Reviewed On: PlayStation 5
Also Available On: PS4, PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Nintendo Switch
Price: $29.99 (Standard Founder’s Pack), $49.99 (Deluxe F.P.), or $69.99 (Ultimate F.P.) – Digital Only
Release Date: April 18, 2023
Please Note: A review code was provided by Gameloft but does not influence opinions in this review.
I wanted to put this review out last week but thought I should give it a week to see what updates would occur for the game. As a kid that grew up in the late 90s, you had multiple options for television and movies, and one of the choices was Disney. I grew up on the upbeat Disney shows and Pixar movies. Disney has always had a place in my life, and even though there are issues with this generation of Disney in general, I still like some of what they are doing now. Disney Games have been a hit or miss for me in the past, but for this game, it seems promising for what they are trying to create; at least based on the first week of the game’s release.
In the game, there really isn’t a story to discuss. While there are ways that they could have made a simplistic story involving these characters, kart racers never really have a story. This is okay since the main focus, in my personal opinion, is to perfect the gameplay within a racing game, and Gameloft has done that very well. There are a few issues or concerns that I have, some are gripes, some are big issues. What makes this gameplay good overall though? Well, there is a lot to discuss between the single-player content and also multiplayer.
In order to unlock the Monsters Inc Season Tour, as Season One is dedicated to Monsters Inc, you have to complete some of the starter circuit missions. The main appeal of the Monsters Inc ones is that you can get racing shards for Mike and Sulley, and also other characters mixed in there as well. Besides getting these, you complete medals and challenges that help you get tokens, coins, and XP to get your gold pass up. They unlock one of these chapters per week, and then once you complete said chapter, you have to wait for the others to unlock. Waiting a week is a bit much, but there’s enough to keep you entertained for maybe a couple of hours a day with other single-player and multiplayer activities.
Besides the Monsters Inc Season Tour, the starter circuit is available with specific characters that require you to use multiple characters at different levels. In order to play these ones, you have to have certain characters unlocked. Thankfully, you get Mickey and Donald automatically when starting the game once you get the founder’s pack and once you get these two characters, you can get the Season Tour unlocked by completing their mission within the game. Besides these two things, you have access to limited events, seasonal events, more challenges, and of course, the multiplayer.
There are lots of ways to enjoy the multiplayer mode with other people. On PS5, one of the features that I think help this game is the ability to share-play with friends who also have PS+ and play the game with them, even if they don’t own the title. This is pictured below and it looks really well and played great when I tested it with someone who doesn’t own it. The other way is to do Ranked Multiplayer which pits you against both real players and also bots on occasion as well. The problem I have here is that each character has their own rank level that rewards you with upgradable parts or racer shards, but getting some of these will be a nightmare. Some of the characters are slower than others online and if you lose, your ranking will naturally decrease. Some of the characters are way better than others, especially Mike with his special ability. The single-player wants you to focus on all of the characters since you never know who you will need when, but the multiplayer wants you to focus on one or two characters from the way it looks at the moment.
Here is the part that is a bit of a grind so far. In order to rank up your racers, you need to get both their level and also their star rank up. In order to get their star rank up, they need to get that character’s shards. This will definitely take a while as you need 10 shards to unlock the character, 20 for the first upgrade, 35 for the next, and then 50+ for the future ones. To get these, you either need to use that said racer a lot online and get their multiplayer rank up, get them in the shop, get them in the gold pass, or for certain ones find them in the single-player content. Doing so rewards you with better ultimate moves and items that are better in the game. In order to level up the character, you need to find upgrade pieces that you can get in the different sections of the game, including the shop or limited challenges. Each of the stars also has a max level associated with them. Therefore, if you want Mike at level 20, for example, you need to have him be at least 2 stars. Besides upgrading characters to get better stats or items, crew members are also there to support the racers.
