As promised earlier today, here’s the second part of today’s WeView double header – F1 Race Stars. To be honest I was mildly surprised when Codemasters originally announced this karting spin-off of their popular Formula One series, particularly as I tend to see Codemasters as much more focussed on realistic driving titles, Dirt: Showdown aside.
Nevertheless F1 Race Stars was announced, and unfortunately wasn’t that well received critically. It earned in our review of the game, a figure that’s roughly in line with the game’s Metacritic scores for the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC versions of the game, which all hover around the 60 mark.
One of the biggest problems we had with the game in our review was the handling, and that’s something that seems to hark back to the simulation lineage of the F1 series, as well as the associated license. When looking at the title Alex complained of “frustratingly lazy understeer in the bends with otherwise twitchy, immediate, directional, pointed driving elsewhere”, a juxtaposition not only within the handling, but with the game’s arcade presentation.
Despite the appearance of Formula One drivers and cars, or at least versions of them, the game still looks like a kart racer, and it should behave like one. In fact Alex actually said he “never once wanted to drive it like a ‘normal’ racing game,” and it’s obvious why. To be fair to the game, Alex did find that once you get a hold on the handling “it’s a decidedly more flowing game”, but even so it seems like a strange decision.
Handling aside, the core game is actually reasonably fun. Alex was particularly impressed by the customisation and variety that the game’s multiplayer offers you, as well as the modifiers it allows the host to set. The weapons weren’t as well received, being described as “a little vague and woolly,” but fortunately the game’s flexibility allows you turn them off in multiplayer if you aren’t in love with them either.
While the game’s courses may be visually appealing, Alex found that they were about twice as long as they needed to be. In fact he suggested an ideal solution “would have been to split them into two and effectively double the amount of courses”. Simple, but effective.
It should be clear by now that Alex wasn’t overly impressed with Race Stars as a complete package. If you haven’t quite got the message yet, here’s what he had to say in conclusion:
F1 Race Stars could have been wonderful, with just a couple of tweaks to the handling. However, the stoic adherance to sim-esque cornering has meant that the driving needs to be approached with far more care than it should, something that’s at odds with the presentation, track design and the fact that at any point you could be blasted with a weapon from behind – and they’re not blockable either. It’s still a decent title for the younger ones, but it’s in real danger of missing the one crucial element that all games like this should have: simple, fun handling.
So that’s his view on the game, now it’s time to hear yours. Did you find more to like, or did it disappoint you just as much? Whatever your answer to the question, you can share your thoughts on the game by dropping a comment below. All we ask is that you attach a rating to the game, selecting from the Buy It, Bargain Bin It, Rent It and Avoid It categories, and that you get your comment in by Sunday afternoon if you want to be included in next week’s verdict article.