F1 Race Stars from Codemasters jumps in to the fray as a not so serious F1 entry and one that aimed more towards casual audiences. Gone are the technicalities in favour of a simplistic combat racer that’s more akin to Mario kart than anything else.
The game does boast the teams and racers you’d expect from an F1 game including Lewis Hamilton and legends such as Michael Schumacher. There’s a couple of female racers thrown in to mix things up a little. Players select either a career mode or single race/championship racing or enjoy the experience with local of online multiplayer.
The single player game offers colourful and well animated tracks to tear up alongside numerous opponents, making for tight and aggressive racing. There’s a boost system where players drive over specific surfaces and can charged up a boost based on displaced energy and also elements such as slip streaming to gain speed. The driving is quite simplistic, but does require a bit of skill in terms of taking corners well and occassionally applying the brakes.
To make matters more interesting, the tracks are littered with pickups which can be used as offensive or defensive weapons. These can often turn the tides of races at the last moment and much like any other racing game which features weapons comes with a whole host of frustrations too. The AI, on medium settings at least seems to drive flawlessly, leaving the player pushing for catch up. Often a lone racer will break ahead making it a tougher challenge. However, when close to the finish line and another racer pips you to the post after what can be some lengthy races doesn’t gel well. There’s almost a sense that skills become redundant and luck acts as a deciding factor when these moments occur. That said, the game is still reasonably fun and why not.
F1 Race Stars sports an exaggerated look, with over sized heads and caricatures of the real life racers. The game runs smoothly, but is perhaps lacking in overall details – although a lot of thought was obviously placed in the various regional circuits with all their quirks.
There’s perhaps an issue with this game in terms of how its been presented, as it does feel more like an Xbox Live Arcade game instead of a full retail game. Whilst there’s quite a number of events to race through in career, the game does feel a little bear bones. Split screen four player is fun to play as is venturing online, but the reality is, it’s not a game to sink many days and weeks into.
As a no nonsense, fun filled racing game that doesn’t take itself too seriously or have high aspirations, F1 Race Stars is a cool little game. However, a lack of things to do in the F1 world and a bare bones presentation coupled with some frustrating moments make for a game that’s going to sit better with younger players and those looking for light relief from more serious F1 games.
6/10 – Robert Cram