The heart of any cart racer, “Avatar Grand Prix 2″ not excepted, is the multiplayer. You can race against AI cars until the cows come home (if you have cows), but the real deal is racing against other players. This is one game that’s trying to cover all the angles in that regard: offline multiplayer (for 1-4 split-screen racers), online multiplayer (2-8 players), *and* system link (an old-school favourite) for 2-8 players.
In the grande tradition of Mario Kart, your karts are armed. Weapon selection is appropriately eclectic (including one that not only makes you invisible to opponents, but also makes you invisible to yourself!). Twelve tracks, though short, look good and offer good variety. Singleplayer is here, and I didn’t notice any dreaded “catch up AI” (though I wouldn’t stake my life that there is none, most big name racers have it after all: that dreaded practice where AI cars speed up and drive better when they’re behind, and suddenly are impaired if they get ahead of you).
One break from kart game tradition is that you race in classes based on the cubic centimetres of the engine (50cc, 150cc, etc.). Pick a car class, and then every opponent races it. It guarantees that everyone is competing on the same level, and it’s a choice that works for me. Those you’re used to deciding between faster cars, stronger cars, more nimble cars, etc., might find this hard to accept, but as a veteran of PGR online races I like everyone driving the same ride. I also think this is a good game for avatars, as they imbue personality into the game without being gratuitous. In the end, if you like kart racers, this is an 80 Microsoft Point game that’s worth a download.
Here’s what the developer (Battenberg Software) has to say about the game:
“The fastest, most exciting avatar racing game in the world is back for more with 12 themed tracks, 10 powerups, online multiplayer (up to 8 players) and splitscreen (up to 4 players). Test your skills in a quick race, grand prix, time trial or test drive, and look out for “insane” powerups, mirror and reverse mode, track records, ghost cars, online best times, trophies and much much more!”