Schumacher Racing World
by JoWooD Productions
Kart games, for one reason or another, have never really taken off on the PC. The main reason for this lack of success could be attributed to the success of Formula 1 games on the PC. Formula 1 is far more glitzy and appealing to the public and if you think about it most of the Formula 1 drivers are household names but how many Kart drivers can you name? In an unlikely twist what we have here is a Kart name endorsed by the present champion of Formula 1, Michael Schumacher. Let's take a look to see if we have a Kart title that will impress.
The game consists of a Training, Time Trial and Championship mode. In each mode you have to progress through FUN, ICA and FSA categories. These stages offer different speed karts that begin with the 100cc karts in the FUN category and end with the 150cc in the FSA category. In order to progress from one category to another you have to satisfy the necessary requirements.
Training isn't training at all really. What it involves is you beating the ghost racer. When you've beaten the ghost racer on all three of the FUN circuits then you'll open up the ICA category. Here you have to defeat the ghost racers on the six tracks that are available although here you are driving a 125cc kart and these are far quicker than the 100cc karts. After you've beaten these it's on to the FSA tracks to beat the ghost racers there too.
Time Trial is all about setting lap records but the real action is the Championship mode. In Championship mode you begin with the 100cc karts in the FUN category and have to amass 24 points over the 3 races in order to unlock the ICA category. You get 10 points for winning and 6 points for coming second so as you can see you're going to need to finish first twice and at least second on the other occasion. Should you fail you can race any race you wish again and the races can be performed in any order. When you progress to the ICA category you need to pick up 42 points to unlock the FSA category. Whereas the FUN races are fairly easy to win the ICA races are far more competitive. This is down to more demanding circuits, quicker karts and a touch more aggressive AI drivers.
Visually the game, while not stunning is OK. The frame rate is excellent and there is a good sensation of speed. You really can feel the difference between the different speed karts.
There is no speech in the game and all instructions are given in text only. Apart from the music, which can be turned off, there are only the kart engine noises that a deaf gamer will miss. The game does include force feedback and if you're lucky enough to have a steering wheel that has force feedback then this will help compensate for the lack of engine noise. Unfortunately our wheel doesn't have force feedback so we can't comment on the quality of this feature.
Overall the game looks and plays quite well but there are a couple of points that do let the title down. First and foremost the major problem is that you can't race online, although you can enter your fast lap times in a kind of ranking system. This title would have been perfect to play online but without the option to even race over a LAN you have to question the replay value when you've completed all the races, which isn't going to take too long. Secondly you can't modify your kart. We're not exactly asking for the Gran Turismo of the Kart racing genre but some modification would have been nice. Finally there is no way you can setup a split axis control for your steering wheel pedals. You are stuck with combined axis control (you can't control the brake and accelerator independent of each other like you would in a car or kart) and this is going to deter those who wanted a kart simulation.
Overall Game Rating: 6.0/10 Whilst Michael Schumacher Kart 2002 is quite a good kart game it lacks features that would have helped sustain the gameplay. Without the ability to race online, customise your kart or even design your own circuit you're forced to rely on the single player mode and whilst this is enjoyable, it is too short lived.
Deaf Gamers comment: No problems really. The lack of engine noise could be compensated for if you have a wheel with force feedback.