When Mashed came out on PS2 everyone said "Woah! It's better than Micro Machines!" which may explain why Codemasters have hired that game's developers to make this sequel. But, mysteriously, it's nowhere near as good as Mashed. Maybe Supersonic Software have all their best people working on Mashed 2. V4 isn't bad, particularly, but it feels a bit, well, dated.
Back in the early '90s the concept was genius - driving pea-sized motors around familiar home environments had us shivering with glee as youngsters - but it no longer has the same thrill. It's like East 17 doing a comeback tour; they used to be pop superstars, but now they're a group of porky thirty-something's awkwardly shuffling to songs with little or no relevance.
There are three main modes; checkpoint, battle and race. Checkpoint sees you racing between markers before the time runs out. The thing about checkpoint mode is, it's bafflingly difficult. Even on the easiest setting you'll struggle to get through each checkpoint in the time it gives you. Battle mode is a lot more fun. Skid over a spinning icon and a weapon is lashed to the front of your car. These vary from machine-guns to a giant hammer and your goal is to slow down your opponent and get to the end of the screen ahead of them. Do this enough times and a meter fills up with green dots, winning you the match when it's full. Then there are basic races against four or five other cars, but we don't really need to explain them, do we?
But don't play it on your own - it does nothing very interesting and, as is the case with most PSP games, the analogue stick makes control a chore. The Wi-Fi multi-player game is where it's at, offering excellent head-tohead racing fun - but if you like the sound of that, you're better off playing on PS2, with you and your mates gathered round a big telly. Go through tournament mode on PSP's tiny screen on your lonesome and you'll soon feel yourself slipping into a slumber.
Not the spectacular series revival we were expecting. Not that many people really care about Micro Machines any more and this tired sequel isn't doing it any favours.