Review: Touring Karts (PS4/PSVR)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • HTC Vive
  • Oculus

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • 4K HDR

Extras:

  • PlayStation VR Optional
  • PS VR Aim Controller None
  • Move Optional
Title: Touring Karts
Format: PSN (1.23 GB)
Release Date: December 12, 2019
Publisher: Ivanovich Games
Developer: Ivanovich Games
Original MSRP: $19.99 (USD)
ESRB Rating: T
A code for the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
Touring Karts is the second kart racing game on PlayStation VR. It seems like we’d be overloaded with kart racers in virtual reality after three years, but this is only the second game in the genre. And while it is absolutely an improvement over the last kart racer (one which I would never recommend), it still is needs a little polish and gameplay balance to put it up there with some of the best racers out there.

On the positive side of things, Touring Karts brings some great ideas to the mix, like combining your pick-ups to enhance their potential and damage. You also collect cash within the races in order to upgrade your vehicle or buy entirely new cars, likening this more to Gran Turismo, than something like Mario Kart, where you simply pick or unlock chassis.

Another similarity to more professional racers is the grind. While skill allows you to prevail in races, even on the easiest settings, the AI pounds you with weapons and makes getting first place a challenge. This wouldn’t be a bad thing if it was happening only from time to time, but it seems like the entire race is you getting barraged with environmental hazards or enemy weapons. Sometimes, I’d stop mid race and had no idea what hit me, or from where. I’ve been frustrated with “blue-shell cheaters”, but this was different, because I felt that even smooth driving couldn’t put enough distance between me and second place to ever guarantee a win.

Again, this really isn’t a bad thing, but I warn against frustration at least for your first couple of races.

One thing that Touring Karts does well is give you a huge number of control options. You can use the DualShock with motion controls for weapon use, or simply use the DualShock as you would for a 2D racing game. You can also use the Move controllers, which brings me to a universal point on Sony’s virtual reality controllers: it’s time guys. We need new controllers with joysticks. This is really starting to put the PSVR behind everything else that’s out there.

Thus, I stayed away from the Move controls for driving. While they do work, the precision is just not there.

Additionally, there are plenty of comfort options for those who are still growing their VR legs. You can play the game without VR or choose from three different VR perspectives: within the kart, outside of the kart (in third person), and a very clever mode where you are sitting in an arcade cabinet playing a 2D version of the game. I got the most out of the in-kart mode, but I could also see myself playing in third person, as you can see more of the environment.

Another area that the game doesn’t skimp on is content. There are a lot of tracks to play through in the campaign, which can also be played online. Also, there are plenty of cars to buy, and perks and bling to add to your vehicles.

Overall, the gameplay was fun, but not quite as polished as I hoped.

Visuals:
It ain’t pretty and seriously could have used a PlayStation Pro patch at launch. I get that the cartoony look removes the need for shaders and advance lighting, so I’m not judging it based on those expectations. And although virtual reality automatically requires some compensation on the graphics in order to render the game twice, games like Vacation Simulator have shown that cartoony VR can look gorgeous on PlayStation’s headset.

Touring Karts could probably run well on the original PlayStation.

Audio:
It sounds like the announcer has some great zingers while you race, but at default settings, you really couldn’t hear what he was saying. I had to adjust the settings to appreciate what was being said. And then immediately regretted it, because he started grating on me with repetitive commentary. I get it, “Winter is coming, we all know you watched Game of Thrones.”

The music was decent, if forgettable, but the narrator did a good job, what with that Hot Shots Golf vibe.

Online/Multiplayer:
Because the game allows for cross-platform multiplayer, I didn’t have a problem finding a game, even at pre-release.

I found that the online component of Touring Karts really gave the game life, because I could see myself losing a lot of time playing this with friends online, especially because of the decision to allow for this game to be played non-VR as well.

Since the game is so graphically simple, I wish they would have considered a “split-screen” mode where one player could play in VR while the other player could have a full screen view on the TV. Hell, they could have even done three players on the screen and one in VR.

Conclusion:
It’s not all that bad, but Touring Karts would benefit from some adjustments in audio balance, a PS4 Pro patch, and some gameplay tweaks. It’s much better than the last VR kart racer, but also far from up to par with the Mario and Crash Team racers out there. Definitely a good start.

Score:
6.5
* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook