When I saw the first images of Grand Theft Auto Online’s new Kart Krash mode, I was intrigued. It looked like Rockstar’s take on a kart racer, poised to infuse Los Santos with some outlandish fun. Sadly, while this new mode does feature karts and power-ups, it’s not about racing, but instead about fighting in go-kart deathmatches. So it’s like Mario Kart’s Battle Mode, but the shitty one from Mario Kart 8 on Wii U.
Go-karts were added to GTA Online last year during the large Cayo Perico Heist update. This new mode takes these tiny, speedy vehicles, tosses in some zany power-ups, and creates a whole competitive deathmatch around them. Sounds fun in theory, right? Up to eight players enter and try to kill each other until only one player remains. You can play Kart Krash either in teams or an all-out free-for-all. As with most GTA Online modes you can change some settings, like how many times people can respawn after being killed. I’d recommend a low number so it’ll all be over faster.
The major problem with Kart Krash is that driving these go-karts around sucks. In a game like Mario Kart, the karts don’t feel sluggish or floaty. They feel like controllable bundles of speed and agility. In GTA Online, the go-karts suck. They are prone to flipping over, don’t go very fast, are awkward to steer, and just feel awful to drive. When the core gameplay in your new mode sucks, it doesn’t matter what else you add to the mix. The end result is the same: A bad time. (It’s strange that these go-karts suck so much considering they each cost over $875K.)
In a world where these go-karts were actually fun to drive, this mode could have been cool. Some of the power-ups Rockstar created are a blast to use. Sure, you get standard things that you’d expect, like rockets, shields, and mines. But there are some more exciting options too, like a power-up turns you into a giant monster truck that can easily crush small go-karts and shove them out of the way. The levels Rockstar created for this new mode are also decent, with a nice mix of ramps, death pits, and escape routes. It’s just a shame the go-karts are awful, hard-to-drive machines. Most battles in Kart Krash end up being two or three karts just circling each other until someone gets bored, fires a power-up, or crashes into a wall or pit.
My prediction is that this mode, along with some other stinkers from the last few years of GTA Online updates, will become a ghost town once the temporary 2XP cash and RP disappear next week.