19893 reviews liked by Drax


Played a fair bit of this back at uni with friends as a party game, but recently me and a friend decided to plough through it and get all the bombs done up to section 6.

Keep Talking is quite a unique game, in that it fills a co-op puzzle niche that I've not really seen anything else attempt to fill. Most of the co-op puzzle games I've played have been more like escape-room like experiences, where you piece your collective information together to solve puzzles in a civilized and relatively slow-paced manner. Keep Talking, however, is an absolute whirlwind of activity. None of the puzzles are difficult to solve on their own, and instead 100% of the gameplay is on communication, speed and efficiency.

The breakneck pace you're forced to play at has some upsides and downsides. Especially in the later levels it can take a couple of attempts for both players to get back into the swing of things at the start of a play session. However, the intense nature of the game makes it hard to play for an extended period of time, meaning the actual window of time where both players are at their best can actually be frustratingly small. It also feels like some of the later levels encourage you to "cheat"; we ended up playing so much that it was impossible for the bomb operator not to remember a few simple instructions from the manual, and we quickly got into a routine of the operator finding the password module, reading out the first three dials, and then completing the simon module on their own while the expert works through the password. It can feel oddly unsatisfying when you realise you do just remember some of the rules, as it seems to go against the spirit of the game, but it seems pretty unavoidable.

I think the space Keep Talking occupies most succesfully is as a pick up and put down party game, ideally where the bomb operator hasn't played much of it before, and in this space it shines. It's a fun and hectic experience that no other game i know of can deliver. But there is so much late game content which doesn't fit in this model of play, and it's just a bit confusing to work out what the target audience of the more difficult bombs even is.

Jedi Survivor is a good soulslike (Sekiro-like) that is let down by a weak story and a lack of new ideas as the game starts to wrap up.

Gameplay ★★★
The mechanics are basically the same as in Fallen Order and they still work very well. My biggest complaint about FO was that it wanted to be Sekiro but didn't have the ability to cancel your attack to switch to a block for as many frames which made it more difficult to be aggressive. Survivor does improve on this (though it's still there to a point) and it also reduces the post-attack recovery frames before a dodge can be performed, which was also helpful. I enjoyed the two new lightsaber forms that were introduced, giving a larger variety of playstyles to choose from. I favored the blaster and dual wield forms. I also enjoyed the variety of Force abilities that were available, though it is annoying that most bosses are most if not entirely immune to Force attacks. The biggest issue is that 75% of the way through the game has presented you with all of the different enemies that you're going to fight so in order to make things hard it just starts throwing huge crowds at you and multi-wave encounters. This forces you to be extremely defensive and becomes tedious very quickly.

Story ★★
I won't go into spoiler territory because, frankly, it's not worth my time to discuss. The story started out strong but quickly became boring and the characters' motivations and choices questionable. The overall goal is very poorly thought out and doesn't really make logical sense until about halfway through the game, like when a kid has an idea and gets really excited about it before thinking it through. The villain's motivations are unclear and the extent of his fall quite over the top. The big twist at the end is very obvious as it approaches and also makes no sense. Another "ok now what?" type of plan.

Characters ★★★★
This one is tough to rate because the characters do feel fleshed out and full, with significant relationships to each other that seem meaningful to them, but I as the player don't really care. I'd give it 3.5 stars but I don't know how to do a half star so I'll just round up.

Art/Graphics ★★★★
The environments look good and the monsters are interesting. I like the enemy designs as well.

Music ★★★
This is another middle one where I'd normally say 2.5 but whatever. The music does a fantastic job of emulating the classic John Williams style that you would expect from Star Wars but the composer either didn't know how to communicate feelings musically or the director didn't know where to put what songs. As an example, the final scene that should be somber but hopeful sounded apprehensive and like bad things were about to happen. I actually thought based on the music that the game wasn't over and that there was about to be another surprise confrontation. Nope, just weird musical decisions.

Overall I did enjoy Jedi Survivor, and I would probably continue to play games in this series.

Spelunky is a game that hates you. It’s randomized, filled with secrets and only a few helping hands throughout your adventure, and a few too many mistakes sends you back to the beginning of it all. There are no exploits, nor cheese to be had. There is only you, and your persistence.

