VR Karts

Posted February 12, 2015 by in All

All Demos: ,
 
 
 
 
Developer: ViewPoint Games
 
Demo Release Date: 02/02/2015
 
Version: 0.1
 
Type: Karting
 
Platform: PC
 
HMD: Oculus Rift DK2
 
Download: Click Here
 
Control Schemes: Xbox Controller
 

Best Part:

Finally, a playable Karting game, with lovely visuals, for the Rift!
 

Worst Part:

Lacks gameplay depth at present
 
Bottom Line

VR Karts will still need to develop a well balanced array of weapons, and nuanced racing techniques, if it hopes to become the definitive VR Karting game.

Rating

Graphics
 
 
 
 
 


Sound
 
 
 
 
 


Controls
 
 
 
 
 


Gameplay
 
 
 
 
 


Comfort Level
 
 
 
 
 


Immersion
 
 
 
 
 


Total Score
 
 
 
 
 

3.5/ 5

by Edmund
Full Article

Once I discovered MarioKart, at the age of about 10, that was pretty much it for me and realistic or simulator style racing games.

Karting games just provided so much more direct multiplayer interaction through their use of power-ups. Colourful and imaginative track  design, featuring difficult to pulloff short-cuts, also make for a vibrant metagame. While a lot of racing games require all competitors to have a comparable level of skill, Karting games’ auto-balancing features, like the Blue Shell, make play more welcoming to newcomers.

vr karts 1Last year, Ben, also known as forum user ApexStudios, put out a couple of recreations of MarioKart levels for the Rift. Whilst these were devoid of any other racers or power-ups, they at least proved that the idea of a Karting game for VR was almost certainly a very good one – with all the same kinaesthetic benefits of a cockpit game or driving sim.

VR Karts, by Viewpoint games, is an original karting game designed exclusively for the Rift, and while it naturally sports no affiliation with the classic Nintendo title, it does very much retain the MarioKart aesthetic. With its music, rainbows and castles you’d certainly be forgiven for mistaking it for the real thing, at least at a glance.

VR Karts’ helmeted drivers don’t have as much character as the Mario pantheon, of course, but I do love the cartoon style and the kart design itself. I like having to use my wing mirrors, and I like that your position in the race is located on trackside signs, rather than as permanent UI elements.  The cartoony style makes for quite a comfortable experience, although getting buffeted about by other drivers can be a bit disconcerting – and perhaps could do with being telegraphed a little more.

vr karts 2The menu system and post race results lobby are functional for VR and cool, although the character on t he TV screen does become irritating after several plays. The fact that I suffered through it a dozen or so times does say something for the fun experience of the core game, I suppose.

As this is a Karting game, there obviously are weapons, or rather a weapon, which is used by holding the fire button and releasing when you’re looking directly at your target. As a control scheme this works OK, but there is something not-completely satisfying about releasing a button, rather than pushing it, to fire a weapon and there definitely needs to be more visual feedback for a successful hit.

As this is just an early-look demo, only one single-player race is available so naturally it is missing out on the vibrancy that makes MarioKart infinitely replayable. But even beyond adding more tracks and multiplayer, VR Karts still has a lot more core design work to do:

  • There is only one weapon type. Right now there doesn’t seem to be any counter-play to the weapon – that is, once you are targeted there is no way to avoid being hit.
  • Riding over the boosts doesn’t give you a boost ability to use at opportune moments, but rather increases your max speed, which I feel reduces the amount of meaningful decisions to make as a driver.
  • vr karts 3The racing itself is also fairly basic – at present its pretty much hold down accelerate and steer left or right. There’s nothing wrong with simplicity but simplicity without any higher-level systems makes for pretty static races. It lacks features like power-slides, handbrake turns or slipstreaming which contribute to more dynamic races, particularly at a higher level.
  • Finally, without any auto-balancing mechanisms, through power-ups for example, it is remarkably difficult to come back, if you’ve been knocked off the track by one of the other racers – and invariably first place gets way ahead and your tools with which to counter this are far too limited

Of course, as I said before, this version is just a demonstration of the building blocks – and while these are strong – it looks great and handles well, if simply – VR Karts will still need to develop a well balanced array of weapons, and nuanced racing techniques, if it hopes to become the definitive VR Karting game. I do hope that it gets there for its full release.

Download Here

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About the Author

Edmund

Edmund Ward is a philosophy graduate who has focused on aesthetics and cultural critique in the information age. He grew up with 'the dream of the holodeck' and is prone to get very excited by new innovations in natural user-interfaces. Edmund is currently looking for volunteers to look after the glucose drip that will sustain his "fleshform" (as he insists on calling it) when he migrates permanently to VR.

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