Hot off the press, a.k.a, my sexy fingertips: Disney Speedstorm has been released today in Early Access, and I cannot say enough good stuff about it, literally recommending it to everyone who knows what video games are, even comparing it to Mario Kart. No, you di’ n’t. Yeah, I did.
How on Earth can anything compare to Mario Kart? Well, knock it off the pedestal – it isn’t untouchable – irrespective of your renewed love for all things Nintendo and the Italian plumber, the folk behind it know a thing or two about Disney and driving. Yes, Gameloft is behind the rather excellent Disney Dreamlight Valley and the Asphalt series. They know their onions.
Instead of being a carbon copy of Nintendo’s flagship racer, it does its own thing, notably drawing upon the everlasting upgrade system seen in Asphalt and perhaps even Fortnite, albeit without the paywall. With a decent selection of drivers from the outset, Disney Speedstorm isn’t just one to watch but one to invest in now and, more importantly, play.
Ok, there’s no new ground here to cover with anything like a story – it’s a racing game. Still, there are loads of modes and features to keep you busy and seriously addicted to it. I played again for “10 minutes”, which ended up being a few hours and a late night. It was totally worth it. Not only did I unlock Mike Wazowski, but I maxed him out to level 15 in a very short space of time.
That’s right – you have to unlock a lot of characters. Kindly provided a review code, I got the Deluxe Edition which allowed me to pick a new character from the outset. One of my favourite Disney characters is Baloo, and there was no hesitation in securing his services. Great. Let’s race! Ah… but being a big ol’ bear, he was pretty slow (as was Sully), and what was this about ‘Defender’?
Despite saying that Disney Speedstorm doesn’t cover new ground, I’ll have to backtrack and say it does, as there are driver classes. Those included are speedsters, defenders, tricksters, brawlers and… was there another? They’re somewhat self-explanatory in terms of their style, but each has a selection of abilities and specials specific to them – i.e. the speedster is super speedy (duh), and the defender is more likely to get defensive items and benefits from slipstreaming other players.
Besides turning left and right, accelerating and braking, and having a boost on command (cooldown-based), the cars can drift like Donkey Kong and crew and use items against other players. After all, it’s a combat racer. Items include projectiles that can be fired both forwards and back, shields, boosts, a trick that shifts the controls for players forcing them to crash, plus more. Additionally, you can hold down the weapon buttons and charge an item for a more devastating effect or use a character’s signature move that could be anything from teleportation to temporary invulnerability. The list goes on.
Both characters and modes can be unlocked. To begin with, there are a handful of chapters in the Starter Circuit that earn new characters and gear. Progress through this, and you unlock Ranked and Regulated Multiplayer modes, Local Freeplay, a Private Track option to make your own races, Season Tour, and Limited Events. At the time of playing and writing this preview, the online multiplayer wasn’t an option. The modes should be straightforward enough, but to speed up this post, the Season Tour is essentially the campaign where you earn XP to buy customisation options for your racers and their vehicles, and Limited Events does a similar thing where you have to complete challenges to achieve some upgrades.
Disney Speedstorm also has a Shop mode where you can upgrade your character (you have to collect shards), items that update your driver level, which is required for certain stages, and many other cosmetics such as new vehicle colours and wheels, spoilers and racing suits. Finally, and I’m sure I’ve missed something, there are Crew options where you can assign various boosts to your driver (also upgradeable), improving acceleration, top speed, handling and more. These really are game-changers.
Let’s wrap this up as this isn’t a full Disney Speedstorm review as it’s Early Access. I have experienced about two or three crashes with the PS5 build, but other than that, it’s bloody brilliant, and I can’t stop playing. As I said with Disney Dreamlight Valley, I’m not a Disney fan, but this is fantastic – especially if you enjoy Asphalt as I have. My only negative is that the music, Disney-inspired dance tracks, is rubbish. Everything else? Marvellous. Go get it for PC or console, you fools.