As of writing, I haven’t even completed Spelunky, technically I’m not even a halfway through the game. So why am I reviewing it if I haven’t dropped/finished it yet? Because this is an experience that no other game has been able to capture. I’ve played numerous roguelikes in my days, with my favorite game of all time being a roguelike. Few (really only The Binding of Isaac) have managed to capture my attention like Spelunky. Unlike a good chunk of roguelikes which rely on the player’s reflexes and skill (which isn’t bad design for the record), Spelunky throws you into a random world and tells you to survive. You’ll find this incredibly difficult. Even with the less than threatening enemies, you’ll still find yourself dying over and over again. The goal to success is expirimentation, Spelunky’s strong suit. Since runs only last a few minutes each (10-15 minutes usually), I was more open to expirimentation with the game, compared to other roguelikes where changing my strategy mid-way through could lead to a lost run of about an hour (or so). This (and The Binding of Isaac) are the only two roguelikes that I’ve seen actually get this right, and it’s disappointing, because it works in both games’ favor, and I think a lot of roguelikes would benefit from this (ENTER THE GUNGEON.). Suddenly, as you play, once you bend the rules, rather than banging your head against a wall, the game responds accordingly. You’ll find that Dart Traps are activated with motion, and even by other enemies. So carrying anything will substantially increase your chances of survival. You can use one of the ladies as an extra HP point, use her as a meat shield for those damned dart traps, or sacrifice her for a chance at an awesome cape. You can steal from the shopkeeper which will give you several bonus items, but you have to fight him, which can easily lead to your death. And then he cock blocks the gateway to the next levels. I’m only scratching the surface of what I’ve learned through my 3 hours of playtime, and it’s not only because some of it is second nature at this point. I hope to learn more about Spelunky in my many more hours to come. I’m not sure if I’ll ever complete Spelunky, because it’s so difficult, but wishful thinking leads me to believe I will. I’ve conquered dozens of unabashedly difficult games in my lifetime, so Spelunky may be no different. But for now, Spelunky is a game that has made me feel little games have ever done. Even if you won’t see the credits, play this game. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. (and thank you alpharad for bringing my attention to this game, love you dude :D)

Take “boomer shooter” out of your vocabulary; the term has been rendered meaningless.

I knew this entire little sub-genre of first-person shooters was cooked the second that the joint advertising teams of Games Workshop and Focus Entertainment all came to the conclusion that “boomer shooter” is a marketable enough selling point to tie your multi-million dollar IP to. If, indeed, it ever did mean something, it doesn’t anymore. What a boomer shooter is, in a post-Boltgun world, is “a shooter with pixel graphics”. That’s all. And if that’s all that it was — just a Doom Eternal demake — that would be forgivable. But the reality is that Boltgun is a completely miserable experience made by people who have zero fucking clue what they’re doing, chasing after trends without so much as an inkling of understanding as to why those trends are popular in the first place. Sure, fuck it. The new Doom games are gory shooters. Throwback games made popular by studios like New Blood seem to sell well. All we need to do is put the two together, boom! Free money! Paint it all in space marines and warp and chaos and we’ll be billionaires before breakfast tomorrow. How hard could it be?

I can’t fucking stand Boltgun. For some ungodly reason, someone in charge decided that the best people to put to work on a first-person shooter would be a crack team of board game and strategy developers from Auroch Digital, all of them completely unqualified to get to work on a project such as this. Consider this your first warning sign, long before you even boot up the game; why would Focus hire out to the studio behind Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics and Beermaster: Beer Brewing Simulator to make what’s intended to be a fast, brutal, tightly-paced shooter? Is it because they genuinely believed that these were the best people for the job, or was it because some tiny management-game studio from Bristol wasn’t asking for as much money as the next guys who knew what they were doing? I don’t blame Auroch, necessarily; I know what it’s like to be way in over my head under the guidance of a boss who doesn’t know enough to understand how badly I’m fucking up.

Boltgun is a game of numbers, and not of much else. “Suit your weapon’s strength to an enemy’s toughness rating,” reads one particularly cheery loading screen tip. As requested, I take aim at a Level 3 Nurgling with my STR 5 Boltgun, and the taste of bile in the back of my throat gets harder to ignore. Locking your reticle on an enemy will give you every detail about them you could ever want to know: their name, their level, total health, current health, social security number, bank password, browser history, the works. You swap between the weapons on your hotbar and each of them tells you the exact strength and name of the equipped gun: STR 4 Boltgun, STR 3 Meltagun, STR 7 Plasma Gun. Poke around levels for long enough and you’ll find secret pickups that’ll boost the power of your weapons, adding all sorts of little tags like “Kraken Round Magazine” and “Dragonfire Round Magazine” or “Machine Spirit Upgrade”. Your HUD gets flooded with all of these details, paradoxically taking up so much space on the screen that it’s near-impossible to read any of it. One pressing question remains, throughout all of this:

Why?

