F1 Race Stars Review
Overall 7

Turning something normally reserved for adults into a cartoon for all ages can be tricky. Not only is it harder than transforming an apple into an orange, the result might not end up pleasing anyone at all. That hasn’t stopped Codemasters from changing the serious into the silly in their latest racer, F1 Race Stars

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F1 Race Stars Review

Turning something normally reserved for adults into a cartoon for all ages can be tricky. Not only is it harder than transforming an apple into an orange, the result might not end up pleasing anyone at all. That hasn’t stopped Codemasters from changing the serious into the silly in their latest racer, F1 Race Stars. Do these formula racers wear their big heads with pride, or is this a makeover gone wrong?

Despite the fact that F1 Race Stars pays tribute to some of the finest formula racers in the world, their wheels feel more like go-karts this time around. However, those worried that this change comes at the expense of gameplay need not worry; racing with 1000CC to 3000CC engine classes allows players to enjoy the game at whatever speed they feel comfortable with – literally.

Being a kart-style racer, any sense of realism in F1 Race Stars is thrown out of the window in favor of cartoon antics. Bright colors, rounded objects, and freak rainstorms make what would normally be a Sunday drive into something more at home in a Saturday morning cartoon. Power-ups aren’t safe either; while Formula-themed pickups like tiny Safety Cars are welcome additions, more racing examples would be welcome in lieu of the vanilla selection of multi-colored balloons.

Of course, a racer is as only as good as its racetracks, and in this regard, F1 Race Stars delivers. Packing 11 tracks (before DLC) from countries around the world, each race has shortcuts, loops, and an odd Ferris wheel. Each track plays off a different stereotype from its respective country, but seeing robotic sumo wrestlers in Japan or hearing didgeridoos in Australia is harmless fun. Karting staples like tighter drifting mechanics and mid-air tricks are sadly MIA, but the game’s forgiving handling and simpler controls makes for a much easier barrier of entry for both newcomers and veterans to enjoy.

Well, except for one thing. F1 Race Stars includes damage for each vehicle, meaning that the slightest hazard causes your ride to fall to pieces. To remedy this, pit stops are available at multiple spots on each track. It is nice that repairs can be done by simply driving through them, but seeing how often they need to be done (and how crucial they are for success), this added mechanic can get annoying fast. If the focus was more on racing and less on car repair, the experience would be much less stressful as a result.

F1 Race Stars packs a bare-bones career mode, which consists of 30 different selections of the game’s 11 tracks. A decent online mode is present with support for teams and up to 12 people online, but those looking for some legs in this kart racer will be disappointed.

Ultimately, F1 Race Stars is a solid racing game that plays it safe. Whether this is because of the license or something else is unknown, but its paltry list of modes and features just can’t trump Mario Kart. However, considering how much of a head start Nintendo’s racing series got, I look forward to all the improvements that Codemasters will be bringing in the (inevitable) follow-up next season

A rookie that has got the fundamentals down, but not the experience

This review is based on a retail copy of the PS3 version of F1 Race Stars