Sunday, April 26, 2015

DLC review: Mario Kart 8 - Animal Crossing X Mario Kart 8

The second DLC pack for Mario Kart 8 has arrived, bringing with it eight new courses spread across two Grand Prix cups, three new racers, and a handful of new vehicle customization options. Following in the footsteps of the first DLC pack, this latest offering sees the inhabitants of the Mushroom Kingdom open up their roster to accommodate for the Villagers and Isabelle from Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Leaf. The majority of the vehicle options are similarly reflective of the Animal Crossing image, while the skeletal Dry Bowser is an outlier – a reskin of the Koopa king that presents more creativity in aesthetic appeal than the previously-released Tanooki Mario or Cat Suit Peach did.

And while all of these are fine additions to Mario Kart 8, the real meat of the DLC pack comes from the race tracks themselves. Half of the courses are reimaginings of courses that debuted in previous Mario Kart titles, while the other half are brand new. Two of the reimagined courses have Gameboy Advance origins, and boast the most obvious updates, both in terms of visual prowess and dynamic layout. As has been the case from the day of its release, Mario Kart 8 remains one of the most visually gorgeous games of this eighth console generation, and the pure variety of environments within this DLC pack continue that trend. From a massive playroom where your kart appears to be a shrunken toy, to graffiti-covered subway tunnels, to the winding breakneck turns of the hyper-futuristic Big Blue, there are plenty of impressive little details to take in.

Distinct about the Animal Crossing X Mario Kart 8 pack is the overall more consistent length and quality of the eight tracks when compared to its Legend of Zelda-themed predecessor. Nearly every course makes use of multiple vehicle transformations, something that, once again, could not be said about almost half of the courses within the first DLC pack. The drawback, however, is the fact that there are fewer standout tracks from this latest batch. The Animal Crossing course is relatively straightforward in design, and while the changing of seasons is a neat afterthought, its environmental hazards and visual 'wow-factor' pale in comparison to Hyrule Circuit. With that said, this is still a solid DLC pack that provides quite a lot of bang for your buck. The courses each offer decent degrees of challenge, and revisiting them can drastically improve your finishing time.

My rating: 7.5 (out of 10)*

*(rating applies solely to downloadable content, not its inclusion with the content on the original game disc or other downloadable content)

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