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Touring Karts is a colourful kart racer that has you speeding about comical and exaggerated tracks based on many locations around the world.
Being a racing game Touring Karts is very easy to get to grips with, especially if you play with the DualShock controller though there are a number of other control schemes you can choose from including using racing wheels and even the PlayStation Rudder accessory. Personally only having either a DualShock or Move Controllers to choose from, I can’t say what the other control schemes are like to play with but I can say that with a regular controller things perform about as smoothly as you might expect, with the minor caveat that you might be tempted to press circle to use your weapons and find that button operates the manual reset. The Move Controllers on the other hand take some getting used to since you’ll have to use one to steer the car and the other to pick items out of the air and throw them. If you decide to go with the standard controller, you can opt to use motion controls but only if you’re playing in VR, also you can’t use Move Controllers unless you’re playing in VR. One annoying thing about the way the game is set up is that I didn’t see any option to be able to change which controls I was using mid play so I had to close the game and re-open it again, the same goes for swapping between using the VR headset and not as well.
There’s a good deal of variation in the tracks and there’s a hefty number of them to choose from as well providing you’ve unlocked them, you can unlock the tracks through playing by completing challenges or you can use the in game money you’ve earned to buy them. Each track has three cups to complete; normal, hard and professional with the harder difficulties granting better rewards, the multiplayer portion of the game has a fourth cup for each track but since I’m currently not a member of PlayStation Plus I wasn’t able to try out those races. Each race you take part in, so long as it’s not a quick race, has a couple of challenges you can complete that will award you with coins to use in a little slot machine, the slot machine will give you rank up rewards, new tracks, customisation items, etc. Some of these challenges can be quite tricky to do since some might want you to complete perfect laps by not crashing or have you hit a certain number of other racers with a particular item, they are for the most part, easily accomplished but I had one that wanted me to get hit by another racer with a specific weapon and after quite a lot of races it didn’t seem like it was ever going to happen but luckily you only have to complete one of the challenges to cash in and load up the next couple.
As you might expect if you’ve played any other kind of kart racer, there are a lot of weapons littering the tracks to help you gain an advantage over your racing rivals, there are however a couple of things that Touring Karts does differently. The first of these is that as you race about and collect weapons you can either use it immediately or you can carry it around with you for a bit into the next batch of items and combine it with the next thing that you pick up, it means that you can upgrade your arsenal and hopefully gain an even bigger advantage, the second thing Touring Karts does differently is to give you a speed bonus that stacks into a turbo boost for every successful hit on an opponent. There’s a lot of combo items to find and they’re all shown on a big screen to help indicate what you’ve done and what’s left to combine, if you’re interested in having a try at using all of them. While there’s a good deal of them available though, you’ll probably find that for the most part unless you actively seek out specific combination you’ll just keep ending up with the same few weapons and they all seem to perform in similar ways.
Initially it can be quite hard to win, especially if you haven’t got the hang of the Move controllers yet, since it seems like the other racers are just as fast if not faster than you are despite any obstacles you put in their way and even though there’s a good selection of cars to choose from, it doesn’t really seem to make much of a difference on your speed. You can customise your cars but it’s mostly just for cosmetic things, such as adding bits to your car or allowing you to change the sound of the horn but there is a performance option at the bottom you can invest in with your in game money that will speed things up a bit. The tracks can also take some getting used to as there are a lot of hazards and tight turns to learn, some tracks have giant things banging on the ground that will make your car bounce into the air and even skid out and that’s only if you’re lucky enough to avoid them, if not you’ll get flattened. As well as that, there are sometimes enormous monkeys who’ll throw random debris onto the track which can be quite hard to avoid, especially the big charging chickens and if all that wasn’t bad enough, there are also random shifts in the tracks that raise and lower certain sections and boost pads that come and go as well. There’s also boost pads that will give you a big jump to catch up with the rest of the pack but you have to remain on your guard at all times because the other racers can use them too.
Touring Karts is a fun game to play and it’s always nice to have another decent kart racer to play, but where it really shines is when you play it in VR, it feels so much more involved since you can freely look around and see everything up close as well as reach up and grab the items and fling them around yourself, as opposed to the DualShock control scheme where you have to use the right stick to throw your items. Having said that though, I did find it incredibly difficult to win while playing with the Moves so I spent most of my time playing in VR with the standard controller. When you’re playing in VR you also have the ability to switch to a view where it looks like you’re sitting in an arcade machine and I thought that was a nice touch, though any items you pick up do still appear in your hand rather than in the hand of the character on your little virtual arcade machine.
One downside is that the tracks are a little on the short side so you never really get to exercise your racing muscles because just as you get into a groove, the race is over. I found that the tracks are also packed a little too tightly so be prepared to be bumping and banging into the other racers a lot of the time, there was even more than one occasion where I’d attack an enemy right before the finish line and end up accidentally bumping them over into first place since my view was obscured by smoke effects. All in all it’s a nice little game and for those of you who are big into collecting trophies, the journey to the platinum will only require you to discover all of the different weapon combinations, something I managed in a couple of short hours.
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