I’m a big fan of both kart racers and virtual reality, but they’re two things that haven’t really been utilised together successfully so far. Sure, gamers have had VR Karts to play through, but it was a bit bland and lacked the excitement that fans would’ve hoped for from the genre. When Touring Karts was revealed though, I couldn’t help but to get a little excited – would gamers finally have the virtual reality karting experience that they’d been waiting for?
Touring Karts gameplay is simple: it plays like a classic kart racer that features zany weapons and simple drifting mechanics that encourage the player to keep their speed up as they zoom through each course. There are multiple control options on offer with the DualShock, Move Controller, Steering Wheel and even the 3D Rudder all compatible with the game, whilst you can even mix them up together to go for as authentic an experience as possible. Admittedly, my personal favourite was just to use the DualShock controller, but Steering Wheel owners will certainly have a blast with the hectic nature of the game.
There are multiple camera angles to play from too, so those who aren’t fully comfortable in virtual reality can play from a third-person perspective if they prefer. Of course, the best way to experience Touring Karts is from first-person with the comfort blinders turned off, but it really comes down to player preference.
One thing Touring Karts certainly gets right is the basics. The racing itself feels fast and fluid in-game, whilst taking on other players in multiplayer showdowns is mighty addictive. The game has a rewarding sense of progression to it too, with players constantly unlocking new items to use or additional courses to race across. It’s a VERY fun game to play and I can see myself coming back for more and more races for a long time.
It helps that there’s plenty of content on offer, with twenty-two courses featured in the game that are inspired by real-life Formula One courses. Admittedly, the course environments themselves can be a little bland in places, but they all have pop culture references littered across them and plenty of shortcuts to uncover, so they still manage to feel exciting. There are plenty of karts to unlock too, each of which can be customised with the many cosmetic items you unlock through playing the game. They’re all spread across different teams (which again seem inspired by Formula One), but they all have something distinct about them to encourage you to play around and get your own personalised kart set up.
Touring Karts really is packed with content, with the variety of game modes offering plenty for players to enjoy in both single and multiplayer. The single player campaign will keep you busy for a heck of a long time too, with plenty of championships to compete in and individual challenges to complete that encourage you to play the game in specific ways – doing so unlocks additional content, so it’s worth paying attention to. The developer stated that there’s easily a hundred hours’ worth of single player content in the game and I think I believe them…
Of course, a kart racer is nothing without its weapons, and thankfully Touring Karts has these in spades. You’ve got the likes of a giant mallet to flatten foes, an ice block to freeze them, a rocket launcher to blast them, a drink to give you a speed boost, and even a chicken to… uh… peck at your foes (I think). Whilst these are all fun to use anyway, the fact you can combine them together to make for a more powerful weapon concoction is even neater and adds a unique twist to Touring Karts’ competitive gameplay. The only real issues I had with the weapons was that it could be difficult to use them at times given that you’ve got to physically aim them with motion controls, but after a few hours play you’ll start to get used to the mechanic and it becomes easier to perform – they certainly ensure that each race in the game has a chaotic twist to it.
Want to know what else causes chaos in Touring Karts? The on-track hazards, with the likes of giant monkeys throwing barrels at you, AT-AT-inspired robots marching across the course, and even the course itself shattering and leaving deadly pitfalls for players to fall into. Much like the weapons, they add an extra degree of zaniness to the experience which helps ramp up the fun and excitement offered by the game. Just don’t be surprised if a stray banana that’s been thrown causes you to rage a little when it costs you that first place finish…
Kart racers are at their best when played with friends and Touring Karts offers multiplayer for up to eight players to enjoy. Honestly, it’s such a blast to play, whilst the fact that you can face off against AI opponents in between ensures that races are streamlined together and you aren’t left waiting around. In fairness, the servers have been quite busy early on so I’ve never struggled to find players to race against, whilst the Daily Online Cups always give you something new to work for. It’s definitely one of the best multiplayer experiences I’ve had on PlayStation VR so far and one I can see myself coming back to time and time again.
There’s no doubting my experience with Touring Karts has been a very positive one, but the game isn’t perfect. For one, there’ve been a few occasions where the game has crashed or I’ve found myself randomly stopping and losing control of my kart – the physics can be a bit all over the player too and there have been countless times when I’ve been launched off course for seemingly no reason. Given the competitive aspect of the game, this could make for quite a few frustrating moments, especially when in the middle of an online race. Hopefully, it’s something that the developer can fix soon. The visuals of the game are a little bland too, though it’s a minor complaint – they’re not ugly and there’s plenty of colour, but there are certainly better looking PlayStation VR gamers out there.
Touring Karts is an absolute blast to play and one of my favourite multiplayer experiences on PlayStation VR. It’s packed to the brim with content so you’re definitely getting plenty of bang for your buck – it’s actually a bargain at just £15.99 with potentially hundreds of hours of fun gameplay on offer across all of Touring Karts’ game modes.
It’s not perfect though and there were some technical glitches popping up during my time playing, though I haven’t encountered anything that’s completely ruined the experience for me. Still, they can be a little annoying, especially since they can occur when you’re in the middle of competing with others. Hopefully, it’s something the developers fill fix sooner rather than later…
Besides that, the game is a heck of a lot of fun to play. If you’re after some exciting and zany karting action on PlayStation VR that you can enjoy with friends, you won’t want to miss out on Touring Karts.
Developer: Ivanovich Games
Publisher: Ivanovich Games
Platform(s): PlayStation VR (Reviewed), Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, PlayStation 4, PC