are of course no controllers as you’ll be using your smartphone or tablet to control the cars.
One of the first things you’ll notice is that the tracks don’t actually have any slots, which means that each car isn’t limited to staying in a particular lane and they can freely move across the track.
Rather than drawing power from the track, each car is has a rechargeable battery on board, so you need to keep battery management in mind but you get 20 mins play from about 10 mins charge, so game time can remain manageable.
The styling of the cars and track is futuristic, and the quality of the track is great, although I do sometimes look at the cars and wish that they were just a little less toy like, perhaps Anki could release some premium models in the future?
Controlling the vehicles is more involved than in the traditional slot racing games where you usually only control speed and there is no separate controller all interaction is performed through an App. The Overdrive App on the iPhone is free, simple to use and allows you to change lane on the track by twisting the phone left or right or alter the speed of your car or fire weapons via on screen touch controls. This does however mean that you need a smart phone or tablet for each racer.
Rather than being identical each car in the race has it’s own set of attributes, with differing weapon types\strengths, speeds and armour values, so each car races differently and may require a different strategy to race with.
The Anki Overdrive app adds an extra key element not normally found in traditional racing games – sound. Through the app you can hear engines roar, race indicators and even banter from AI characters, at times it all sounds rather magical.
Creating the Anki OverDrive Tracks
The Anki Overdrive track system is easy to fit together, long gone are the days of having to force metal pins into place to secure the tack in place, instead each track has small magnets in the ends allowing for quick, easy and secure snap together.
As it’s key that the system knows the track configuration, before the start of each race the cars perform a quick scan of the track so that system knows the layout you have created, this means that the cars can safely navigate the track without flying off. Watching the cars automatically work their way around the track is a wow moment and feels very majestic.
Different track set-ups alter the tactics that you’ll need to follow, a twisty tack makes targeting a vehicle difficult, long straight tracks adds extra speed and short round tracks adds an extra importance on weapons.
So if the cars can handle the track, why do you need to slow down on Anki OverDrive?
Good Question, in Scalextric slowing down around corners was a key part of the game, if you didn’t slow down then you would often fly off the track, in Overdrive this hardly ever happens.
The control of speed in Anki Overdrive still plays an important part in the game but in a different way thanks to the inclusion of car based weapons. Hitting an opponent with a weapons may slow them down, spin them off the track or score a point, but as your cars are armed mainly with forward facing weapons so it can be in your interest to pull into a different lane slow down let an opponent pass, then pull in behind them and blast them.
Does Anki Overdrive need more than one player?
One of the drawbacks with most slot racing systems is that solo play is limited and in reality multiple players are needed to make it fun, fortunately with Anki Overdrive the single player is well catered for.
Anki Overdrive includes a campaign mode, based around a young rookie racer trying to make a name for himself and told through your smartphone. Other racers are provided thorough AI and provides an ever-increasing challenge, as you work through the campaign you earn upgrades to you car for the example to make you car quicker or add extra weapons.
The Open Racing mode also supports the use of AI to provide competition to the solo player, and there are several game modes available, all of which can contain a mix of human and AI racers:
- Racing Mode – A straight race over a pre-set number of laps
- Battle Mode – Score a point by blasting your opponent with your weapons, the first can to reach the goal wins
- Time Trial – See which car can record the fastest lap.
- King of the Hill – A game of tag, one car is chosen as King of the Hill shoot it ans you become king, if you last 60 seconds without being shot then you win.
Expanding the Anki Overdrive Track
One of the selling points of Scalextric is the ability to expand your track with new track sections, and whilst the range of expansion isn’t quite on the same scale, there are several expansion packs available for Overdrive.
Additional straights and bends can be easily added, as can jumps but the section that really intrigues is the 4 directional collision section which really adds an extra dimension to the game, allowing an extra opportunity to have a shot at the other cars and the high probability of a collision with other cars is you don’t slow down.
Anki Overdrive in Summary
Anki Overdrive is fun for all the family, I’ve tested it with various age groups and all enjoy it, it’s easy to play, it’s quick to set up the track, so all’s great right?
The only element that concerns me about Anki Overdrive is the Price, this is a premium products guys. The starter set is Approx £95 from Amazon which is a more expensive than most Scalextric starter sets, although comparable with the high end sets, and the cars are approx £50 each. Add on a few expansions and the need for every racer to have a smart device and this experience could get pricey very quickly and possibly out of the reach of casual racers.
That said you need to remember that this is an incredible experience involving top end technology, that word premium is key, and you wont be disappointed by the racing that Anki Overdrive provides, it’s a leap beyond Scalextric, and perfectly blends the use of Apps and actual models – IT’S A BLAST!!