It’s got to be said that whilst karting games have been about for some time, it’s rare that we ever actually see a single one that looks to take the actual sport of kart racing seriously. Sure, there’s plenty to love about the latest Mario, Sonic or even Crash Bandicoot themed kart racers – even Nickleodeon have got in on the action with Spongebob now racing around Bikini Bottom – but besides the karts found in the likes of Project Cars, we’ve rarely seen anything that truly resembles the thrill and excitement of true kart racing. Maybe KartKraft can change all that though, and as the upcoming simulator gets into gear for release on Xbox One, PS4 and PC, for now it’s found hitting the apexes of Steam Early Access.
Now we need to make one thing clear here, and that’s the fact that KartKraft is still very early in development, so early in fact that my time with the game has only allowed for track time with the Practice mode. That of course will all change during the next few months and throughout the early access phase of the game, and it’s expected we’ll see plenty of new features and gameplay tweaks being brought to the game. But whilst this is a title you can expect to see on Xbox One when the final release finally arrives, chances are it should not be one you should be pinning on your calendars as arriving any time soon.
That said, it goes without saying that KartKraft has all the potential to be a truly fabulous racer. Even at such an early point in development, the passion the developers Black Delta have got for creating a believable and true to life experience is one that shines through, no more so than with the stunning looking karts and the track locations proving incredibly well designed.
KartKraft is billed as a hyper-realistic kart racing game with lifelike physics, laser scanned circuits and officially licensed gear for driver and kart customisation. At present that isn’t quite an entirely accurate depiction of the game but it’s certainly on track to achieve all of those things by the time release rolls around, with VR recently being implemented too.
At present, whilst the karts and the tracks certainly look the part – as you’d expect being created in the powerful Unreal Engine 4 – the handling and physical feel of the vehicles is still yet to come across as realistic. Yes it’s still early on, but it’s currently the one thing holding the developers back from having a near instant-hit on their hands.
It’s worth noting that KartKraft isn’t a game that’s aimed towards the casual racer – it’s fast, it’s furious and it’s one that is clearly looking to implement every real life aspect of the kart racing world to the player’s fingertips. That means every pull of the engine will be felt as it screams along at 21,000 RPM, and every squeal and slide as your wheels attempt to grip the track will be heard as you throw the kart through the chicanes and around each corner. It won’t be for everyone, but simulation fans will be sure to have a blast when it eventually arrives later this year on Xbox One, PS4 and PC, with karts reaching the same speeds as high-performance supercars.
Whether you should be looking at this over the upcoming Project Cars 3, or even the already available Project Cars and Project Cars 2, I’m not so sure, especially given how well the Project Cars series has already managed to handle professional kart racing, but with KartKraft set to be the first game in a long while to truly embrace the sport individually, I for one am excited to see how development goes.
Of course with a current price point of £19.99, it’s not exactly the cheapest Steam Early Access title around, and with very little content to be going on with it’s not one you’re going to want to buy into just yet. But with a full Career mode planned and real parts included, laser scanned tracks and a full physics system in place to compliment each race, this is definitely a racer that we expect to see making waves in the coming months.
Many thanks go to IMGN.PRO for providing us access to KartKraft via Steam Early Access. We’ll be sure to keep you fully updated as to the progress of the game in the lead up to release in Q3 2019.