Where between the first and the second part, only a very short time had passed, Codemasters took a couple of years to finally deliver 'V3' of their popular Micro Machines series. Conceptually, it had been pretty much maxed out already. So let's see what groundbreaking innovations they have come up with!
So… hmm… yes… interesting… oh? Well, there's not a lot, is there? We're still driving the same toy cars across pretty similar courses (i.e. the garden, on the billiards or the kitchen table etc.). The game modes seem familiar as well. There is an additional car in 'Challenge' races. The head-to-head mode is exactly as before. The funny shadow car mode is identical as well. OK, some additional networked multiplayer modes. A driving school tutorial.
In fact, the only substantial change to the gameplay may be the addition of small powerups lying around on the courses. Most of them are simple weapons, like missiles (to attack vehicles ahead) or mines (to attack trailing vehicles). Which is ironic, because the one thing which had been removed between part 1 and part 2 were the armed tanks. Which were fun for some time, but somehow broke the game balance. So now they're introduced again, and every other vehicle can be similarly armed as well. Really, the only decent powerup which makes sense is the 'grabber' (for lack of a better word) which only works at close proximity and catapults a leading opponent behind oneself.
The only really big change is purely cosmetic. Instead of the flat overhead view, everything is now rendered is three dimensions. Which, using a 3D accellerator chip from the mid-90s, looks alright. Unfortunately, nobody owns such an obsolete technical curiosity anymore, and without one, everything looks like somebody vomited on the screen and didn't bother to wipe the remains off. And even if you can stand that, all objects obviously floating above the surface will still bother you.
Not just that, the seemingly randomly shifting viewpoint angles have fundamental repercussions on the gameplay. Often, you will find yourself stuck behind some object – with the perspective making it impossible to maneuver out again, since you can't even see yourself! Oh, and remember how the head-to-head races work? Once one driver manages to pull ahead out of the screen, she receives a point. Simple enough if you have an overhead view. Not so simple if the angle changes constantly, making the distance between the screen's edges variable. Look, they spoiled their best selling point, the game mode which was most fun! Woohoo!
Last, but not least, the thing with these so-called 3D graphics is that they haven't actually been used for any purpose. Where the previously released Ignition actually used the newly found dimension to enhance the tracks, MM3 makes no such attempt. The graphics are an end on their own, because that was the way 'everybody did it' at the time. The collateral damage being to confuse and irritate the hell out of the players.
This is a sequel we could have done without. Even if the core remains somewhat (but barely) serviceable, the predecessor surpasses this one in every imaginable respect!