F1 Race Stars Reviews

  • Chris8875Chris8875479,999
    19 Nov 2012 19 Nov 2012
    18 4 7
    F1 Race Stars Review

    This review focusses on gameplay rather than ease (or otherwise) of achievements. But in short, the achievements are quite challenging - this is far from an easy 1000GS.

    From the minute I saw the first previews of F1 Race Stars, I've wanted to like the game.

    Cool tracks, real F1 drivers (or at least, bobblehead versions of them), different F1 teams with special individual power-up capabilities, and lots of game modes ... and the game was put together by the venerable Codemasters stable.

    It was with great anticipation I popped the game in the console on the weekend, grabbed my coffee, put on my racing goggles (OK, the last bit isn't true) and got ready to drive.

    But after about 6-8 hours of play later - spread across 2 days - I unhappily come to the conclusion that this game is flawed.

    Deeply flawed.

    Don't get me wrong - the basis of a really good game is in there somewhere, but unfortunately it is almost impossible to find underneath the flawed game play.

    The key problem with this game is, unfortunately, the central concept to its being - that is, that Codemasters have tried to deliver a cart racing game with significant elements of real life F1 racing style and technique.

    A hybrid cart-orthodox racer, as it were. And the two aren't able to co-exist in F1 Race Stars.

    On the one hand, the actual real life racing techniques are a refreshing change from the traditional mad and manic cart racing environs on show in games like Mario Kart and Sonic and Sega All Star Racing.

    In this game you have to actually put the brakes on at corners and use proper racing line to enter and exit turns and chicanes. Missing a turn leaves you on the grass or in the "kitty litter" and results in speed loss and problems (just like in real life F1 Racing)

    This can be jarring at first but is, ultimately, done well. And good cornering technique becomes vital in 3000cc races, where powerful cars can launch off the road.

    To encourage good cornering, F1 Race Stars has in place what it calls KERS Corners, which are located at various spots around the track.

    These corners are striped and often located on slightly tighter corners which you have to slow to manuvere. Then, as you drive on them, you can pump your right trigger button to fill a boost meter through 3 levels.

    Once you exit the corner, your car sets off at rocket speed, fueled by a boost. Perfecting this technique is of great assistance in the game.

    In addition, slipstreaming other drivers is vital in order to catch up to, and pass, them. A good slipstreaming technique is vital (and for at least one team, provides a boost power-up as well).

    And finally, cars that are damaged need to be repaired in the pits. Entry and exit to the pits are clearly marked in spots around the track, and you "drive through" to be repaired.

    All fine and good in theory. The cars handle nicely as a rule, and in isolation, each aspect above works well.

    The problem comes when combining these elements with traditional cart racing and its techniques. This is where the game really starts to unravel.

    Simply put, the orthodox driving techniques don't mesh with the traditional cart racing features like whacky tracks, power-ups and boosts.

    A prime example of the problem is what happens when you are actually in a race - because that's when you begin to notice the serious flaw centred around two issues:

    The "power-up/damage/pit" concept.
    The "rubberband AI" problem.

    For a start it isnt easy to establish a lead in a race. In fact, the best way to do it is through orthodox driving, use of slipstreams and KERS corners, and knowing the layout of the track and its shortcuts.

    As in any cart racer, once you do get into the lead, you expect to be attacked from all angles. And F1 Race Stars doesn't disappoint - you are variously pulsed off the track or trapped in bubbles.

    The problems start because these attacks are overpowered.

    When you get trapped in a bubble or shunted (or rained on) and you not only lose ground on other drivers (or your hard-fought lead), but your car sustains damage.

    And the only way to fix damage is to drive into a pits area. Problem is, there are only a few on each map, and if you are hit by a power-up a long way from one, you have to nurse your malfunctioning and slow car around the track until you get there (most likely while unleashing a tirade at the TV).

    This means any power-up deals double damage - the immediate "hit" and the lingering "damage" only fixable in the pits.

    This will see you drop back alarmingly in the race order, and result in swearing as you try to get your car to the pits, often being targeted by AI drivers along the way for more damage.

    However, once your car is fixed, you can instantly receive major damage via a power-up as soon as you resume racing, leaving you in need of a pit stop that you know isn't now coming for a while yet.

    This allows the AI to easily "rubberband" past you and erase virtually any lead less than a quarter of the track in length.

    Add to that the fact that it isn't easy to catch back up once you have lost ground - orthodox cornering slows you down, the AI cars seem to rubberband away to ridiculous 10 second leads - and you can slip from first to last in the blink of an eye, and without doing anything wrong in terms of racing, driving or technique.

    There is no reward for racing to the lead in this game, whereas in other racing games (even good cart races) there is.

    There is no incentive for driving properly when you can't make up ground by doing so, or when other races simply slam you off the track, damage you and send you to the pits.

    And it would be so easy to fix the problem. Simply do away with the idea of repairing damage in the pits and swap it for an instant repair power-up drivers can collect as they drive around the track (like Blur, or other cart racing games for example)

    This would allow damage to be repaired quickly, on the fly and not leave you looking for a place to pit as you slip down the race order.

    In its absence, the game is rather brutal. And frustrating. Which is a pity, because while there are a number of game modes to play - many of which are customisable - the central core of F1 Race Stars is its career mode.

