At first glance, Battle Riders feels like someone did to Mario Kart what Hollywood did to Superman. Got rid of the colour, ramped up the angst, and made everything grim and gritty.

Fortunately, while Man of Steel wasn't very good, Shooty Bang Cars of Steel (or Battle Riders to its mum) is surprisingly fun.

I say surprisingly because initially it's quite easy to dismiss. Like in so many modern racers you're dumped into a very grey world.

You half expect a gravelly voice to start talking about how mankind has wrecked everything and the only joy left comes from people racing armoured cars.

There's lots of concrete, quite a bit of destruction, and the general feeling that any plumber on a go-kart with a few orbiting turtles would soon find himself turned into a smear on a graffiti-daubed wall.

It's Gloom City by way of Misery Alley - and it all feels a bit too simple.

Gun for the lead

You tilt to steer, and can slipstream cars in front, but there's no drifting. You can brake (something that’s apparently necessary on precisely one section of a single track) and press buttons to fire your machine guns at whatever happens to be in front of you.

Damage a car enough and it'll explode and respawn, costing it vital seconds and enabling you to improve your position. And that's about it.

New levels are unlocked in a fairly strict linear fashion (although you open up the next four rather than just the next one), and you must win to access further challenges. Just like in real life, second place is never enough.

Races involve the usual fare you get in a battle-style driving game: head-to-head duels, time-attack laps, weaponless races, and standard fights where you get to simultaneously shoot and race several other cars.

The reason Battle Riders is worth sticking with is because it actually feels like racing. Any perceived shortcomings are soon left on the starting grid once you're immersed in the thick of the action.

You'll be screaming round corners, gunning for pick-ups (credits, weapons, speed-up boosts), and attempting to obliterate your competition in a manner that even Formula One's Nico Rosberg would find a touch unsporting.

Dirty racer

If there's a catch-up system, it's not noticeable. If you screw up, there's a good chance you're not going to win. And when you're battling for the lead there's a thrill when an opponent draws alongside and you slam them into a wall.

Then there are the most sublime moments of satisfaction, when a weakened, heavily damaged lead car is zooming into the distance, and you take them out with a well-placed raygun blast.

Yes, the few tracks you get are drip-fed and unlock in a linear manner. Yes, it'd be good to see multiplayer and a cup system rather than a slew of individual races. And yes, perhaps the game shouldn't be quite so grey.

But if you've got the need for speed and an itchy trigger finger, Battle Riders offers plenty of bang for your buck, and rapidly turns into a truly rewarding, speedy blast.