TA Review: F1 Race Stars

TA Review: F1 Race Stars

F1 explores pint sized chaotic karting

Written by DavieMarshall on 19 November 12 at 22:26

Codemasters look to bring F1 racing to a totally new stage in F1 Race Stars as they tear up the rulebook and let their imaginations run wild, but does the transition suit Lewis Hamilton and co. Is it worth it finding a way into your collection of light-hearted games?


Cute but deadly
F1 Race Stars is above anything else, cute. The drivers are fantastic likenesses of the genuine article. Codemasters are clearly making the most of having the creative freedom to express their licensing rights in a new way. The element of careful design extends away from their racers and into the tracks too.


The tracks on offer cover each corner of the globe and cleverly focus on one or two key features (such as the tunnel from Monaco for example) whereas the rest of the track becomes a fluid and silky smooth compact of a particular countries ideals, icons and stereotypes. Take for example, the UK. You'll duck and weave through a car factory, slalom between Harrier Jump Jets (very cool) and endure some pretty bumpy country roads. There's also what we Brits fondly refer to as a 'roundabout' (traffic island to most others) and the dreaded yellow speed camera makes an appearance too. Other reviews have lamented the styles and choices of the track design, but honestly I found it quite enjoyable. Some tracks stand out more than others in terms of their actual layout, but then that's always going to happen, isn't it? Tracks on a racer are like maps on Call of Duty. We all have our favourites, and we all like some variety. The bottom line here is that variety is here by the bucket load, and there are plenty of multiple routes, shortcuts, hazards and length to account for most tastes.

I've been red balled!
The second most important part of any kart racer worth it's salt is the range of power-ups on offer. A quick summary here includes; projectiles both seeking and non-seeking, bubble traps, boosts, teleportation, safety car drops and weapon jammers. You'll forget 90% of the time you're playing an F1 themed kart racer but there are constant nudges with F1 themed weapons to remind you that this isn't Mario or Luigi in your hands. The Safety Car bunches up the pack and allows you to catch-up again, whilst the wet weather you can call down from the sky produces some rather awesome visuals and causes the opposition to struggle for grip and produce slower lap-times too. That's a cool touch, no doubt.

Mostly, though, the weapons are uninspired and these are the ones that are far more common in the mystery boxes dotted around the course. Not only is this boring but it detracts from their value too. If you're lagging behind and just unlocked a boost it doesn't matter. So did 8 out of the 11 other cars ahead of you. It's the same with the Kers System. You earn boost by travelling over charge pads and 'revving' to bank additional boost. It's so easy to store the maximum boost that everyone manages it. As a result you leave the pads, the boost is automatically engaged (there's no option to store it) and nobody changes position or gains any benefit.


Some championship events restrict power-ups to a select few and others ban them completely, but it does little to keep them from getting stale. Most worryingly is that the game becomes a dreadful bore when competitions ban all power-ups in any form. OK, it's only a couple out of all the events on offer, but the game doesn't stand up without them and you'll be eager for them to be finished as fast as possible. That says something quite worrying I think. The core mechanics seem to be flawed.

I'm rubber, you're glue
The karts handle themselves well for the most part. It's when you step up the difficulty that you'll be left wanting. Each event allows you to compete at three levels; 1000cc, 2000cc and 3000cc. This represents an increase in the ability of the AI and of course increases the level of competition you'll struggle against for victory.

At the 1000cc and 2000cc levels you'll be right on the pace with the AI and happily gunning for a podium finish. Turn that dial up to 3000cc, however, and now we find that the AI is gifted additional perks to compensate for their driving style. They don't actually alter their paths, but magically become really good at sticking to their lines. And I mean 'sticking' literally. If you try to take a sharp corner at the same speed as the AI (and brake in the same place as indicated by the puffs of smoke and tyre marks) the kart will understeer badly and you'll lose speed and positions -- you'll likely head off track too. Put simply, it's a dirty old trick of AI programmers, but it's alive and kicking here. Skill makes a much smaller impact on your final position than a large dose of luck.

