All Star Fruit Racing Review
3D Clouds are an Italian 3D rendering design company and this is their first attempt at creating their own video game. It’s most definitely worth bearing this in mind as you read my review.
Since Mod Nation and Crash Team Racing on Playstation 3, there hasn’t been a massive amount of choice when it comes to kart racing on Playstation. There’s currently only a small handful of kart racers on PS4 for All Star Fruit Racing to contend with; Beach Buggy Racing and Bears Can’t Drift? both at £7.99, Coffin Dodgers at £9.49 and Obleteracers at £11.49. With ASFR coming in at a hefty £30, have 3D Clouds done enough to take first place and be PS4’s equivalent of Mario Kart? Let’s find out.
The kart racers I mentioned earlier increase in gaming quality and graphical fidelity in line with their respective prices so I was expecting ASFR to do the same. First impressions would seem to suggest not. Yes the graphical presentation is great (you can tell these guys’ day job is 3D rendering) but I was slightly underwhelmed for the first hour or so. Was I expecting too much?
As with most titles these days you can break a game down into two main areas, gameplay and graphics. Sometimes despite not looking great a game can do well because it is great fun to play. Alternatively a game can do well by not being that in depth or great to play but because it looks amazing. I must admit though, a game should always be good to play no matter how it looks. I mostly play AAA racing titles where there’s clear evidence a lot of time, money and effort has been poured into these games to create a very polished experience with a mixture of addictive gameplay and impressive graphics. This rewards me for parting with what can sometimes be a lot of hard-earned money. On the flip side there are a lot of smaller indy devs out there creating gaming masterpieces that don’t break the bank. Some of my favourite games on PS4 have been either less than the price of two pints of lager and a packet of crisps or free. So am I getting £30 worth of gaming experience with ASFR?
What we have here is something in between because with ASFR we have, in a nutshell, a great game that both looks good and plays well once you get past the slow starting tutorial stages.
The graphics are vivid, colourful and well animated. There are 22 different characters to choose from, all of which are drawn well and have their own style and look. The cars are all unique and look great. The frame rate is smooth throughout the game even when there’s a lot going on on-screen (even with 10 racers and track-side stuff going on too) There’s a good mix of differing race locations too, with the four seasons of Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring (as well as other unlockable tracks) giving us plenty of changes to locale to keep things fresh through all 21+ tracks!
The gameplay and variety are where this game shines. Gameplay wise ASFR is what you would expect from a kart racer. We’ve already mentioned the track locations but the actual races are a good mixture of twisty turns, gravity defying track directions and straights with jumps and obstacles to throw you off course. The tracks are littered with speed-boost pads next to said jumps and there is, as the name All Star Fruit Racing would imply, fruit. Collecting the pieces of fruit you’ll see strewn around on the track will fill up boost meters of which you have 4. Watermelon, cherry, kiwi and blackberry with the banana pieces attributing to all 4 meters at once. Once a meter is full you can use one of many, many power ups. You can even dictate which meter to use on the fly at the press of a button meaning of the 4 meters, you can switch any on or off enabling you to create a mass of different combinations or filling all 4 and releasing your chosen character’s special move. The powerups range from the standard ice-cubes and oil slicks on the track through speed boosts and shields to cherry-lasso bombs and banana rocket launchers and many more!
There are two main game sections, online and offline. Online you can either join a lobby or create your own and have up to 8 player races and championships customisable using all the available content. Offline has more options again where you can play through a career mode, race through pre-made championships or create your own all with customisable difficulty settings for AI and location. Race types include drag race, time attack, elimination events or standard circuit racing. Championships containing a mixture of all race types whether this be on or offline. And then the icing on the fruit-cake, split screen racing. You and up to three friends can battle it out on the same screen taking in all of the delights the offline section of the game has to offer. Coupled with the online mode, this is where ASFR really impresses. This is what kart racing is all about. A few mates round, some juice & nibbles and some great couch gaming.
The only potential let down is the audio. The main game music is standard and inoffensive and does a decent job while you’re meandering through the menus. The gameplay audio is somewhat lacking, the race music is flat and a little boring and only gets better when the tempo picks up toward the end of the race. The individual character audio is also a little flat and sparse throughout and the only saving grace is the well crafted array of different horns available for your kart. Tearing around the side of an active volcano tooting a cow moo horn is hilarious. For me though this doesn’t really affect the overall experience because whether I am racing online or offline with a couch-full of mates, I would have my own music playing through my PS4 anyway.
Smooth frame rate
Couch racing done right