What do we gain from having all of this worthless fucking information on the screen at all times? Seriously, what the fuck is the point? I don’t need to know the enemy’s level. I don’t need to know exactly how much health they have. I don’t need to know a numerical value for how strong my weapons are. I don’t need to know what type of ammo I’ve got loaded into my boltgun. I don’t need to know the maximum amount of health that an enemy could theoretically have. I don’t fucking need any of this. How are you getting lapped in your UI design by the original Doom, a game that came out three fucking decades ago and realized then that you didn’t need to tell the player all of this completely fucking worthless information? If you didn’t know before playing that Auroch were strategy game developers and not people who make shooters, this is what gives it away; such a fucking obsession with showing numbers to the player in a situation where they’re worse than useless.

And none of this would matter, really, if the game were fun. If this was all just pointless, ignorable set-dressing for a game that otherwise works fine, then I could forgive it. I can’t, though, because Boltgun commits the mortal sin of being abjectly fucking boring. This might be one of the most pathetically easy games I’ve ever played, even with the difficulty cranked as high as it can go. Enemies feel like they’re shooting at you only as a formality, firing projectiles that move in slow-motion across the screen that’ll land in a different zip code so long as you strafe left. This is true for just about every enemy that can fire something at you. All of them are so sluggish that it’s as if they’re only pulling the trigger at you because they’d get fired and lose their health insurance if they didn’t. The flamers might be one of the most unintentionally hilarious monsters I’ve ever seen in a game like this; I think doctors test for brain activity by whether or not you’ve ever taken a hit from a fireball a flamer has thrown at you. You could only ever get clipped if you were comatose. Exterminatus difficulty does seem to make projectiles go a bit faster, and spawns more numerous and more powerful enemies, but I imagine most people who have played a game before could do most of this in their sleep. Not because they’re god gamers, but because Boltgun never stops drowning the player in goodies.

Pickups are peppered fucking everywhere in all of these over-long levels, littering the floor with every single type of ammo, every single grenade, and more health and armor kits than anyone could ever possibly need. There’s a section on the right side of the screen dedicated to telling you which pickups you got, and you should get used to seeing it be filled with nothing but “Boltgun ammo full, Boltgun ammo full, Heavy bolter ammo full, Krak grenade full, Health full, Health full, Health full, Boltgun ammo full, Plasma gun ammo full, Health full, Heavy bolter ammo full, Shotgun ammo full, Health full”. Outside of Exterminatus difficulty, I don’t think you ever even need to switch weapons; you get so much ammo for every single gun that you’ll never get so much as an opportunity to run a weapon dry. Armor needs to drain to zero before enemies can start dealing direct health damage, and armor caps out at 300(!!!!!), meaning you’ll always have plenty of +100 health kits to backtrack for in the unlikely situation that your foes manage to break through your 300 armor and get to your 200 health. I walked out of every stage with more supplies than I walked into them with, even after certain stages would force me into a minimum of four purges before I was allowed to move on.

In addition to your usually loop of finding color-coded keys and unlocking color-coded doors, Boltgun takes a page from the new Doom titles with the purge mechanic, where all of the doors lock and you aren’t allowed to progress until you’ve killed everything inside. New enemies will constantly spawn in, so it’s mostly just an exercise in strafing around and firing at the teleport particle effects. Enemies spawn in slowly, and the purge arenas are often big enough that you’ll be running around trying to find where the fucking enemies actually are so you can shoot them and progress. A big part of what makes these encounters so slow is that enemies spawn in waves, where more of them refuse to teleport in until you’ve killed everything from the first wave; there’ll be some shit gunner who dies in three shots from the Boltgun meandering around two continents away, and it’s up to you to go and find him so that you can get the momentum going again. There’s no challenge, there’s no pressure, it’s just blindly wandering through these enormous arenas trying to figure out if everyone else went home and didn’t tell you.

A part of me is grateful that this is on Game Pass, because it means that I didn’t need to spend a cent of my own money beyond what I was already paying to find out how atrocious this really is. The other part of me is annoyed, because I never would have bothered trying this out had it not been offered to me as part of a package deal. The only thing it cost me was my time; the one resource I can never get more of. What a complete and utter waste. You know a game is really bad when it ignites the flames of existential dread. There were so many better things I could have done with my time, and I instead allowed this game made and marketed by clueless people to suck it all away and leave me with a taste in my mouth like I ate two servings of dirt. The bar for Warhammer games is on the fucking floor. Do yourself a favor and try to forget that this even exists. I’m sorry for writing this review and reminding you of it if you’d gotten it out of your mind.

