KartKraft – Get Better at Every Other Racing Game
Holy attention to detail, Batman! I needed to lead with that, I really did. For a game touted as early access, yikes! I am a self-diagnosed knit-picker with OCD that drives me nuts often, but I was unable to be dissatisfied. Even the few things I found that may or may not be problems, I was more than willing to live with to play the game. I mean, watch the trailer, it’s exactly representative of the gameplay, and how often does that happen? Ok, I promise I’m done giving the dev a chubby. Let’s dive into the good stuff.
First of all, let’s talk about those details. The graphics are pretty darnn awesome, almost on par with something like Project CARS. The kart, driver, and world are meticulously designed. Hands and legs move naturally, and you can see them since it’s an open kart. The head moves well, and in a surprising and amusing turn of events, when you troll the game by driving the wrong way and into opposing traffic, they turn and look at you in disgust (I’m guessing, under the helmet) because you’re being such a douche.
There are drones flying over the track, apparently providing video for the event. Not only can you see them flying around, along with their respective shadows, but the noise of propellers gets louder and quieter as you approach and drive away, and they kick up dust and grass when they get low to the ground. Necessary? No. Cool? Absolutely.
There are multiple views to drive from.
The cliché slightly behind and above camera is cool, and there is the off to the side view, as well as the nose-cam. My favorite view though, was the simulated inside-the- helmet view. The slight black frame around the screen bumps along realistically as you bound about the track. I think this would be a great view to play if this ever supported VR.
The early access features a limited amount of tracks and options. Qualifying in solo is really hard. If you get off the track, the lap doesn’t count at all, and is marked as “invalid”. This is what I meant as far as “get better at every other racing game.” In many racing games, you can bounce off the walls, use them to help on corners, or perhaps even make a solid comeback after spinning out into the grass. In KartKraft, however, just barely onto the grass, and the lap is invalid. You really need to work on your steering, and most importantly throttle control, in order to play this game.
KartKraft is nothing like your fairground gokart track. This is legit, realistic racing that is designed for the driving enthusiast to prove they’re great at the game. There are no fun over-the- top crashes, though you can fly out of your kart if you hit something hard enough. A slightly anti-climactic slow-mo effect happens as you do so, along with a counter displaying how many meters you’ve managed to fling yourself. Surprisingly, my character was either really heavy, or you don’t actually fly that far when you hit a wall head-on at 100km/hr.
There are only a small handful of issues that I experienced with KartKraft.
First off, I couldn’t drive at all, for a while. I could navigate the menus and start a race, but the kart wouldn’t move or steer. I thought something was amiss, until I opened the settings menu. Only then did I notice that everything was defaulted to a gamepad controller. A few seconds after plugging in my Xbox controller USB dongle though, and it was off to the races. The other issue I had was that sometimes during the loading process, the transitions from cinematic to placeholder screen to game were not smooth, so there were moments I thought the game had just plain locked up.
But with a little bit of patience, the game launched and ran without issue. The last thing I’d like to mention is more of a pet peeve than an issue. Again, there is no tutorial to let you know what the controls are. I assumed that left trigger was brake because right trigger was gas, and it was not. I assumed holding brake would automatically reverse me, and it did not. I had to mash the X and A buttons to shift from forward to neutral, and then reverse. If there’s only one forward speed, I’m not sure it was totally necessary to implement a manual gearbox. But then again, if the goal of this product was to create a realistic simulation, perhaps that’s the way they have to do it.
All in all, I was very pleased with KartKraft. Right after playing it, I went down to the local gokart track and did a few laps on the various courses they have. Granted, these were the junky 5hp lawnmower gokarts, but I felt like a pro weaving around the corners. Did this game make me a better driver? Probably not, but I will imagine that it did. If you’re looking for a hyper-realistic gokart racing simulator, then KartKraft is for you. Crash-em smash-em wild racing fan? Look elsewhere, because this is for the pros.