I should also mention the Time Trials too, as there are linked achievements. You'll manage a Bronze and Silver run (they stack) on your first lap. But Gold? Gold times are brutally calculated. After an hour running laps on a track yesterday and pin pointing boost points with a scientific method worthy of astro-physicists, I was still 0.39 off the required time. Consider each lap lasted just under a minute, and I failed every single time for an hour solid. Now consider I beat the Silver time on my first lap. That would imply a rethink might be required of the conditions you need to meet.

Achievement unlocked
The achievements here are standard fare. Complete all championships, win all trophies, play with a friend split-screen etc. None will cause too much of a hassle, though beating the dirty AI at their own game on 3000cc at all tracks might require some effort and a lot of luck in drawing the right random power-ups at the right time. When all is said and done, I expect the final TA score to settle around the 1500 - 1750 mark.

Is it a podium finish?
Despite the awesome individual flare and creativity of each track and the cute characters to choose from, the experience falls well short. Thanks to the all too familiar power-ups and the below average single player experience, you'll find it wearing thin all too soon. You might get more mileage out with some friends, but in my experimentation with local co-op we found one event of a few races was enough for us. We weren't drawn in, even with team based play. It misses the mark on too many levels. In short, Codemasters need to dream up bigger and wilder karting ambitions.

Review score: Given 2 stars by DavieMarshall
SyndicateKing - Online
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Last post: 19 Nov at 23:52
Posted on 19 November 12 at 22:42
Yeah the looks of the game were fine but as you know in the end gameplay is most inportant and this game just wasnt very fun in my opinion :(
Chris8875 - Geez, clearing all those good games off the "Last 7 Days" feed on Project Spark has gone well. That feed is a trainwreck of mediocrity.
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Posted on 19 November 12 at 22:43
Like minds, mate - my thoughts 100%


Cheating rubberbanding AI is shocking on the 3000cc races.

The time trials are definitely do-able - I did 3 golds yesterday without a massive amount of effort - but the gold times are brutal.

If they allowed an extra second on each of the tracks for a gold time trial I reckon it would be much fairer given some of the track layouts and the variables that can come into play.
grex9101 - Yaay! Microtransactions! Said no-one, ever. Apart from morons, obviously.
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Last post: 11 Dec 13 at 15:34
Posted on 19 November 12 at 22:43, Edited on 19 November 12 at 22:44 by grex9101
They got Hamilton 100%. Looks like a total fanny, just like real life!

Yank Edit: Fanny in the UK = vagina. laugh
Pure Vapour 420 - thou shalt think for yourselves. ..
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Last post: 09 Nov at 16:17
Posted on 19 November 12 at 23:01
Shame, this could have actually been really good...PS I'm rubber, you're glue quote made lol i love any phrase from sir guybrush Threepwood toast
Are we born not knowing or are we born knowing all,are we growing wiser or are we just growing tall.
Lord Wunderbar - ...
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Last post: 19 Nov at 17:32
Posted on 19 November 12 at 23:11
im still playing it!!! i love games like this, bang bang racing was freeking fun and it looked somewhat like this game!! i wish they would make a HD version of micro machines or R.C. Pro Am!!!! come on now you all know you love some rc pro am!!!!!!!
RONSTER316 - .
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Last post: 24 Oct at 10:11
Posted on 19 November 12 at 23:13
Three kart racers released within 10 days of one another..... (one is on ps3, but still)

The superior kart racer this year is clearly Sonic & All-Stars Racing: Transformed.