I can offer no greater condemnation than by stating that this is a sprite-based game with vertical mouselook.

Before playing this, I had very little exposure to Prince of Persia. I knew it was a series of action platformers. I knew there was a bad movie adaptation of it. I remember really wanting to play Warrior Within since the cover for the Gamecube version looked super cool and edgy, but my parents wouldn't let elementary school me buy it, so I ended up playing games like Chibi-Robo and Animal Crossing instead. I played maybe 20 minutes of the Wii version of Forgotten Sands a while back. That's about it. I only ended up playing this game now because I wanted to play at least one of the older Prince of Persia titles before diving into Lost Crown. Although I do think Sands of Time has some pretty big flaws, I do want to preface this by saying I had an absolutely great time playing it. This might be the recency bias talking, but this could easily be up there with something like the original Dragon's Dogma on my list of "best 7/10 games you'll ever play". A good two thirds of the game is made up of what would now be mockingly referred to as "uncharted climbing", there's a certain deliberateness to all of your actions that still makes it enjoyable. Most of the game's challenges boil down to having to figure out how to traverse a room or outdoor area, then actually timing things like pole swings and wall jumps to make it happen. Simply having to do things like press a button to raise yourself up or drop down a ledge, or not being able to stand up on a pole you can swing on and instead having to turn around, swing, then jump against the wall in order to get to a pole directly above you are satisfying enough to keep platforming interesting. Using the dagger to rewind time mostly seemed like a gimmick to me thanks to the fast load times and incredibly generous checkpointing of the PC release, but then I got to the point near the end of the game where you have to climb a large tower without it and I realized just how nice it was to be able to undo one bad jump or something without having to go through the whole sequence again.

The combat is rather simple, though not because of the Prince's moveset. You have a basic melee combo, a block and parry, several abilities tied to the Dagger of Time, and a few acrobatic moves such as a lunge that's performed by jumping against a wall or vaulting over an enemy to attack them from behind. I do quite like how most enemies don't actually die unless you stab them with the dagger while they're down ( a pretty clear inspiration for the systems used by games like Assasin's Creed or the Arkham series where you have to confirm takedowns) and the enemy variety is nice, but there are two things that hold the combat sections back. The first is that most enemies have one attack that's always the best way to deal with them. Use the lunge against the two-sided spearmen or the big guys with swords. Vault over the female enemies with two swords and the big hammer guys. You can vary this up, especially with the parry, but it always feels like you're just drawing out encounters in order to use cool moves that are weaker than the best option. The second issue is the encounter design itself. Fights are mostly limited to open spaces and enemies come at you in groups of three or four. Kill an enemy, and another one will spawn in to take its place. Repeat this 15 or 20 times. Now I get that that's probably due to hardware limitations, but it really makes fights feel like they're artificially dragged out when you just keep cutting down enemies and exact copies of them appear out of nowhere like there's a spectral clown car just driving around the arena. I also get that the development team didn't want the game to be like 90% platforming so they needed to put more combat encounters in the game, but doing something like putting some enemies in the mostly empty hallways of the palace, or even just putting some traps in the arenas and letting you use them on the enemies could have gone a long way.

As far as presentation goes, the game holds up pretty well. The art direction and the way that the Prince grows more disheveled as the game goes on really sell it, and Yuri Lowenthal's performance is easily a high point in his career. He manages to sell the Prince as both a cocky noble seeking glory and as someone who's in way over his head and who knows it. I particularly like the narration of the Prince retelling the story of the game to Farah and the parts where you fail and he goes "No no no, I jumped over the bridge" or things like that. The music was generally fine, but there were a few standout tracks. A lot of it is a kind of mix of metal music and stereotypically Arabian music. I really wish there were more tracks that leaned into using vocals like The Tower of Dawn or Discover the Royal Chambers, though. The story itself was decent enough, but I felt like Farah as a character was pretty bland and her romance with the Prince was forced to the point that I honestly couldn't tell if she was actually into him or just seduced him to steal the dagger near the end (it seems like she only did this because he hesitated the first time they got to the hourglass, but IDK). For like half of the game I couldn't even remember her name and just thought of her as the girl who pulled switches. I do like the overall story of the Prince letting his pride get the better of him and making a terrible mistake that he then has to try and fix, though. It's very much a tragic tale in the classical sense of the word.

