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Review: Anki’s AI robot trucks are pricey fun for all ages

Last year, Anki’s Overdrive robot car racing Starter Kit really impressed me. For anyone uninitiated, it’s like a hybrid cross that blends Scalextric with video games, and quickly became my ‘Christmas gift of the year’.

The hybrid approach means you get physical cars driving on physical tracks and ‘shooting’ each other with virtual weaponry, all controlled from the comfort of your smartphone, so there’s no concern about losing the controllers either.

This year, the company is looking to capitalise on the festive period by launching trucks as a new vehicle category – anyone that’s familiar with the game will get to grips with the trucks quickly, though they do have a slightly different control system.

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Instead of using a slider to control the throttle (as the cars do), the racing trucks have a button that looks like an accelerator, and responds much more slowly than the equivalent slider. That’s to be expected though, trucks just aren’t ever going to accelerate like a car, though the top speed seems to be comparable.

The controls for the weapons are also placed differently, and there’s a new ‘Rage’ mode that you activate by filling your ‘Rage Meter’ (by continually accelerating) – once activated, just driving past other vehicles will inflict damage and knock them off the track. It’s extra fun on the occasions that the vehicles that have been knocked off track seem to almost magically make their way back on, though not always.

For anyone with an Anki Overdrive Starter Kit (or other Anki kits), the addition of trucks to the mix is a bit of a no-brainer, with one caveat: things are going to get expensive quickly. Racing trucks against cars might not seem fair, for example, which means you’ll really need to shell out for two trucks, which cost £60 each at their retail price.

That means just to buy the Overdrive Starter Kit and 2 trucks (you’d also get 2 cars included in the kit) would cost around £270, and that’s no cheap Christmas gift.

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