LittleBigPlanet Karting & F1 Race Stars have been left in the dust.
Stevano61 PB2A - Love it when playing an old game, and the ending still surprises me. Did not see it coming in BO2, and never checked what others were.
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Last post: 20 Nov at 15:16
Posted on 19 November 12 at 23:53
It's F1, so at some point I'm picking it up! I love all karting games lol
Hooded Claw 006 - Just picked up Hitman HD Collection for £3. Finally I'm back on the XBox!
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Last post: Yesterday at 21:36
Posted on 19 November 12 at 23:58
Yeah, from the demo I played, it was a very poor imitation of Mario Kart. Agree with 2 out of 5.
CASS190684 - CASS190684 won 85 Achievements in 4 games, for a total of 2,457 TrueAchievement points (1,590 GamerScore).
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Last post: Yesterday at 23:39
Posted on 20 November 12 at 01:22
I'm disappointed by all the reviews I've seen/read of this. I was hoping it was going to really good but now I'm not so sure if I will bother with it, even as a super cheapie.
After recently playing JoyRide Turbo I'm keen for another kart racer, but maybe Sonic would be my best option going by other people's opinions and the reviews...
I like what I like and I don't what I don't.
Flyboy80498 - Looking for a co-op partner to do the co-op missions in Dead Space 3.  Achievements would be nice, but not necessary.
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Last post: 13 Feb 13 at 04:07
Posted on 20 November 12 at 02:25
This looked like a promising game, but all in all it is just pure frustration.
"Aim High ... Fly-Fight-Win"
Grake 77
Grake 77 - I did wonder out of the 169,900 Halo 3 players, how many people actually completed it on Legendary Solo?
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Last post: 07 Jun at 10:31
Posted on 20 November 12 at 08:16
I played the demo with my kids and it looked promising, may have to have a look at Sonic then.
MadDragon360 - Diablo 3 Ult Evil edition on sale for £35.99! it was a LONG wait, but worth it! :D
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Last post: 20 Nov at 01:46
Posted on 20 November 12 at 09:27
The time trials on this sound like the time trials on sonic all-stars racing transformed. I beat easy, medium, and hard ghosts in 1 attempt, but those expert ghosts...

So far I'v only managed to beat 1! shock
jacky rooster
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Last post: Today at 06:17
Posted on 20 November 12 at 10:02
that sucks to hear, i was looking forward to this, but after your review and chris's back up, i think i best to let it go!
Beanpotter - Think I'm done with Horizon 2 as the rest of the achs look too grindy and I don't want to spoil the fun I've had so far.
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Last post: Today at 13:16
Posted on 20 November 12 at 10:54
Played the demo at Eurogamer and hated it. Just got bored so quickly. I was prepared to give it another go but looks like my first impressions were correct. Shame.
Mame Tobikomi!
Toboloco - Goddamn you matt for renting motionsports 2, such a horrible set of games
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Last post: 10 Jan 13 at 13:05
Posted on 20 November 12 at 11:45
I wouldn't give it 2 stars, i'd give it 3 and a half. its actually pretty fun
NBA 2k13 > fifa 13
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Last post: 03 Jan at 02:21
Posted on 20 November 12 at 13:11
I'm gonna have to disagree with the reviewer. This game is fun, especially when you play splitscreen with one or more people. Yes those powerups are annoying at times but that's what kart racing is all about no?

KERS might be useless in single player but in multiplayer splitscreen with friends you have a chance.
TheIcemanKnows - Yes, Yes, Yes I'm Doing All That!
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Last post: 19 Dec 13 at 16:52
Posted on 20 November 12 at 15:49, Edited on 20 November 12 at 15:50 by TheIcemanKnows
I found it fun and addictive (Especially the multiplayer!), but I do agree with the "I'm rubber, you're glue" Section, I find that frustrating, I hate being the only driver not getting the correct lines.
However, I believe Codemasters will be doing a patch in a future as there are suggestions flooding through their Facebook Page.
Give it a chance, at least multiplayer is free with no online pass required!
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Last post: 20 Nov 12 at 16:29
Posted on 20 November 12 at 16:29
I agree with W8taminute1941, in splitscreen with other players it's a laugh a minute. The only problem is my daughter keeps beating me.
NawtyCawty - Well I have bought over 700 games and what do I get from MS as a thank you in their giveaway? Sweet f.a. lol
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Last post: Today at 10:46
Posted on 21 November 12 at 00:47
Blimey, Lewis Hamilton looks to be even more big-headed in this game than he is in real life. I thought that was almost impossible....