MotorHEAT by Milkstone Studios is one of the few racing games on the Xbox LIVE Indie Games channel that is actually incredibly well made. Old school gamers will immediately notice the gameplay is somewhat reminiscent to Rad Racer on the NES but with many notable improvements. Behind the wheel of what looks like a Lamborghini Diablo, you are speeding down a never-ending road at hundreds of miles per hour in a race against the clock. Reaching checkpoints gives you additional time while crashing punishes you with time deductions.
Crashing is an ever-present danger because the road is chock full of other cars who abruptly change lanes and seem to refuse to drive anything other than the speed limit. Passing each car not only nets you points, but also can refill your turbo boost meter depending on how close your car comes to theirs. The closer, the better. Turbo boost will send your car into overdrive and becomes very important when making checkpoints later on. It also makes it a lot harder to avoid oncoming traffic, however, so the key is use it frequently but wisely.
The game throws a few curve balls at you to try to throw you off like having to drive through a thick fog or driving in the dead of night. Using turbo boost during these times can be suicide as by the time you see headlights coming at you; it might already be too late. Several powerups such as temporary invincibility, bonus multipliers, extra score, and increased turbo boost give the game some additional variety.
Like other games from Milkstone Studios, MotorHEAT has built-in achievements which give you something to aim for other than just trying to place high on the leaderboards (though they don’t increase your gamerscore). You can also customize the paint job of your car but unfortunately there are no additional car models to use besides the default one. It would have been nice to have a choice of at least two or three different cars.
The graphics really aren’t much to look at when compared to some of the retail racing games out there but it should be remembered that this is an indie game so expecting it to look like Forza Motorsport would be foolish.
MotorHEAT is especially fun to play with friends by taking turns at a party or get-together and competing to see who can post the highest score. It will also appeal to gamers who love competing in time trial-type games and constantly working to improve upon their performance to climb up the leaderboards. At a cost of just 80 Microsoft Points, MotorHEAT is one of the best games on the XBLIG marketplace.
Final Score: 4 / 5 stars
(This review was based off a review copy of the game).