It would be easy to overlook a newly released racing game at the moment. What with F1 2010 burning up the charts, and GT5 and Need for Speed on the way, attention is firmly focused away from lesser known titles. Can SuperStars V8 Racing prove to be a complete enough downloadable title to warrant a purchase? The main selling point of the game is the fact it has the official license of the ‘Superstar’ Touring Car series; which is a championship involving high powered V8 racers that can reach in excess of 450hp.
Open up the main menu and you will be greeted by several options. Rather than just pick a car to race, players are given the choice of both a car and a driver. Each driver has several stats, such as ‘experience’, which affect how they behave during a race. Whilst that sounds great in theory, it doesn’t actually seem to make that much of a difference.
For a downloadable title, the game certainly presents you with a pleasingly varied number of modes. ‘Training’ allows you to pick a track, car, driver and weather settings and simply complete laps until you get bored. To spice things up a bit you get the chance to race a ghost of your fastest lap so you can spot where you need more practice. ‘Quick Race’ does exactly what it says on the tin. Where Training mode has you just doing laps, Quick race pits you against nineteen other racers over a set number of laps. Once again you can choose your car, driver, track and weather settings. We recommend spending some serious time in Quick Race, as it will pay dividends in the more substantial modes.
‘Race Weekend’ gives you the chance to experience a whole weekend of racing. It starts with Free Practice 1, where you are given 30 minutes to set up your car and get to know the layout of the track. Rather than wait the full 30 minutes, you can choose to skip forward in intervals of a few minutes. Free Practice 2 allows you to try out the track again for another 30 minutes. Qualifying Practice gives you 30 minutes to set a hop lap, and keep an eye out on rival racers as they do the same. The position you finish in Qualifying Practice determines where you start on the grid come race day, which involves a tense three lap race against nineteen racers.
‘Championship’ mode is essentially an expanded version of Race Weekend, where you take part in the practice runs, qualifying and race day for every track. The driver with the most points at the end of the season wins the championship. ‘Superstars Licenses’ is reminiscent of the license challenges in Gran Turismo. The mode contains twenty challenges, with each completed challenge unlocking a new one. It’s fair to say there is a hefty amount of content here, and those of you who enjoy chasing trophies will be lured in by the easy ones before being hooked on the tough ones. It’s also one of those rare beasts – a PSN game with a Platinum trophy!
One of the more interesting things about this racer is the fact that it really is a game of two halves, depending on how you want to play it. Arcade style whacks on every driving aid, meaning you can make some pretty daft mistakes and still have time to correct yourself before giving the tyre wall a big metal kiss. Arcade is enjoyable, and it won’t be long before you find yourself setting competitive times and keeping up with the front of the pack. Simulation style cranks up the difficulty and will be for those who enjoy eating wheel nuts for breakfast, with a side order of spark plugs. Simulation allows you to tinker with ABS, TCS, ESC, and your transmission type, before letting you loose on the track (and presumably into a wall). You can instantly feel the difference when you have changed some of the settings, and driving in wet conditions also becomes a much more skilful affair.
For those that scoff at just turning off driver aids, there are also a number of realism options you can turn on such as car damage, tyre wear and driver penalties for doing things like cutting corners. When this happens your car slows to a snails pace for the allotted penalty time. If you’re really into your racing games you’ll be pleased to hear that you can make alterations to your car to take into account what type of track you are racing on. Suspension, brakes, spoiler angle, the list goes on and far exceeds anything many will ever want to do. Online multiplayer is supported by way of a twelve player race, allowing you to change a number of settings before the start. Graphically the game looks nice, albeit not massively detailed. I was particularly fond of the ponding water on the track after a heavy downpour.
- Good car handling settings
- A lot of content
- A nice level of customisation
- Could have done with more cars and tracks
Overall SuperStars V8 Racing is pleasantly surprising. After a good few hours with the game it will still be pulling you back in for another go, teasing you to master that tricky hairpin, or to find the perfect car set up. Whilst many of you will be looking to Sony and a GT5 release date, I urge you to divert your eyes a little and give this a try.