Top-down racers, whilst never boasting the same level of depth as their 3D counterparts, are reliably accessible. They tend to put a playful spin on what is otherwise an often daunting gameplay experience for newcomers, allowing almost anyone to dive right in immediately. Ultimate Racing 2D succeeds in this respect, boasting simplistic gameplay that is incredibly easy to get to grips with. The problem, though, is that it isn’t much fun – at all.
On the track, you control one of many classes of vehicles, including the obvious choices like supercars, go-karts, and motorbikes, along with more obscure vehicles like limousines and forklift trucks. The choice of tracks seems fairly broad at first, with multiple countries represented by a single track, but they’re all so similar to one another in look and design that you’ll often feel like you’re repeating the same stage over and over.
Driving around is incredibly easy to do, though some newcomers may briefly get confused, as you’ll need to move the analogue stick left or right to turn regardless of which direction your vehicle is facing. It’s easy to get your head around this once you realise what you need to do, and thankfully there’s little else to learn once you’ve mastered it. There’s also the option to use a boost, which once depleted, replenishes every time you pass the starting grid. It’s relatively effective on straights, but use it on a bend and you’ll almost certainly veer off into the barriers.
The gameplay itself is incredibly easy, but the same cannot be said for the opponent AI. Even with the difficulty dialled down, your fellow racers are fast, and they seemingly never make a mistake. If you happen to accidentally drive onto gravel or smash into a barrier, don’t be surprised if you then stay at the bottom of the leaderboard. Only by utilising your boost and cutting enough corners can you hope to climb back up to the top. It’s difficult to a degree that’s simply not fun, despite how simplistic the overall gameplay is.
Off the track, you’ve got a few different modes and options to choose from. You can take part in the career mode, which lets you gradually purchase more cars with coins as you progress. Season mode is essentially a Grand Prix taking place over multiple locations, and finally, single race is exactly what it says on the tin, giving you immediate access to the entire roster of vehicles.
You can tune the game’s difficulty before racing, and alter the locations’ weather conditions along with your tyre type (though the actual impact this has on gameplay is questionable). By default, the game’s camera is quite far away, giving you a good view of the track. There is, however, a real risk of losing your vehicle amongst the many similar-looking opponents, so mercifully you can move the camera closer in the settings to alleviate this problem. Ultimately though, none of it is enough to elevate what is sadly a very mediocre racing game.