KartKraft Review: A visceral experience

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After more than three years in early access on Steam, the most unique sim on the market, KartKraft, has finally received a full release.

The title, developed and published by Motorsport Games, offers kart racing pure and simple. Now we've seen karts available in everything from GTA Online to Automobilista, but no one has focused so strictly on recreating the raw and visceral nature of karting.

So is the game worth your hard-earned money? Let's find out!

EDITOR'S PICK: LOGITECH G923 RACING WHEEL

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Review was conducted with Fanatec GT DD Pro wheel, review copy was provided by publisher

Table of Contents

Getting ready to go

KartKraft starts by having you select your starting race suit, kart, and trackside tent. There's not a lot of choice and no customisation options, but that's karting!

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KartKraft vehicle
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PICK YOUR WEAPON: We went with the basic option first

We picked up a blue suit and the Arrow KA100 to get going, and then hit the track. Or we would have, but we had to spend some time binding our wheel controls. There was no automatic detection and setup to use.

Once that's done, it was out onto the track for some warmup laps!

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On-track experience

So much of karting comes through what you feel in the seat and the wheel. KartKraft obviously lacks one aspect of that, but the other is truly brilliant.

With a direct drive wheel, the kart feels alive in your hands. The steering is heavy, you're wrestling with the back end and begging it to not snap round on you.

KartKraft race 2
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FIGHTING THROUGH THE PACK: The indicators will let you know how busy it is around you

If you've never been karting before it will be a totally alien experience, but it feels just right.

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The kart is perhaps a bit snappier than you'd expect, but it is so much fun do drive. You get a real sense of speed in the faster karts and can immediately sense the loss of grip if you go take too much kerb or put a wheel on the grass.

It's a terrific racing experience too with solid AI competitors, even if the difficulty settings are on a step system rather than a sliding scale.

Grab your spanner

As you would expect from a sim racing title, the setup options have a lot of depth to them. However, unlike others they also give you some help!

Adjusting a kart setup is unlike anything else, and the menus have helpful guides about what moving each slider will do.

KartKraft setups
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KARTING 101: Motorsport Games has gone to pains to make sure players aren't left in the dark

This includes offering guidance on ideal warm tyre PSI so that you don't have to spend ages trying to figure out where the rubber is supposed to be when racing.

It's a breath of fresh air for a sim title to offer players a bit of help, and makes KartKraft more newbie-friendly than most other sim titles out there.

Barebones

Where KartKraft lacks is in the "game" side of the title. There's no career mode or anything like that, you just get a few basic modes. They are quick race, practice, time trial, and multiplayer.

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KartKraft race 1
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TAKE IT IN: Racing is intense in KartKraft

That may discourage some, but this title really is a simulation and not a game. You can go out and put some practice in with a type of kart and get familiar with what you need to do with setup, tyre conditions, and from corner to corner.

It's a game where community league racing is going to take off as opposed to solo play.

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Verdict

KartKraft is a lot of fun. It's the closest you can get to karting at home, all it's missing is a dodgy burger van and a cold, gusty wind.

You have to grip the wheel and push the kart into the corners, it's a title that rewards bravery too so you get that joy of success and misery of failure when you throw it into the tyre wall or spin out.

It's definitely a sim that makes you want to improve too. Karting has always been an instinctive style of racing, it's untamed and savage.

We can't wait to see the next steps for KartKraft and would recommend it for any racer out there.

RacingGames Rating: 8/10