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F1 Race Stars Review

November is certainly not short of karting games as developers and gamers race towards Xmas. Sony and SEGA are both vying for any cash you have set aside for cartoon based racing and now Codemasters are also getting in on the act, albeit with a slightly different type of karting title.

F1 Race Stars is a cartoon style karting title, which takes what you know about Codemasters popular F1 series and whacks up the cheese factor to kid appealing levels. The problem though, well to me at least, is that the game seems to be a little confused as to who its audience actually is. F1 Race Stars retains much of what makes the official series so popular, such as licensed cars and drivers, as well as other elements of F1 racing, such as the pit stops and although these all take a non-serious approach, with over the top caricatures and bizarre twists on well known race tracks, it still struggles to capture the simplistic nature of what makes a karting game great.

The main problem I have with F1 Race Stars is that it all feels a little bland when you are driving around the track. In my opinion, one of the key elements of kart racing is the ability to power slide your way around a track in an over the top fashion, however I found cornering and overtaking in Race Stars more F1 than Mario Kart and to me this is a problem. Now you may say 'well isn't this the point?' and I guess in a way you could be right, however if this is the case then why bother? Will a serious F1 fan be really interested in a karting game based on the franchise when they already have a game from Codemasters in F1 2012, which offers the best F1 experience gaming can buy. And what of the children? Do they really want to play a game based on characters and cars that they are probably not familiar with? Especially when there are similar games around which provide a more fun and more accessible experience.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think F1 Race Stars is a bad game, far from it. For one it looks fantastic, with it's bright colourful tracks and over the top races. A lot of detail has also went into the numerous game modes you'll play along the way, both in single player and online. If you can get over the awkward handling of the cars (specifically at corners) then you'll probably enjoy the feature packed campaign which F1 Race Stars offers. One of the other benefits of F1 Race Stars is that it does try to differentiate itself from other karting games out there and apart from in the areas already mentioned, this is actually a breath of fresh air.

As with any racing game, F1 Race Stars provides a whole load power-ups for you to pick up and utilise as you race around the track. Power ups include the likes of Rain Cloud, which cast a cloud above everyone's head, causing rain fall and the cars to slow down and Safety car, which has a car appear ahead of the leader of the race, allowing others to catch up. There are also numerous other power ups such as boosts to catch you up with the pack; balloons which when driven into impair the drivers vision and bubbles, which capture the driver and car for a limited time. Another twist to the power ups is that each team has a different ability in this area, for instance Ferrari is the only team that can fire rockets backwards, while other teams get different abilities, such being able to drop more mines etc.

The power ups also help add another twist to the game, for instance, these can damage your car which in turn will see you being prompted to pit your car at various points in the track, which is usually essential if you want to win the race. The more you get into the game, the more of these quirky little nods to F1 that you'll discover, be it the ability to get into cars slipstreams or the KERS zones; coloured tracks which allow you to pump the accelerator to build up KERS and receive a boost when coming out of the corner.

As you'd expect, each race you take part in will choose a different venue from around the world for you to compete in. This is where the game's sense of humor really comes into play, seeing you driving all manner of highly exaggerated locations which replace sections of your favorite track with all manner of bizarre stereotypes, such as the high speed autobahns of Germany to the Ferrari Rollercoaster in Abu Dhabi. You'll even find yourself driving through river rapids in one track. Each track does provide nods to its real life F1 counterpart, but again I fail to see who'll really appreciate these, unless the plan is for ardent F1 fans to go out and buy a game that takes itself a little less seriously.

There is certainly plenty to keep you busy in F1 Race Stars, for instance each event has three classes starting at 1000cc to 3000cc. There are also various races to take part in from the standard to others such as Refuel Racket, which has you trying to refuel as you go around the track; Pole Position, which rewards you points each time you lead the pack and Elimination Nation, in which a counter eliminates the car at the back until only one is left. There are many more game modes too, which at least helps add a little variety to the campaign.

Multiplayer in F1 Race Stars is split into two parts, four player split-screen and online. The great thing about this is that you can combine the two, so if you have friends at home then you should be able to take part in 12 player online races with four players on the same console. The online racing is fun enough and certainly adds an element of competition that you perhaps don't get in the single player experience, although I'm not sure this will be enough to make the game stand out amongst the Xmas crowd.

As mentioned, I'm not really sure who F1 Race Stars will appeal to. I can't really see many children being desperate to play as caricatures of real life F1 stars and even if they were, I'm not sure the game is accessible enough to appeal. Maybe some F1 fans will get a kick out of this, but with bigger and better karting games coming out this month, I'm pretty certain that this one will be speeding into the bargain bin in the not so distant future.

Words by Joe Anderson.

(Version Tested: PS3)


- Lots of content
- Brilliantly colourful graphics
- Breath of fresh air in the karting genre


- Won't appeal to everyone
- Released so closed to other karting games

Edited On 13 Nov, 2012

( 13 )
Anonymous user's avatar
Tyrone 4 years ago
Very nice review. Couldn't see myself buying it personally BUT It could be a nice stocking filler for some kids!
lou86's avatar
lou86 4 years ago
Sounds ok but give me LBP Karting any day
SuperJag86's avatar
SuperJag86 4 years ago
I think if I was a young kid or had children this might be interesting as the art style is fantastic. The problem for me is you can't drift so it feels really wrong as a kart racer.
Robichoico's avatar
Robichoico 4 years ago
I guess it passes the time until Mario Kart Wii U comes out. Truthfully, I'm still getting time out of Mario Kart 7. I've yet to really be impressed with Sonic Mario Kart or Little Mario Karting enough to warrant buying them. (I do tell a lie, I did buy the Sonic one a few years back. Hated it.)
kwok007's avatar
kwok007 4 years ago
Played the demo and it was quite fun but not a game I'd buy
Dead's avatar
Dead 4 years ago
I thought it was very average from the Demo, not one I'd waste my money one. Interested to see what the new Sonic one is like though, quite liked the first one.
rick75fowler's avatar
rick75fowler 4 years ago
i be getting this for my son for crimbo as he loves his karting games(honest!!!) it does appeal more to the children than adults but im sure he will love this and beat me a lot his only 6 but damn his a good gamer!!! good review as well and im sure he will enjoy it like all his other games
adwan's avatar
adwan 4 years ago
Has anyone tried to drift an actual Go Kart? You can do little slides, but not massive drifts like in karting games.
Dead's avatar
Games aren't meant to be realistic you know, at least they never used to be.
Dead 4 years ago
Bruticus's avatar
haha Has anyone tried to actually kill a Corpser?
Bruticus 4 years ago
rjc's avatar
rjc 4 years ago
Still need to try the demo of this, not an F1 fan but I love karting games.
Barada's avatar
Barada 4 years ago
I guess other consoles need their 'Mario Kart' experience just like Nintendo. Not seen this game in action but suddenly, Kart racing appears to be in vogue (or the publishers think so!) again. F1 has taken itself so serious for decades, about time they had a sense of humour and licensed this type of thing.
My wee boy absolutely loves the demo of this he plays it for hours lol so Santa will have to step upto the plate here :)

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