KartRider Rush+ Review – A Nice Addition to Mobile Racing

    Title: KartRider Rush+
    Developer: Nexon
    Release Date: May 12, 2020
    Reviewed On: iOS
    Publisher: Nexon
    Genre: Racing

Great kart racers are few and far between and very seldom do we even see releases in the genre thanks to the tycoon that is Mario Kart. However,  Nexon aims to capture the experience in the mobile space with KartRider Rush+. No, it’s not perfect, but it accomplishes a lot of what others lack. There’s a competitive level of gameplay engrained in the title that makes it more engaging to hardcore fans, but yet offers simple mechanics that make it approachable to new players.

KartRider Rush+ excels in its driving mechanics that rival some console games out there. To make things mobile-friendly, you don’t have to control the actual speed. Instead, you control the steering and drifts into each turn. Drifting will fill up your NOS meter that provides you with a considerable speed boost.

I know this sounds simple in concept, but the courses offer enough obstacles that make it rather engaging. Other gameplay features like tapping your screen repeatedly or pulling off a successful drift can give you a mini boost to get ahead in a race. Drifting in the game comes with practice and feels exceptionally satisfying when you successfully pull off a tight turn. However, this becomes easier to get the hang of after understanding the angles of the corners across the various courses available.

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There are plenty of opportunities to practice your drifting skills during the numerous game modes KartRider Rush+ has to offer. The modes that provide the most competitive experience are the Speed Race and Ranked Modes. These races pit you against seven other racers trying to finish the race first.

One gripe I have with these modes is that it’s tough to tell who’s a bot or a real player. One match will have all eight of us being “try hards” to be first where it’s almost neck and neck between everyone. While other races will have me easily breeze past my opponents. Still, the lobbies make it clear that there are at least a few human opponents in a match.

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There are also additional modes like Arcade, 4v4 Teams, Time Trial, License Tests to unlock more tracks, and a Story mode. However, don’t expect the story mode to be too in-depth. It’s just a cute campaign where you learn more about the racers and try to stop this evil pirate. You’ll get rewards for playing through it, so that’s a plus.

There’s also a “Mentor” program, which I, unfortunately, haven’t been able to make too much use of. After looking into this mode, I can send applications to more veteran players to be taken under their wing, so to speak. You can do races with them to complete co-op type of challenges, but I think they have to be online. I never was able to get into a game with my mentor since they were on at weird times. The concept is really cool, but it never really worked for me.

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Even with all the different ways to play, I’m not pleased that I ran into pay-to-win issues. There are different karts in the game, all with varying stats. You start off with a “practice kart,” which is serviceable enough. But I saw plenty of other players with some of the best karts in the game. Even though buying one of these karts with your actual money isn’t terribly expensive, I wasn’t a fan of the fact that free-to-play players would be at an inherent disadvantage in online matches, no matter how long you played.

You could buy quite a few of these karts with in-game currency, but from what I could tell, it would take an extremely long time to save up to get one. KartRider Rush+ balances this out to an extent by allowing you trial runs of these premium karts. You can get the trials through rewards or buying the trial. I did a few ranked matches with the practice kart, and it was challenging to remain in the top three against others with better karts. But even then, I noticed skill level does come into play during some moments of the course.

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One race, in particular, had three players with tricked out karts, but I was able to beat them with my basic skin practice kart. This had to do with how we were on a track that I’ve played a few times and was pretty familiar with. While we were all neck and neck throughout the race, they ended up crashing into the walls on key turns, leaving me to finish first.

So this goes back to an old argument of mine – it doesn’t matter how much money you put into a game if you haven’t learned its basics. Sure, there will still be a lot of people who are good at the game and will pay a pretty penny for the best karts.  Given that you are able to boost some other general stats of your kart and racer without having to buy anything out of pocket makes this easier to manage. However, the problem is, they take a long time to accumulate.

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KartRider Rush+ presents a racing experience that’s been profoundly lacking on mobile devices. It’s packed with great courses and challenging gameplay fueled by a truckload of content to unlock. Still, you can expect to find pay-to-win systems. This sadly hurts the game’s free-to-play model, which drifts heavily towards those who pay for a head start.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Brock Jensen

Saebyeolbe is the Tom Brady of Overwatch. MOBILE GAMERS ARE STILL GAMERS. Send me stuff [email protected]