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Score: 5.9 / 10
Furious Karting has its heart in the right
place but stops short of being a must-play title. If you’re a karting
fan you’ll appreciate the solid kart and track physics – of course,
Furious Karting (FK) is the only kart racer on the Xbox.
First and foremost, this is the easiest game I’ve played for Xbox.
Gaining and maintaining the lead is so easy that the only race I
completely blew was due to a sneezing fit. The AI is a pushover even
racing against the more “challenging” characters even in Pro and
SuperKart circuits. I'm no gaming god, farthest thing from it, so
there's really no other explanation as to why I breezed through. (Human
opponents are way more challenging, of course.) It doesn’t help that the
courses are all relatively short, even in comparison to the classic
Mario Kart series. So not
The track layouts aren’t just short, they aren’t as various as you’d
expect. There are a handful of environments to race in, with various
tracks – marked by arrows and pylons – to conquer. Even so, they must be
unlocked by progressing through Scenario mode to make them available
during multiplayer races. More variety, more
fantasy in the locales would have been welcomed.
The Scenario mode actually adds something to the game (and a bit of
replayability). You’re recruited to join a group of kart racers and soap
opera fare ensues – this is no “save the world” excursion but it does
offer some reward for finishing well. And it does give you the basics of
controlling your driver and a chance to unlock more powerful karts. Some
will gripe about the coaches though. During some races if their
instructions aren't followed to the letter, you're screwed.
The control itself is first-rate – even young gamers will have no
problems. But even they’ll ask why FK includes the ability to perform
flips. Or why the boost power-up fails to actually make you feel like
you’re moving faster. Or why there is such a lack of variety with the
The flips seem to do nothing more than screw you up. Not landing
perfectly – and I do mean perfectly – you’ll find yourself bouncing
around. Logic dictates that a nitro-boost will speed you up
significantly. Not so with those found in FK where the increase in speed
is barely noticeable. A real beef is the lack of variety in on-track
power-ups. There are a total of six items that can be collected: Nitro,
blast (great acceleration), red smoke, oil, flammable glue, and chicken.
There’s some creativity with the last two items but with today’s
technology and storage capacity six just isn’t enough. (Granted, there
are three power levels for these power-ups but it doesn’t seem to make
much difference.) In a salute to the classic Road Rash, FK allows you to
crack opponents with a bat during the race, making the power-ups even
more pointless. Why try to line up an opponent to lob a smoke bomb when
you can pull alongside and wail on them?
On the plus side, FK features limited kart modification that actually
does affect kart handling. FK also takes into account driver attributes:
speed, karma, and fun. (That's right, fun.) But these seem to have less
impact on the racing even as they increase over time and as you perform
well during races.
Furious Karting has the attitude to be a serious kart game but it just
doesn’t have enough – not enough tracks, power-ups, challenge or fun.
Hopefully, we’ll see better results with any sequels because the
technical groundwork (the kart physics) is already here.