The PC port was surprisingly stable considering this is just a game from 2003, but I did have two issues with it. First was that the fog effects are just fucked to the point of completely covering the screen in the stuff. Thankfully the fog can just be turned off, but I don't really know how much that impacts the atmosphere of the game since I played through the whole thing without any fog. Second was that a lot of the dialogue from Farah during gameplay was super quiet, almost to the point of being unintelligible. This seemed like some kind of positional audio thing, but I can't say for sure since there were times where I could barely hear even though she was like three feet away from the Prince. It was still pretty painless for an older title, though, since I didn't have to really mess with compatibility or fan patches or any of the other tinkering that you normally have to do to make a game like this run on modern hardware. Considering I mostly played this game on a whim and got it for like $2 in a Steam sale, I'm really glad I played it. I'm looking forward to playing the other PoP games in the future, particularly Warrior Within. I want to see if it's really as edgy as the box art suggests.

I can't emphasise it enough. Lunark is totally fucking ruined by its Kickstarter reward integration.

The game follows hot on the trail of Another World and (much more so) Flashback. Quiet, sombre games that stranded us on strange, desolate alien planets. Imagine if in the first 20 minutes of Star Wars, C3PO and R2D2 had to have conversations with the full investors board of 20th Century Fox, learning about their hobbies and the names of their pets. It's like when there's a free mobile version of an old game, but you have to watch an advert every minute.

Lunark's tone is all over the place, and it really strips out all potential investment I might have put into it. It's a game that went into production because a talented pixel artist got an enthusiastic response when posting gifs on Twitter. The game looks great, no doubt, but the nightclub and alien furries are eyecandy that really clash against the thrust of the story. It's a tribute to cinematic platformers, but a dishearteningly uncinematic one. The weak jokes and constant tonal swerves undercut any worldbuilding aspect it ever feigns interest in. I bawked a little when I saw Fumito Ueda listed in the Special Thanks credits.

There's also aspects of the game that I will address as unquestionably "dated", like the save functionality. Lunark's levels are often long, complex and challenging. You're often overwhelmed by it, and quite relieved when you overcome a tricky sequence. There's often well-placed checkpoints, but those aren't saves. You only save when you finish a level. Until you do, your console is locked into Lunark until you either get past the bullshit that caused you to turn it off in the first place, or you sacrifice all your mid-level progress for a go on Splatoon or something. There's no need. I'll defend the original SNES Super Mario World's use of infrequent save points, as replaying levels is quick, fun, and builds your momentum towards the next challenging checkpoint spot, but it's got no place in a 2023 indie game. I don't think much of its audience are going to stick around to see the ending.

At its best, Lunark occasionally works as a Flashback fangame for Flashback fans. It's when it elaborates on its gameplay and offers complementary level concepts and enemy types. It's kind of refreshing to see something with such reverence for Flashback's gameplay, when so many players bemoan having to actually adopt its restrictive controls and logic patterns. I wouldn't care a tenth as much about Flashback if I didn't love how it played, and I was pleased with a lot of the things Lunark added to it. Setting off security drones to explode over targets and timing your movement for overhead obstacles atop a speeding train. I thought it was pretty cool. I'd have loved to have seen these things in a game that felt like a cohesive adventure, with tangible stakes and a logical progression of events.

I'm not someone who typically prioritises story, but it's so central to why these games work. It's what makes Oddworld haunting and fascinating, or why breaking out of the cage in Another World feels like more than just pressing left and right repeatedly. If I don't feel a connection to the character's situation, I'd rather they didn't waste my time pretending there was a world to take interest in.

I really wanted to like Lunark. Us Flashback guys ought to stick together. We're a dying breed. It just feels like the guy was taking on jobs that he wasn't suited for. The art and gameplay are good, but the project ought to have had a director with a clear vision. As it is, it's going to sit on ten-thousand Steam libraries with fifteen minutes of logged activity.

Haak

2020

Five stars if you don't count the Black & White DLC, even if it's supposed to give a definitive ending to the game. I 100%ed all the maps other than the DLC one and beat Chuka in the DLC, couldn't figure out how to progress and peaced out on it with 80% map completion.

