F1 RACE STARS REVIEW
After 3 successful simulation F1 games, is this karting based spin-off one step too far for Codemasters?
Posted by PlayDevil.com Staff on Dec 6, 2012 15:22 (Dec 6, 2012 15:22)
Written by: Ian
Stars in their eyes?
After 3 successful simulation F1 games, is this karting based spin-off one step too far for Codemasters? With their development teams noted for their simulation games such as DiRT and F1, can this latest spinoff after DiRT showdown add an extra dimension to their racing repertoire?
Welcome to "F1 Race Stars".
There’s no real story to the game as such, although there are 30 different trophies to win across the game’s career. You can choose who you play as every time though (including your avatar on the 360 version), so at least you’re not locked into a team like you are in it’s big brother title F1 2012.
And the F1 roots are deeply embedded in the whole gameplay experience- which is interesting given the arcade nature of kart games. And, unfortunately, it makes for a mixed experience. Some elements, like the way you need to charge your KERS over boost pads to get a better boost, are nice touches. The fact each team also has a power-up modifier or other bonus is also a really nice twist.
Damage is a mixed bag- it’s cool to see bits fly off, but your kart’s performance degrades to the point where a restart is almost certainly needed when you just miss the pits on certain tracks.
You also can’t drift- at all. The game forces you to use the brakes, and whilst that’s novel for a karting game, it’s not fun, at all. There’s also some great innovations for the genre, such as the track modifications, which work a bit like skulls in Halo. How about the track always being wet, or infinite boost- providing you don’t crash? These elements add something new and exciting to the gameplay and are very welcome.
Unfortunately, much of the game is far more tedious than this. The F1 scoring system over-incentivises wins, and the AI, which rubber-bands to you (but not vice versa) has a nasty habit of popping up at the last minute to snatch victory, especially on the higher difficulty. Some of the power-ups are really over-powered, such as the bullet (a blatant Mario Kart rip-off, like many of them) has no limit- if the AI flukes one whilst the pack is tight, they may end up ¼ of a lap ahead of the pack, with no real way of realistically catching them up. Coupled with tracks that can easily last 6-7 minutes per race (even for 2 laps) and you have an experience that lasts way too long, and gets frustrating way too easily.
There is plenty of content, but much of it only opens up in the championship career way too late. The game’s also way too hard, especially for kids, with 3,000cc races being insane in their brutality, and the time trial requirements for gold laughably hard- I couldn’t even pick up a Bronze on the easiest track, Belgium, on the slowest difficulty, driving a near perfect lap. In fact, I was 14 seconds off a gold- which I literally have no idea how I could make up.
It’s a shame that some of the F1 additions didn’t pay off- the style and designs of the circuits are great (if they were shorter), and power-ups would have been good if they had been better tuned so as to not break the game. It’s also silly how the rubber-banding works. I’ve moaned about it in previous kart games, but without it I see how crucial it is to having fun- because going slowly around a 3 minute lap with no-one to hit in front of me, and a load of jostling AI firing all kinds of crap at me is no fun at all- and that’s a real wasted opportunity.