In terms of the racing itself, it’s like any other kart racer that you have played before but amped up to another layer as each character has differences to them. Items have multiple effects depending if you use them normally or charge the item by holding the item button down. Class types are also in this game, including speedster characters, brawlers, defenders, and tricksters. Each of the characters also has their own abilities that will greatly affect gameplay, especially their special abilities. Mike, for example, creates doors on the field that bounces you forward if you go through it, and if an opponent touches a door, they bounce backwards. Mulan shoots rockets either forward or backward and Donald goes into either a protection bubble or a rage mode. Also, there is indeed a boost bar that will help you speed up. I don’t want to spoil everything, but these are just some examples of what you’ll experience in Disney Speedstorm.
Okay, so I have discussed both the single-player and multiplayer aspects of the game but what is the voice acting or music like? Well, I can safely say it is phenomenal. The characters, at least most of them, sound like they are the original voice actors from the movies that they came from. Not sure if they really are the original voices or ones that are pretty close, but they sound great both on the menu screen and on the track when they are “trash-talking” each other. The audio design was really well done.
For the music, each track and world have multiple songs that were remixed for the game from the movies. Classics like “Zero To Hero” from Hercules, “The Bare Necessities” from Jungle Book, “I’ll Make a Man Out Of You” from Mulan, and much more are in the game already, with probably a lot more on the way in future content drops and seasons. Besides the songs remixed from the movies, they also have new songs developed for the game, on top of ones that I haven’t heard before. Let’s just say I never had to turn off the music which is always a great plus in my book.
In terms of visuals, the game on the PS5 looks absolutely stunning. The bright character models look great on the menu screens but also when it comes to being on the race track. Some of the character models are definitely better than others, but overall they all create the sense of joy I felt from the movies. I love the designs for both Monsters Inc and Mickey and Friends. The crew members are also really well-crafted from their original styles. As for the visuals on the race tracks, Gameloft did the different worlds justice with all of the details that are there. From the castle in Beauty and the Beast to The Great Wall from Mulan to the factory in Monster’s Inc, everything looks great. There are also easter eggs scattered throughout the different worlds that are nods to the movies.
The game for me is as solid as I expected. There are little to no dips in terms of the visuals and frame rate, and when there were a few issues of dips, it was when there was a lot going on the screen and it was during the multiplayer online races. On the single-player side, I haven’t had any big dips in frame rates that I have felt. Saying this though, I have had a few crashes within the game. I think after about 25 hours in the game, I had probably three hard crashes to the main menu of the PS5. Now, that isn’t that big of a deal, but it is still a bit of a disappointment. I get it, it’s an early access title so I expect issues, but I definitely think the game is pretty well polished when looking at the whole package here.
Since this game is a live service, I haven’t even talked about the microtransactions in the game. Well, as of this review, there isn’t a single one. However, these will come later per the statement made on the game’s FAQ, directly from Gameloft. This is no surprise that they are coming later, but how egregious will this actually be? This is a big concern I have at the moment and only time can tell what will come. The other issue with a live service game is how many content updates will come to the game. Well, they will be continually updating the game for its current season and they have already announced a racer for Season 2, so content is definitely not a concern as much at this point. Other than these two points, there are only a few other issues such as the occasional crash and character balancing that needs to be done for the slower racers I want to play as, but will be punished online if I did.
In conclusion, do I recommend this game? Well, that definitely depends on each individual person. If you can answer YES to at least four out of the five following questions, definitely grab it as you will probably like it. If you answer YES to three, check out the trial available on PS+ premium (if you have it available) and see if you would find yourself enjoying it. If you don’t have that option, check out raw gameplay and see what you think. If you answer with a YES on two or fewer, you may not like this game (especially if the first two are both no).
- Question 1: Do you like Disney/Pixar?
- Question 2: Do you like kart racing games?
- Question 3: Do you not mind Early Access games?
- Question 4: Do you not mind Live Service games?
- Question 5: Are you prepared to grind a bit to unlock everything or do you need to have everything available to you at the start of a game?
Personally, where it currently stands $29.99 is a great value for the 25 hours that I have already put in. Speedstorm is going to be staying on my console for a while as it is the best kart racer I have played in a minute, plus it appears like it will have a lot of content coming in its future.
Review Score: 8.5/10