    Career mode sees you battle to top spot in 30 different championship events spanning a number of game modes. But many become an exercise in frustration because the rules can't be customised and you are continually battling overpowered power-ups and the flawed damage/pit concept.

    In addition, racing on the same 11 tracks across all these championships gets a bit boring. They are grouped numerous ways in different championships, but it seems like a bit of padding. There needed to be more than 11 tracks.

    Online racing options are good, as are local multiplayer options. But I've found only a limited number of people are playing this online right now - hopefully that improves.

    For those that want a real solo challenge, the time trials provide a very very good one. They a tough to get gold medals in and you have to be on your game to do so. Best of luck!

    SUMMARY

    F1 Race Stars tries to be a bit of everything to everyone. And while it has some great ideas, it can't comfortably mesh orthodox racing and cart racing. And the shortcomings from trying to do so affect gameplay balance and have the potential to leave players frustrated.

    Personally, I prefer Sonic and Sega All Star Racing - a "pure" cart racer.

    2.5 stars out of 5
    4.0
  • destinee ehgcdestinee ehgc482,068
    04 Dec 2012 04 Dec 2012
    9 1 1
    Originally posted on gamingirl.com

    Although it’s clearly fun to speed off into the distance as triple world champion Sebastian Vettel, there’s a strange satisfaction to winning championships with the underdogs. I had great joy carving up the track with Charles Pic driving for Marussia, just because I could.

    Formula One – love it or hate it you must have heard something about the 2012 season as it was just so damned exciting! The chaotic season brought a lot of fans back to the fold as it was hailed the best season ever, so the timing couldn’t be better for Codemasters’ kart-racing homage to the sport.

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    Combining the pit stops and driving style of F1 cars with the assorted weaponry and boosts associated with the likes of Mario Kart, you can get into the seat of every official driver and a couple of additional extras. Each team has a special ability according to their driving style, for example a slipstream boost for Red Bull but a backwards homing missile for Ferrari (perfect for those with a more devious driving style).

    Eleven out of twenty tracks are represented in the game (leaving room for dlc, Codemasters?) but recognising those famous corners can be challenging once they’ve been given their cartoon make-overs. Log flumes, hairpins in the sky and shortcuts through fields are just a handful of things you can expect to see as you make your way around the world. Taking the key elements of the tracks and turning them into an over the top trip around the country certainly makes this F1 Race Stars feel far more kart-racer than it would have otherwise. However, it still feels like they played it a little bit too safe as it just doesn’t have the sparkle or charm that you would expect. Long dull sections between glimpses of imagination greatly diminish the feel of the levels.

    What are my options?


    There’s certainly no lack of ways to play as you can play solo or co-op, against each other or in teams, both on- and offline. Time trial mode let’s you go forever as you seek the perfect line to shave a few tenths of seconds off your time, whilst career unlocks new events as you progress. Career starts with straight racing alone but eliminations, refuel events, collectible runs, slaloms, exhibitions, sector snatches and mixed events are soon made available. These events break up the racing nicely and prove to be an essential addition to the game.

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    With power-ups a plenty (boosts, missiles, rain showers, and safety cars to name a few) and a secret key-requiring route on each track this is far from a straight racing game. For maximum enjoyment quit caring if you win, get a mate and a few beers and enjoy the chaos. After all, that’s how kart-racers were meant to be enjoyed.

    Disappointments

    F1 Race Stars allows you to pick from three difficulties, one of which is fairly easy (even if you suck at kart-racers, which I do), and two of which make you feel constantly at the mercy of luck rather than your skill. Power-ups come thick and fast, with a hit from any of them holding you up AND rendering your car a broken mess that will crawl till you reach the pits. Of course, as soon as you leave you’ll find yourself damaged again, but now with a long way to go till the next pit opportunity. If you’re looking to not throw your controller through your TV then adjusting the options to no damage is really your only choice. Unfortunately this isn’t available in career.

    I’m not entirely sure why Codemasters felt the need to put in two imaginary teams. One is mixed gender, whilst the other is female only. I can see why they thought this might appease non-F1 fans who were playing in pairs, but with the option to swap in your avatar surely this isn’t needed. Instead it takes away from the experience when you continuously see Michael Schumacher beaten by Ruby Power.

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    A major problem with F1 Race Stars comes in co-op career. In this style of game the fun is always going to be greater with a friend, and whilst this is accommodated to some degree it’s not enough. Playing together should be the standard way to play this game but only Player One gets any achievements or unlocks. It’s just not realistic to expect two people to play through career mode twice and so you quickly end up playing by yourself.

    The Bottom Line

    F1 Race Stars is a good stab at taking Formula One somewhere more accessible, but a handful of annoyances and lack of charm means it qualifies as purely mid-pack. Not fast-paced enough for a kart-racer and too crazy for F1, the handling of the cars is nicely done but damage and an inability to win on skill alone ruin a game that had so much potential.

    Hit; The cartoony feel makes this a light and enjoyable experience.

    Miss; Not having the ability to do a co-op career that counts for both players is a huge mistake that sorely dents this title.

    Need; A better balance when it comes to damage. It can be a frustrating mess.

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    3.0