I think it's my kind of platforming and exploration-based Metroidvania and I appreciate the potential levels of nonlinearity in it that are tied specifically to your ability to understand your mechanics fully (some of these skill sets can be learned via found notes in some areas).

There were a few minor issues, such as the camera not going back to center when doing the down-dash ability and the lack of ability to have quest markers in case you're looking for someone or something in particular -- this is especially a pain in the case of finding all the robots (which I had already found before I got the quest started, so I just skipped that whole deal), as well as the Subway Depot quest and a generator quest for a particular region -- it asks you to turn on generators and you can 100% the map without finding all of the generators if you're like me and simply didn't look in a particular direction in one room.

I think my only other gripe was very minor and involved a particular ability you eventually get that is really fun, but can make some of your other abilities become a bit more finicky, without going into spoiler territory for some of the cool stuff you get.

Ended up dropping 24 hours on it for 100% map completion for everywhere other than the DLC and gathered all relevant items in the game but didn't finish a couple side quests. Absolutely worth it at full price and I'd say it's worth a look for any Metroidvania player -- if you see a sale, snatch it up!

Also, shout-outs to the dev for being cool in the Steam discussions when a Dutch person called his game "cringe" because in Dutch, "haak" means "hook" and you have a hook weapon, even though the dev speaks Cantonese and "haak" means "black" because your brother (the main quest point of the game has you seeking him out) is "baak", which means "white". The very polite correction followed by dead silence from the Dutch user was golden.

I had no sword at all for two and a half hours.

I eventually found Biggoron's Sword on sale for 15 Rupees in the Goron City shop as Adult Link. However, as an incredibly frustrated young Alex learned in 1999, you cannot defeat Ganon in Ocarina of Time with the Biggoron Sword. In order to finish the game, the final blow must come from the Master Sword.

During my first playthrough of this (or any) randomizer, the Master Sword was the very last item that I found. This is what it took for me to find it:

• Both the Master Sword and the Kokiri Sword were in the Fire Temple in optional chests, with the Master Sword's chest requiring the Scarecrow Song to reach it. But I couldn't get to either of those without access to the Megaton Hammer, as the room to the left where you encounter Darunia had no keys in it. (The key to the door on the right side of the entry hall turned out to be in the Boss Key chest)

• The Hammer was in the Gerudo Training Grounds, so I was ultimately gated by my lack of Hover Boots.

• The Hover Boots were in Jabu-Jabu's belly, in place of the Zora's Sapphire. But I couldn't complete that section without the Boomerang.

• The Boomerang was in the moat in place of the Ocarina of Time, but I needed the 3 Spiritual Stones before Zelda would chuck it in there.

• The Kokiri Emerald was in one of the Gibdo coffins in the Bottom of the Well, so I needed the Lens of Truth to discover that.

• And the Lens of Truth was sold by a Business Scrub in Dodongo's Cavern. I got a good deal though, it was only 10 rupees.

Obviously, I had no idea where the Master Sword would be, so this wasn't a plan or a list of instructions I followed, it's just how things shook out. And I had a great time! I used Ship of Harkinian's randomizer, and there are some fantastic options that made the constant back-and-forth scouring of Hyrule more feasible. The most useful ones were unbreakable Deku Sticks (absolutely critical since I didn't find a sword for a while), changing Link's age with the Song of Time, Bunny Hood increasing speed like in Majora's Mask, and ageless items (allowing Young Link to use the Hookshot, for example). I was incredibly impressed with Ship of Harkinian though, and will definitely put more playthroughs into that, randomized or not.

LITERALLY the exact same game as the first one.

The only differences are:
1) new tracks (with less visual variety)
2) reskinned menu
3) now motocross and regular racing are split into separate championships.

That is it. Even the soundtrack is the same.

I don't even know how to rate this game because on one hand this means it's as good as the first one (almost, I still prefer the visual variety of the original), on the other hand, if I bought it back in the day, I would've felt robbed. This is like a DLC sold as a full game. If something like this came out today, it would've probably caused an outrage.

Being unable to rebind WASD at all is rookie tier shit.
There's also no way to disable the crosshairs and a longstanding progress destroying save bug is allegedly still in the game despite the devs making a round of celebratory replies informing everyone they had fixed it.
Refunded. I wasn't even able to test out the respawning system to see if it was worth whining about it before I got pissed off enough to drop it. 18 minutes, that's a new record. This hasn't left Early Access in spirit.
It's also on Unreal so I bet it has the trademark shitty occlusion culling errors too.

Wake me up when the game feels finished.