F1 Race Stars Hands-On Preview – Micro Machines
Written Tuesday, October 23, 2012 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
F1 Race Stars can be summed up in just a few words. It's Super Formula One Kart. For a preview however that simply won't suffice, so we'd better think of a few more things to say about Codemasters' foray into family friendly racing. Besides, there's quite a lot of new bits and bobs to talk about since our last hands-on with the game at Gamescom in August. This latest build of F1 Race Stars features a variety of game modes and a full suite of cars and drivers, including a few female ones that have been chucked in to keep the ladies happy. We've already covered power-ups and KERS boosting in our previous preview, so we're going to focus more on F1 Race Stars' modes for this hands-on.
Diving straight into a quick race against a friend in split-screen (which supports up to 4-players), the action is immediate pick up and play stuff, with a pleasingly bold and chunky art style. It's something that's bound to have universal appeal, and with the range of modes on offer, it'll even have something for the ardent race fan to indulge in. Having three skill levels – 1000cc, 2000cc and 3000cc – also caters to a wide audience, while the 12 official teams each have their own unique abilities or 'Constructor Bonus'. This encourages a little bit of experimentation with different drivers, and all 24 are in with their own personalities and caricatured visages.
There's also a variety of weapons to fire at your opponents, based upon the actual sport of F1 for the most part. There's clearly a great deal of artistic licence being taken with ricochet bubbles, entrapment bubbles and champagne bottle missiles being somewhat removed from real-world Formula One though, which s fine by us. F1 Race Stars is pure cartoon fun, so it all works like it should and the weapons all seem to be perfectly well-balanced. Beyond the standard 12 car race (one from each team), there's Elimination mode, in which the last place straggler is out of the race once the timer runs out. Upon being eliminated you can still meddle in the race with your pulse power up, which knocks rival racers off course.
Pole Position mode rewards the player in first place with points, meaning a desperate tussle to be at the front of the pack, while Sector Snatch has you competing for track supremacy by completing marked track sectors in the fastest time possible. The racer with the fastest times on the most sectors wins. Then there's Refuel mode, wherein you pick up fuel to keep driving, while attempting to balance your car's weight as it takes on board whatever gas you collect. Obviously, lighter cars drive faster and fuelled up cars can drive for longer, making for some pretty exciting risk/reward gameplay.
Finally, Trophy Chase has you collecting trophies from the track and attempting to hit rivals with weapons to make them drop their collected trophies. It's yet another frantic game mode that'll undoubtedly keep you playing solo and with friends. That's before you take into account the Career Championships that can be played with up to 4-players, Time Trial mode and the 12-player online playlists, which are absent from this current preview code. In short, F1 Race Stars is a big, fully-featured racing game in every sense.
It's also all kinds of fun to play, and while drifting isn't possible – F1 cars don't tend to drift, of course – making cornering tighter than you'd expect from a cartoon karting game, F1 Race Stars is still accessible, entertaining and a great laugh with like-minded friends. F1 Race Stars is essentially F1 2012's carefree little brother then, which could make it one of those games that does the rounds in your multiplayer gaming sessions. There's certainly more than enough content to keep you occupied, and with a host of inventive and neat modes to play, F1 Race Stars is shaping up to be a worthwhile addition to the arcade-style kart racing sub-genre.
F1 Race Stars is out on November 13th. You can check out 13 new screenshots in the gallery.