Anyone Who's Ever Been Karting will know that unless you're an anorexic midget with an aerodynamic face and a penchant for curry, you can kiss the chance of spraying that bottle of Pomaigne over your colleagues forever. Call me just a bit pathetic, but every time I've actually been karting (and you can count the times on one hand) I've ended up getting in the slowest, naffest contraption ever to sit on four wheels, whose top speed is equivalent to that of an asthmatic ant, carrying a rather large bag of shopping and is desperate for the loo.
True, my experience of karting may not be an entirely accurate representation of the sport that started our Damon on the road to glory. The young Master Hill was not, by all accounts, a regular contender at any of the numerous karting establishments dotted about the M25. No doubt if he had been, he would have huffed a bit, tried to bob up and down in his seat in an effort to propel his kart forward at a greater velocity. And, realising that his efforts were futile and that his kart was about as speedy as the aforementioned insect, decided to never waste his time karting ever again and take up golf or knitting instead (despite having a rather famous racing father and possessing one of the most aerodynamic noses in racing history). Then our last champion would have been James Hunt (who, coincidentally, also had a rather large hooter), a man who wore extremely large, brown flared trousers and drove an Austin A30 on his days off. Not very 90s at all really.
But it's not really like that!
Thankfully, real karting (or so I'm told) is not like this - it's much faster, and this is why it's a breeding ground for budding Ft champions like our Damon. According to those in the know (who race these things for real), those asthmatic contraptions you get lumbered with on Southend Pier and the environs of the M25 are nothing like the karts found at real karting events. No way, these babies can reach speeds of over toomph, even if you don't look like a Neanderthal man. Obviously, it helps if your nose is of a similar aerodynamic shape, but when you consider that your average family hatchback struggles to make it past 90 (with or without a roof rack), and you actually sit about an inch off the ground, you can understand why people get hooked. The simple fact of the matter is speed is thrilling; speed is addictive and any game that can convey a similar feeling via a pc is bound to be a success. Well that's what MicroProse thinks anyway, and when you see what it's done with Virtual Karts, you can see it has a point. This game is very addictive, and it's addictive because it's so damn fast and easy to get into. Think hi-res texture-mapped road courses, karts, landscapes and people; network play and a fully customisable kart; think multiple camera angles, and you've got a good idea what Virtual Karts is all about.
"Hang on a mo! That sounds just a bit like SuperKarts," I hear you cry. Well, yes I suppose it does, just a bit. But whereas SuperKarts is best described as an arcade experience, Virtual Karts is more of an easy-to-play sim. For starters, you'll be able to deck your kart up however you like before you race (i.e. modify the tyres, chassis, gearing or motor), which will not only give you more control over what you're driving, but introduce an element of strategy and tactics, too.
There's also going to be the option to practice or take part in a single race on any given track or compete in the Grand Championship over numerous courses.
To put it bluntly, it's a more grownup affair that benefits from not paying lip service to the console-clones, which means there's not a power-up or cliched cartoon racer in sight. And of course, its got that "grab you by the gonads", super-speed addictiveness quality that keeps you coming back for more. That's enough to keep any adrenaline junky happy, but you'll have to wait until October before you can get into the driving seat and take it for a spin yourself.
Download Virtual Karts
PC compatible, P-100
Systems: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game features:Single game mode