STAFF REVIEW of Grand Prix Rock n' Racing (Xbox One)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016.
by Brent Roberts

Grand Prix Rock n' Racing Box art If we set the way-back machine to take us back into the glory days of the NES, you might just remember a racing game called RC Pro Am. This top down arcade racer most likely helped form the foundation and reference for the game I am about to review, Grand Prix Rock N' Racing, the next racing game by EnjoyUp Games. This top down arcade racer attempts to capture the essence and excitement of arcade F1 racing using a top down view and in a boisterous rock and roll environment. Priced at $7.99, does Grand Prix Rock N' Racing take the coveted checkered flag and our money from our wallet, or does it hit a patch of oil, spin out, hit the wall and go up in a ball of flames?

Right from the start there's no denying that Grand Prix Rock N' Racing is designed to push the incredibly overdone cheesy rock and roll music themes while throwing in an announcer that really needs to switch to decaf. This whimsical take is all fine and dandy as you browse the main menu and see that the only modes you can select from are Championship, Time Trial, Multiplayer, and Settings but when racing it's a whole other thing.

Settings shows you your button layout which is your traditional RT for gas, LT for break, B button for boost, and A, Y, and RB for gear switching, and of course click the RS to center your car. The latter is something that you will soon find to become more important to your racing in this game than breathing. You can also choose to raise and lower the music and the sound effects volume, but that’s it. No more options to select from, so now let's begin with Championship mode.

That is, if you can call it that. There are 10 race tracks that span all over the globe which equate to just different layouts and different skins, but be ready for what could easily be one of the more unenjoyable driving experiences you'll ever have. When selecting Championship mode you'll have to create a new file because obviously you haven't played this yet.

The first stop is an oval track in the USA. Pressing Y before the match brings up an upgrade menu that you can access before every race, and it's here where you can upgrade your speed, brakes, acceleration, turbo, and more. Pressing start will begin the race and you'll find yourself at the back of the pack. Now there's a tip on the settings screen where it says you can get a boost to your start if you press and hold the throttle when you hear the over caffeinated announcer shout "GO!", and so far there's about as much truth to that as there is to the Loch Ness Monster.

As the race begins your car begins to crawl, and I mean crawl at a snail's pace, and while your opponents start slow as well they still somehow manage to dart away after a few seconds. So now you've finally got momentum and here comes an oncoming left hand turn. Before you know it your car has collided directly into the wall thanks to the really questionable handling of your race car. It's at this point that I have to remind you, the reader, that this game is touted as one that possesses "realistic driving physics" as one of its selling points, yet it's nowhere to be found. So you've now crashed into the wall and you'll notice a circle around your car, it's at this point in time when you can press in the RS to center your car on the track and get going again (you will be doing this a lot).

You're on the move again (starting from a pace where you could drive Miss Daisy) and you're thankful that there is an oncoming straight away, all of a sudden you realize that for some reason you are being passed and you haven't made it out of the back straight. You may gain a position or two thanks to the AI deliberately crashing into each other or the wall, but then here comes another turn and by now you'll probably notice that hitting the breaks on this arcade racer makes you balance between a dead stop, full throttle, and everything in between. You muster your nerves and manage to go through the turn without incident, then onto the home straight. By the time you finish you will be lucky to place in the top 10 as you move onto the next track in the circuit and this one has a hairpin. Have fun.

Depending on where you place in your Championship race determines how many upgrade tokens you get to spend on your car. I personally managed, through the grace of God, to come in 7th place and earned a few upgrade tokens. I upgraded my handling, acceleration, turbo, and speed. This still made my car almost completely useless as I ended up taking 14th place in the next race. I understand that you have to build a competent race car with proper stats and "Clarksonian powerrrrrrr", but that forces you to play these race tracks quite a bit more than you want to.

Perplexed as to why the car accelerated at a snail's pace from the start and handled really badly in the Championship mode, I went to select Time Trial to see if this performance issue plagued this mode as well. Thankfully I can say that in Time Trial the car felt more responsive and not as sluggish or lethargic, and my times were consistently improving with each lap. I then went back to the Championship mode and WHAM, I'm right back into a horrible driving setup. I have no idea why your car decides not to accelerate from the start or handle so poorly, but if you play the Time Trial mode then you'll get a feel for how this game should be played. It's a shame though considering you're just doing Time Trials and not making progress.

Multiplayer is more of the same where you and three other friends can locally sign in, customize your cars, and race together. I don't know why you would want to do that, but the option is available, and after playing it I found myself going back to Time Trial just to have a proper handling and somewhat better accelerating car.

I was a bit disappointed to also discover that the races in Championship mode don't have a restart option (I don't know why, it would be very helpful). So every time you crash and wreck and end up in 19th place you have to exit completely back to the main menu and set up the race again to try once more. This means you have to sit through a lengthy loading animation that does very little except to showcase an over eager announcer and some ridiculous rock and roll music.

For $7.99 (USD) + tax I would say that if you're that hard up for some top down arcade racing game reminiscent of the quality RC Pro Am days, then look somewhere else. If you're a serious glutton for punishment though, you'll be hard pressed to find a racing game of any kind for under the $10 mark. But remember dear reader, you get what you pay for with this title.

Overall: 3.0 / 10
Gameplay: 1.0 / 10
Visuals: 3.0 / 10
Sound: 3.5 / 10


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