Archive for October, 2014

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Growing up the Mario Kart series has always kept my friends and I busy for hours, I’ve bought every Mario Kart for that reason alone. Mario Kart 8 promised to add more dimension and features to what was generally a great game, and that got me excited, especially coming off of Mario Kart Wii which felt really empty to me. Loading the game up for the first time everything looked great, there were a few game modes, a decent amount of characters to choose from and a bunch to unlock, using the Wii U gamepad looked and felt great, though the graphics started to look a bit more pixelated as I got to the characters.

There are 4 main game modes to choose from, Single player mode includes Grand Prix which is the basic Cup mode found in all Mario Kart games, you’ll have your choice of three difficulties 50CC, 100CC, and 150CC, you play in a 4-Cup series in which winning will earn you a gold trophy for that difficulty and for that Cup Series. Each Cup Series on each difficulty has it’s own separate trophy, there are 8 Cups to choose from, well unless you pre-order two games, but I’ll get to that later. Single player also includes, Time Trials, Vs Race, and Battle Mode. The three other modes are multiplayer, online- one player, and online two-player, multiplayer allows you to play with and compete with your friends split screen, the online modes are really competitive and not everyone will be able to jump right in without knowing all of the tracks well.
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Once you choose your game mode and set of races, you’ll get to choose your character, they start you with characters you’d expect like Mario, Luigi, Peach, Daisy, Wario and so on, and you’ll get to pick your kart, but this has more features than usual. You’ll have the ability to change the body, tires and glider or parachute if you prefer, each part has different features for every character, so you’ll have to mess around with them. To earn parts for your karts you’ll have to win races, cups and race challenges, a lot of features really add to the game. You’ll earn characters the same way, but to me the characters you’ll unlock are really underwhelming, they’re the typical background characters, and very few of the characters I ended up wanting to use, though there are quite a few characters to choose from.
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The racing in this game is done pretty well if you are accustom to the style of racing, as MK8 relies heavily on power sliding boosts, meaning you will need to slide around each corner and snake back and forth for extended boosts, and you’ll need to draft. Drafting requires you to follow directly behind the opposing karts and use the the lack of air resistance to increase your speed, but it felt like the drafting boost lasted way too long at times and made it annoying on the last lap when someone passes you on the last straight away. The tracks are well done, there are 32 tracks to choose from, 16 classics from previous games and 16 new tracks, seeing the old tracks on the Wii U added to the overall feel of the game, they are a lot of fun to race with the new karts of MK8. The anti-gravity sections of the tracks added a bit of intensity and depth, and they looks very good. The problem with the tracks is you’ll need to find all of the short-cuts, because the opponents will know all of them, and at times it seemed like the CPU was driving over grass and deep mud at full speed without boosts.
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Weapons have always been a mainstay in Mario Kart and they added a few more weapons including the Special 8 weapon. This weapon gives you all of the weapons at once, but can be taken away if your opponents use the Shrink Bolt or anything else that normally would make you drop your weapons, so it is best to use them all as fast as possible. Red shells are more deadly than usual as they can follow you over ramps and can hit you in the air, this felt cheap in so many cases, especially when you’re over a gap. One big thing that Mario Kart 8 did fix is the time it takes to get back on the track if you fall off, you’re immediately caught and placed back on the track without almost any delay, making the weapon battles fast paced and intense. Aside from a few weapon glitches they as always add a lot of fun to the game, it’s always nice getting the weapon that will get you into first, or allow you to get revenge on someone who hit you. There are coins on the track, when you have 10 at once it will make your kart faster and your weapons better, which can give you an advantage when the race has a close finish.

MK8 is great in many ways, but there is just so little here to keep me playing. The game feels unfinished and in many ways bland. If you like doing single races it is not so bad, but if you like playing through the Cups there are only 8 Cups with 4 tracks in each. The tracks are not overly long so you can quickly rush through them all, especially once you get used to tracks and know all the short cuts. There is a stats screen but it’s very basic, it’s only one page and has a few racing stats. There are a few game modes but most are short and don’t have much to them, there are 32 tracks but all are short and all can be raced in one sitting. In order to get the last 4 Cups and 6 characters you have to pre-order two specific Wii U games, most of the characters and tracks should have already been added to the main game, it’s a nuisance if you don’t plan on getting those games. The game relies way too heavily on power sliding and drafting, you will need to do it or you won’t get very far outside of 50CC, and even then you’ll have opponents on you at all times. It just ended up being really frustrating when the cpu is passing me after I used multiple speed bursts because they were drafting me the whole time. It seems in multiplayer if one person is doing good the other player is getting hit by everything, it seems to prevent you at times from dominating the race.

MK8 is a great game if you plan on playing it online or with friends, the new tracks are neat and there is a bit of depth to them, but there is not much depth outside of that. If you love the Mario Kart series then chances are you’ll like MK8, but if you are looking for a full depth racer, this probably is not the game for you. The blend of old and new tracks is a nice feature and being able to somewhat customize the karts feels a bit better than previous games, but I could not feel like there really is not much to this game aside from a few gimmicks here and there. MK8 does many things well and is a great game on the Wii U, but unless you’re a huge Mario Kart fan this game is not worth the full price.

Overall Score: 8/10

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