A few kinks slow the speedometer down, but KartWorld still manages to burn some rubber.
There are few things more fun during the summer than going out with your friends to the go-kart track. But in the scorching dog days that have dominated this summer in the US, money from entertainment budgets have been reinvested in air conditioning and apartments to prevent sweating from just being awake. If you’re locked inside but still have the urge for some friendly competitive racing, KartWorld may be your savior. The Facebook game looks to capture the joys of the race day by bringing it to your social network. Does it burn rubber or just burn out?
KartWorld is the latest racing title to find its way onto Facebook’s Apps track, pushing into a lane that is surprisingly crowded. It sets players up with their own garage where they’ll take care of and service vehicles to earn currency. This will fund what should be the real appeal of KartWorld–racing. Using a quest system, KartWorld attempts to emphasize races by presenting challenges and trials that will put players’ tires back on the pavement rather than raised up in the service bay.
Unfortunately, because of the freemium model that is in place with this title, it can occasionally be tough to get to the track. After each race, you’ll have to service your vehicle (because apparently they take a beating by simply being used). Most services don’t take too long, but there is a wait time if you don’t use Kart Cash, the game’s premium currency that you’ll acquire in exchange for real world dollars. Upgrades, purchases, and services can all be done with Kart Cash as well, or can be done with Coins. The difference is that Coins are earned by completing mundane clicking and waiting tasks, while Cash gives immediate satisfaction for a price. It’s not a total turn off, and the game is playable without shelling out real coin instead of game coins, but expect some slight delays.
KartWorld isn’t too subtle about trying to get you to upgrade, either. There were popups after some races with some really fantastic illustrations of cars that would make even the most dedicated car lover drool. When you go to buy the four-wheeled temptation, it’s often a car that would take up a hefty portion of your budget–Unless, of course, you paid out of pocket for it. In general, it’s not a bad thing that these purchases are dangled, and the fact that they’re actually alluring speaks well to the fun to be had in the game. It just feels a little pushy sometimes.
The actual racing, when you get to it, is pretty fun. Most of the time you’ll take on challenges in the form of time trials. This will pit you up against a ghost car that has set a certain pace that you have to beat. You’ll get to trade paint with some actual opponents as well, which ups the ante even more.
Racing is controlled entirely with the mouse. Drag it in front of the car to go, and the further from the car the further the pedal is pressed toward the floor. Turns are done by simply leading the car with the cursor. It’s a simple system, but it can be difficult to master, as there are some subtleties to the handling. Taking a corner too fast will lead to burn outs, turning around your car and costing you all of the built up speed and momentum. These turnarounds also happen occasionally if there is a freeze-up or hiccup within the browser, which is beyond irritating–especially in close races.
The real appeal of racing comes in challenging friends. Whether it’s setting a record time and sending off a ghost to show your buddies how badly you can leave them in the dust or doing a multiplayer match that puts you on the track at the same time to duke it out for speedway supremacy, the bragging rights aspect is the real drive (no pun intended) of KartWorld. It’s a shame it requires some micromanagement in the garage to make racing more competitive.
The graphics of KartWorld go fairly cartoony, but it works with the mood of the game. The car models look great in the menu screens and not much detail is lost on the track. Perhaps the coolest thing is the paint job option that allows you to draw on your vehicle. It’s a nice feature that should impress those that like to stand out in the crowd, regardless of their place in the race. It’s sure to create some races against inappropriate images if you have friends with dirty minds, but creating the best (or most cleverly awful) patterned paint job can be a game all its own.
In general, KartWorld is an enjoyable experience. The garage aspect will do nothing for actual gear heads, as there’s no specific specs or actual tuning to be played with. The racing isn’t going to satisfy sim fans, but no one should be going into this game expecting that. When you have the chance to race, it’s a lot of fun and the quest system does a good job of putting players behind the wheel as often as possible. It’s just not the only aspect of the game, and while the racing is a considerable amount of fun, players will have to get some grease on their hands in the garage. Those moments don’t exactly slam the breaks, but they do bring the speedometer down a bit. It’d be nice to just hop into KartWorld with some friends and race but like real life, the cars in game require maintenance. It’d just be nice to escape that and drive.