When Table Top Racing [Free] hit the new release charts last week, we were pretty stoked not just by the pedigree surrounding the developers, but also its interesting graphical theme. Now that we've had some time to check it out, it's obvious that Table Top's environments and overall visual flair are pretty top notch. Unfortunately, a relatively generic gameplay outing and its emphasis on auto-acceleration controls keep the game from reaching loftier heights.

The first thing you'll notice with Table Top Racing is its unique visual style. Taking a page from classics such as Micro Machines, Table Top has you racing across giant tables filled with every day items. For example, one theme has you on an Asian-themed restaurant table while another might put you in a Hawaiian luau setting. Not everything is food themed, as others simply place you in a kid's room with wooden blocks setting up the racetrack. Maps are nicely done, inventive (at least for iOS) and look great.

In addition to the fun theme, Table Top also excels in simply executing the basics. The graphics simply look great, with the behind-the-back camera angle doing a great job showcasing the visuals. The game even does a great job of making even the static backdrops come alive as you race around the level. Meanwhile, Table Top runs at an incredibly smooth frame rate, a must for frenetic racing games. Finally, I'm also a fan of the music, even if some of the tunes are heavily "inspired" takes on familiar songs.

Otherwise, Table Top Racing is relatively straight-forward from a gameplay perspective. A robust campaign mode challenges racers to participate in a variety of cups that have players taking part in a variety of races that eventually lead to the proper cup. Race objectives range from standard fare (time trials and place matches) to objective (run into your opponent a set time has elapsed) to the dynamic (such as elimination matches). Hitting objectives or placing high enough earns coins that can be used to purchase and outfit your vehicles, which give you a better chance to succeed. Single race modes and multiplayer round out the selections. While there's a lot to see and do in Table Top Racing, the game doesn't really offer much in terms of innovation.

Controls-wise, Table Top offers the choice of tilt-based controls or a simple left/right button scheme with both options using auto acceleration (and no brakes). Auto-acceleration seems to be the control scheme of choice these days for iOS racing titles and while I think the controls work decently, there's still a certain amount of control lost that can be frustrating. It would have been nice to simply offer it as an alternative, even if it's not the "preferred" way to play.

Meanwhile, there's a few facets of the game that don't feel right. Players aren't allowed to upgrade their vehicles in their own way; each vehicle has a set upgrade path and you'll be spending coin on the next upgrade. If you don't like the attribute it's improving, all you can hope for is that the next stat in the queue is your choice. For that matter, the tuning in regards to earning coins, upgrades, and being able to advance in the campaign is a little too heavy on the coins, offering too much of an emphasis on IAPs.

In the crowded iOS racing genre, there's a growing collection of decent racing titles that either focus on killer visuals or innovative gameplay (with the best succeeding in both). Table Top Racing falls in the former category with a fun visual style that does a good job eliciting feelings of nostalgia. Whether that's enough to differentiate itself from the pack is a matter of opinion, but as far as racing titles go you can do a lot worse.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • musclemanshawty

    I feel sorry for the ones who wanted the first comment

  • randy gash smasher

    You can't earn coins easy but need them to upgrade vehicle to win. Iap are required to do well and I hate that.
    Good review I would say 3 stars

    • bramblett05

      You can grind for coins in quick race and challenge races. Both give you a good amount.

      • Crank Moody

        yes, may be ok for a freemium title, but having paid £2 for the game i expect more than having to grind laps.

      • Gatada

        It's a racer. I'm pretty sure grinding in this case is called practicing? I mean.. driving laps is the core gameplay!

  • bramblett05

    This deserves more then 3 1/2 come on TA. This and repulze are the best racers hands down shape up with the reviews. There's strategy in this game and IAP is very optional. I don't comment on the reviews much but after minigore 2 its just been going downhill.

    • MidianGTX

      Funny, I came to the comments in support of TA giving this a realistic score despite the hype.

      • bramblett05

        Hype? Its a good game it needs no hype.

      • MidianGTX

        Yeah, it's "good" and therefore needs no hype. It's not a killer app.

    • toxiccheese

      It's an opinion. Frankly I think it's maybe slightly less than 3 stars. But to each their own.

  • randy gash smasher

    Oh we delete comment on forum now do we?

  • D. Bida

    I wouldn't mind the auto-accelerate so much if there was a drifting mechanic implemented. While I found Mini Motor Racing to be slightly too easy, I found the controls to be absolutely perfect. If the developers could've implemented similar controls this game would be much much better in my opinion. Instead every time you take a corner you're constantly squealing your tires and coming to a stop. Even if you get a car with higher "grip" (in the upgrades) and max it out, it still feels like taking a sharp corner is gonna completely slow you down. Hopefully the devs get this worked out soon in an update

    • bramblett05

      I agree with the stopping part hope it gets a fix as well. Otherwise its a great game

    • Gatada

      That is obviously by design.

      • Chester_Copperpot

        Flawed by design != Good.

      • Gatada

        Well, I live it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jwmii2 John Moorhead

    Sorry this game missed the mark with me. I would have given it 2.5 stars. A game should not be aggravating. We play games for entertainment, not to introduce a new form of stress into our lives. This game is a big ole swing and a miss and frankly even that is optimistic.

  • Bloko

    Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing once got 4.5 stars, even being far worse than this game.

  • Gamer_Kev

    I think I'm going to pass on this one for the time being. The game looks interesting, but I really hate it when a game I pay for tries to pressure me into buying game cash with IAPs, heck, to be honest I don't even like it when free games try to do that. It's just that I prefer gameplay to be based on skill than IAPs.

  • Crank Moody

    The essentials of a great game are there. The devs just need to sort out controls (touch screen to brake, and some drift if you go into a corner too fast will be good enough). They read these posts and have indicated that they will keep working on the game, so here is hoping.

    • Gatada

      That would alter the gameplay completely. I am pretty confident they designed this on purpose, and really hope they don't change it.

  • lordyokomoto

    Well been playing since last night, not a bad effort, defo sum thing missing though lacks the I wanna go back and try again if I lose, A few neat options of changing tyres to suit the race, upgrades are not choose able which is a flaw, you can only pay for what the game chooses :( where as I would prefer to be able to choose my own upgrades... A few tweaks here and there and will be a good game not bad effort though

Table Top Racing Reviewed by Eric Ford on . Rating: 3.5