When it comes to driving games Formula One usually takes the realistic approach. This isn’t really that surprising as most F1 fans would take any opportunity to get inside a real life Formula One car and be the next Michael Schumacher or Lewis Hamilton. In recent years however there has been a spike in the popularity of karting games and Codemasters are now trying to take pole position with their latest release, Formula One Race stars. Is giving F1 the arcade karting treatment the perfect formula? Well put on your racing gloves and get to the start line as we take to the race track.
You can definitely tell from the offset that Codemasters have captured the lighter side of Formula One racing. There is a bright and vibrant cartoon theme playing out through the entirety of this game, from the race track design to the drivers themselves. Each character is a caricatured version of a current formula one driver. All of your F1 favourites are here, including Sebastian Vettle, Lewis Hamilton, Micheal Schumacker and Bruno Senner just to name a few. There are also a few female characters included, but as there aren’t any female F1 drivers out there on the tracks at the moment these characters have been made up for the game. F1 Race stars boasts a solid roster of 24 racers to choose from however your favourite F1 driver is bound to be included in the line-up. Each character also has a unique power which does add diversity to the character selection. Whether it is the ability to swap weapons or give a certain weapon an extra boost there is a solid variety of character powers.
Gameplay wise there is a full career mode to play through as well as quick play mode and online multiplayer. All three of these modes can be played either solo, or with up to four friends using split screen. Career mode lets you play through a series of championships where the sole aim is to win. This sounds simple enough, but with eight race modes thrown in to challenge your driving skills you definitely have your work cut out for you. With modes like elimination mode where the objective is to stay out of last place to avoid being eliminated, Exhibition mode where you have to show off your racing skills to accumulate points and Refuel mode where you have to collect fuel in order to keep racing there is a lot to play through.
The sheer variety of game modes plus the amount of drives do however come at a price. There are only eleven racetracks in F1 Race stars which means that you will be playing the same track quite a few times over. Each track is based on a country and is wonderfully constructed to capture the theme of the country it is based on. For example in the Great Britain track you have the Red Arrows flying above you whereas in the USA stage you have to drive through a full on destruction derby arena. Each track also has its own collection of short cuts as well adding a little bit more variety to the gameplay.
Primarily F1 Race stars is a karting game and on the surface it does this relatively well. You can tell that Codemasters have tried to keep the F1 theme throughout the game, which in my opinion does affect the driving. Power sliding doesn’t feature at all in this game meaning you have to rely on the breaks quite heavily. The lack of any sort of drift does take away something from the overall karting experience that this game seems to be trying to achieve. Some of the other elements that F1 Race stars have added do work well though, such as the KERS system. KERS (or kinetic energy recovery system) gives your car that little bit of extra boost whilst going around corners. As soon as the blue arrows appear on the track you have to squeeze accelerator button down three times to accumulate boost. This is a neat little system that gives you that extra hand if you are lagging behind in races.
As with any Karting game F1 Race stars brings with it a whole arsenal of weapons to give you that extra advantage whilst speeding round the tracks. Of course you have your standard boost and projectile weapons but this game also brings some unique weapons into the mix. The safety car slows down whoever is in first place and torrential rain makes the track wet which slows everyone down. With all of these weapons flying around your car is bound to take quite a bashing, and this has been taken into consideration with a real time damage system. In this game your car will physically take damage and you will need to fix it up via the pit stops that have been added into each track. Of course these pit stops do take you on a small scenic detour, meaning that you could lose a couple of places in the race but if you time them wisely you shouldn’t lose too much ground.
Overall F1 Race stars is a fun game with some unique ideas. The lack of tracks and the inability to powerslide do bring it down slightly in my opinion, but its bright cartoony graphics, fun Formula One themed elements and sizable career mode help to make up for this. If you like F1 and are looking for something casual, quirky and family friendly then F1 Race Stars could be the game for you.
+ Nice Variety Of Game Modes.
+ Unique F1 weapons add to the theme
- Lack of power sliding takes away from the game
- Only 11 race tracks in the whole game
Game supplied for review by Lunch PR on behalf of Codemasters out noe for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.