The original Beach Buggy Blitz was one of the first graphically-intensive games on Android, a frequent install for people who wanted to show off the power of their new phone or tablet. That being said, it was a bit simplistic: you "raced" along an endless beach, more or less playing catch up until you ran out of time. The sequel, Beach Buggy Racing, is much more of a conventional kart racer. It's got full races, power-ups, multiple characters and carts, and even single-device split screen multiplayer.

The graphics are a little better in the sequel, though the handling is what has really improved. Carts now have more variety thanks to a unique ability for each one, on top of the power-up weapons and defenses that appear randomly throughout the tracks. Despite the straight-up racing gameplay, BBR is set up like your typical Angry Birds-style casual game: each cup is split into multiple races, and a first place finish will get you three stars. Playing gets you coins, winning gets you more coins, which you can spend on new carts and upgrades. Controls include touch, tilt, and hardware controller options, which works really well when combined with the multiplayer split-screen and the Console Mode on the SHIELD or SHIELD Tablet.

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But hold on to your horsepower. The free-to-play Beach Buggy Racing is absolutely filled with in-app purchases of the worst order - I might go so far as to say that's infested. It uses a dual-currency system where you more or less have to pay for the gems for the best upgrades (not to mention every paint job). On top of that, there's a ticket system (read: energy) that gives you a limited amount of races you can play in the single-player mode. The only way to get a new ticket in-game is to win the race. That means that eventually even the best racer will run out, at which point you'll have to wait 20 minutes for a new ticket, swap some of the expensive premium gems for one, watch a commercial for a single ticket... or pay five bucks for infinite tickets and never worry about it again.

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But perhaps the most egregious in-app purchase is the $2 fee you'll have to pay to unlock the multiplayer split screen mode. As cool as that is for someone with multiple controllers and an HDMI or streaming setup, hiding a core feature of the game behind a paywall is a seriously anti-consumer move for a game that it's advertised as "FREE." Though the Play Store description highlights split screen mode, the fee somehow goes without mention.

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The host of in-app purchases in Beach Buggy Racing is among the worst in high-profile games on the Play Store, and particularly disappointing when previous racing games from this developer were more subtle with their freemium tactics. The game is technically impressive and fun to play, but for a more consistent and less manipulative experience, stick with the original or one of the Vector Unit's Riptide games.

Beach Buggy Racing
Beach Buggy Racing
Developer: Vector Unit
Price: Free+