WeView: F1 Race Stars

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.

title

I don’t watch a lot of F1 but I’m reasonably confident this isn’t a regulation course.

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.

– PAGE CONTINUES BELOW –

23 Comments

  1. I tried this game as it was part of PS+ but didn’t like anything about it.

  2. If you got it for free on ps plus & haven’t played it yet, here is what you need to do, DELETE IT, burn it & bin it

    The game sucks

  3. Definite rent. I picked it up free on Plus and was pleasantly surprised but I fully agree that it badly needs a drifting mechanic. It’s seems arbitrary to have the cornering require ‘proper’ driving when at the same time you boosting through corkscrew tracks round giant frogs and firing big sticky bubbles at people!
    The weapons require trial and error to understand what they even do and some of them are just ineffective. On top of that the AI on anything above 1000cc is brutal and tiny mistakes like touching grass/mud/water slows you down a frustratingly cruel amount.
    At the weekend I played this with friend on 4-player local multiplay which is something missing from most games these days. Sadly it wasn’t what it could have been. It’s too busy and confusing and the tracks are too long to get to know quickly. It is cute, has some nice ideas and with practice is fun to play solo but I want a game like this to have a nice approachable multiplayer mode and gradual learning curve and this, sadly, does not.

  4. I got it with PS+ and rather surprisingly quite enjoyed it. Disagree with the handling comments. Seemed to handle fine for me and other than the missing powerslide it’s a pretty good cart racer and certainly a better one than a lot imply. Online is also surprisingly solid.

    A bargain bin for me simply due to it being part of plus but certainly better than a rental.

  5. Bargain Bin, got this as part of plus, wouldn’t have spent much money on it. I have played it a few times, have to agree with Alex on the handling. I don’t know if there is a tutorial in it somewhere but I felt a bit lost when I first played it and still did when I was on it with my nephews just last night. When choosing racers, there are extra options such as ‘royal’ ‘toolkit’ and ‘stars’ after you pick your racer, and I haven’t the foggiest what this is about!! I might be able to find it out if I look in to it, but I just couldn’t be bothered! The menus are a little confusing, not really knowing what sort of race I am going in to, if it is some sort of career mode or just ‘race and unlock’ type mode.

  6. Got it as part of plus. Karts seem to float above the track and the handling is awful. Avoid.

  7. I would say Rent It.
    I got the game from PS+ and at first I was curious about a new carting game, because I cannot find any “successful successor” to Crash Team Racing. After a few hours I was really surprised, because it felt really good and if someone like F1 it’s a laugh to see Michael Schumacher or Jason Button as hyper-deformed comic figures…..but after a few days I unfortunately found out that winning is more about luck then driving here. I can win a few 30 000 races, switch to 10 000 and loose the next few. In addition the short cuts take way to much credit (if you don’t use them, there’s no way to winning).
    This could be such a great carting game, but somehow/somewhere it went all wrong.

  8. Got it from Plus, not too bad of an F1 game but I’d rather watch F1 than play a spin-off or the proper F1 game. Rent it!

  9. Got it from PS+ here, too, having tried the demo before. I can’t say I would have got it any other way, and though it’s a little bit of fun, too many of the game mechanics grate.

    The lack of drifting in particular is a toss up between a shade of realism and the need to brake for corners, and the fun silliness of a karting game. They should have just put it in there for the hell of it, as it would have made the game play a lot better.

    The inclusion of damage is another interesting one, and you’ll be ducking into the pit lane every once in a while, but some of these are far too tricky to figure out and actually drive to!

    But I think that there’s a good karting game there if codies get a second crack at it, and take on board a lot of the feedback they’re getting.

    So…. avoid it, is what I’d say.

  10. I also played a bit when it was free on plus. I didn’t like the handling or the presentation – it was trying hard to be fun with it’s goofy big heads and celebration animations but it simply wasn’t fun to play. Avoid it.

Comments are now closed for this post.