GAME NAME: F1 Race Stars
GENRE(S): Arcade, Racing
RELEASE DATE(S): 13 November 2012
You’re on the starting grid, you can hear the massive V8 engine growling beneath you, desperate to release its fury and destroy the tarmac. Suddenly all that power is rushed to the wheels that release a high pitched squeal as you thrust forward at a ridiculous high speed. The other drivers around you are in your rear view mirror, for a brief moment you feel like a true F1 Race driver. Until the first corner where you fly off the tarmac and smash into a tire barrier because you hit the brakes much too late, and were travelling as fast as a supersonic jet mid flight. Bits of your car are now sprinkled everywhere like expensive Ferrari confetti, and your opponents begin to lap you as you try find the track. If any of this sounds like you when playing an F1 racing simulation, then F1 Race Stars is for you.
Developers Codemaster are no strangers to the asphalt, with many racing titles under their collective belt. The fact that they have tried something off the simulation track is refreshing. However this is a cart racing game and there are certain things that do not work in a cart racing game. Consider the way that they have managed the handling of the cars. We know that this game is by no means a simulation of the sport and in real life an F1 car would only drift if they were spiralling out of control or being driven by one of the G3AR members. But not having the ability to drift your cars around the comical themed tracks in a cart game is like going to a Linkin Park concert with ear plugs. It feels off and you get the feeling that your car is going to drift around a tight bend all the time, but instead your wheels are glued to the track. The handling feels like an almost sneeze and is just as irritating.
It wouldn’t be allowed to call itself F1 Race Stars if it didn’t have some of Formula 1’s most famous faces. All of the sport’s biggest names are here from Fernando Alonso to Sebastian Vettel, sporting heads almost as big as their real life egos. The cartoonish style looks great with drivers looking like caricature bobble heads and with all their little quirks captured nicely. The 11 tracks share the same cartoonish style as the drivers and parody their real world counterparts, with famous landmarks making appearances. The tracks are fun the first few times but since there’s only 11 of them you’ll burn through them pretty quick.
Of course another fundamental in the great book of what makes a great kart racing game are the crazy weapons. F1 Race Stars has some interesting ways in dealing with your opponents. You pick up weapons on the track by driving over illuminated stars. Then the weapons quickly cycle by in the left hand corner until the player stops it, like a slot machine of weaponry awesomeness. You can trap other drivers in bubbles or even transform your car in to an unstoppable missile that lets you storm past opponents. One of the most irritating to fall victim to are the balloons filled with confetti that fill up your screen, making it hard to see. The weapons add most of the fun factor to the game but are not as unique when compared to other karting titles.
The most enjoyment out of a karting game is found in taking on your friends in some split screen action. This is where you will get the most miles out of F1 Race Stars, as the AI is brain dead and not nearly as fun as taking out your buddies. However kart fans seem to be spoilt for choice with karting titles this year and unfortunately F1 Race Stars is not in pole position.
The F1 references are great, as is the chance to play as your favourite drivers. But the small selection of tracks and features makes it feel like it should have been a downloadable title on one of the market places. Karting fans will most likely get more kicks out of the recently reviewed Sonic and All Stars Racing Transformed. Unless you have a Ferrari-themed duvet cover and live and breathe F1, this title might have you only going a few laps before being disqualified for sleeping at the wheel.