STAFF REVIEW of F1 Race Stars (Xbox 360)

Friday, December 14, 2012.
by Stephen Cameron

F1 Race Stars  Box art Every once and while gaming companies compete against each other for everything. They’ll “borrow” gaming genres, “borrow” ideas, “borrow” box art, and sign crazy licensing deals to make the next big “pot of gold” gaming title. Every single publisher is guilty of this action, however the amount of grace and tact in the way they “borrow” these bright ideas remains completely random. Now, is there anything wrong with that? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

The racing kart genre is one of these bright ideas that publishers latch onto, but why? Because, that damn Italian plumber made boat loads of money with his version of the game. So it’s a completely natural occurrence that the “copycat” factor kicks in, and that publishers want a piece of that racing action.

Example: This year alone (2012), Sonic & All Stars Racing, Little Big Planet Karting, and now this one. That’s only consoles, not handhelds, nor PC! The first problem I saw with this title before opening the box was the fact a Formula One (F1) licensed title was being marketed to a North American audience. Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying there are absolutely no Formula One race fans out there, but let me tell you I personally don’t know any, and I have a lot of race watching buddies. If anyone is into racing around here, it’s NASCAR at the very least. It’s just a really hard sell around here is all I’m saying.

The art direction of the game is spot on, why? It’s simple; the caricature-like character are well designed and fit the overall look and feel on what I believe was their demographic target audience. If you read most of my racing title reviews, you’ll quickly notice that I do enjoy most of them.

Did it get my son excited? Sure it did. The music followed the same suit as the art as it did its job. However, it was short lived. The career portion offers nothing really new. You start off by choosing what you want your driver to look like and you have the incredible choice of picking your own avatar! Talk about something awesome! Well, That falls short too and the only aspect that you see visually is your head. When the race starts, that goes away, so there’s no real peck or awesomeness to be felt here unfortunately.

In every game that is created a developer needs to ask themselves one important question: do I let my cool AI programming kick the players butt or do I let them win a bit and make them feel empowered? There needs to exist a balance there. Unfortunately, F1 Race Star does not have that balance. The AI will always get the upper hand. I can’t imagine racing AI programing being easy, but when you smother it with insane rubber band AI it makes it near impossible to get ahead. The multiplayer sessions are the most fun and the most frustrating, as it clearly uses more rubber band racing here, which I personally hated. The only time it’s been fun is with your own friends. If the AI is involved, forget it.

With this title, it’s obviously geared to a young and family audience. Did it succeed? Let’s just say my seven year old son, didn’t really enjoy it, and he loves Mario Kart. As you can see this review was a double edge sword. First time for me quite honestly. Does it really bring anything new to the table? No, just the F1 license.
Lastly, the game sits at $40 and it’s really not worth that money even, unless you’re a hardcore Formula One fan. But, even then, from a pure racing gamer stand point, the controls are terrible, and track design needs work to fit the controls. You might want to pass this one up and wait for it to show up in your local bargain bin. BUT... IF, and only IF you live in Europe or anywhere else that adores Formula One. You might want to check it out, it’s $40 after all.

I really hate scoring a game on the low end, but sadly overall, if you live in North America skip this title and go play the real Formula One game from Codemasters. It’s a lot better, and it scored better too! Even, my seven year old son didn’t even wanna play anymore.

Overall: 5.7 / 10
Gameplay: 5.5 / 10
Visuals: 7.6 / 10
Sound: 7.6 / 10


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