Review: F1 Race Stars

Scroll down to win a copy of the game!

Zipping out of the blue earlier this year and firmly clinging onto the racing line with its stubby little hands, Codemasters’ new pint-sized spin-off F1 Race Stars is a delightful, well-balanced package of fun for up to four players. Sitting comfortably alongside the full-blown F1 2012Race Stars has its own place in the Formula One gaming lineage and, far from forcing its way in, has more than earned it by being a high quality kart racer which sticks to its principles.

Developer: Codemasters
Publisher: Codemasters
Reviewed on: PS3
Also Available On: Xbox 360, PC
Release Date: Available Now

F1 Race Stars succeeds in standing out from the likes of LittleBigPlanet Karting and granddaddy Mario Kart by refusing to sacrifice the links to the sport it’s inspired by. That means no drifting mechanics, the occasional show of affection for the racing line and a realm of F1-inspired power-ups and features.

Racing as a variety of chunkily styled F1 drivers from the current season – as well as a few female drivers in the name of equal opportunities (which the sport itself is rubbish at) – F1 Race Stars takes you across the globe to 11 circuits inspired by their real-life counterparts and hyper-inflated nationality quirks. The Belgian circuit sends you along the swooping ‘Eau Rouge’ curve of Spa and a chocolate factory without blinking an eye, while Monaco retains Monte Carlo’s tight hairpins, tunnels and chicanes whilst also taking you through the hills above the city whilst regaling you with a Matt Monroe-esque soundtrack. From Germany’s oompah-scored castles to the UK’s speed cameras and red Routemaster buses, every circuit is given a friendly skewering as far as stereotypes go – as is every driver’s accent – which lends each circuit a distinct personality as well as decent variety in their layouts.

Split screen karting lives on in F1 Race Stars and its immaculate balancing ensures things will always stay close.

Racing on these circuits is utterly brilliant because, in the spirit of F1 itself, Race Stars is completely unpredictable. It stays unpredictable by balancing everything from power-ups to in-race mechanics – meaning that everybody will, at some point, have a shot at making it to the front of the pack. When closer to the front, you will pick up mines, missiles and vision-obscuring confetti balloons to hold folk back; but at the rear, you may find yourself with a performance-enhancing DRS mod (complete with literal wheels of steel) or the opportunity to unleash a rain storm for which only your car has the right tyres. If that weren’t enough to stymie the opposition, you also have the Adorable Safety Car™ teleported ahead of you, sirens blazing, to slow the rest of the pack down. It’s a shame that the usual mines and missiles are generic-looking coloured bubbles – itself potentially causing problems for colourblind gamers – especially as the more original power-ups have been given such due care and attention.

Each race is, power-ups included, an endlessly shifting war of balances. Taking hits from power-ups damages your car, sending pieces flying; the only way to repair it and bring your car back up to speed is to pit, which can mix the pack up – especially if you had been charging ahead. Striped blue turbo sections deliver a triple-whammy KERS boost – named after the battery of extra power F1 drivers can dispense – when you pump the accelerator, meaning you need to moderate your speed against the heavily understeering handling lest you plough into a crash barrier. Each circuit also features a hidden key which unlocks a race-changing shortcut –  but accessing the key involves taking a longer route and you might get beaten to the punch by another driver. Even then, power-ups will keep you in the game should you screw up, Race Stars‘ systems omnipresently watching over everything like a 700 horsepower yin-yang.

Brilliantly balanced and novel kart racing for up to four players
Inventive use of the Formula One license
Clean, chunky visuals and bouncy soundtrack
Just a handful of tracks

Each race, whether alone or with friends, is immensely satisfying and everything from circuits to power-up displacement has been carefully considered and designed. The result is a highly original Red Bull-fuelled kart racer which has made excellently creative use of its prestigious license. Those seeking a new game to play with mates in the same room – of which there simply aren’t enough – need look no further for an essential addition to their collection.

Review copy provided by Codemasters/Lunch PR.
Official Game Site

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WIN F1 Race Stars!

Thanks to Codemasters we have a copy of F1 Race Stars to give away to one BigRedBarrel reader on the format of their choice. To enter, leave a comment below answering the following question: if you could add one rule to Formula One, what would it be?

Closing date is Friday 23rd November.

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  1. karbaasi92

    They would use gaming consoles to race. That would save the planet from exhaust gas and save a lot of money too. Also, that would market eSports in a whole new way!

  2. SolidJackal

    Thumb wrestling after every 5 laps, the leader will have to face the person that is last, second will face second last and so on . So it kinda of gives anyone a chance to win at the last second.
    Also Good Review

  3. Chris-Toffer

    Clearly it’s got to be a mirrored mode competition, that takes place every other week whereby the courses are played in reverse, Mario Kart style. Throw in a few giant banana peels for good measure.

  4. Zombellic

    Seriously I’d start races with cars lined up in the reverse order of their championship points, so Vettel last with Alonso, Kimi, Hamilton & Button just in front of him.

    My joke answer is after the race instead of awarding points to the drivers change the post race interview into a talent show style plea for the public vote With Murray Walker, Bennie Ecclestone, Rebecca Black and George Michael commenting on the drivers performances .

    This might mean that Ferrari win every race but it often seems that that is what the rule makers want anyway.

  5. Honor_Bound

    They should take a shot for every pit stop.

  6. Kenji hood

    Spending limit. It would close the gap between the top three teams and the middle teams.

  7. Jeremy

    I’d add a limiter to each of the cars so when they get a penalty it’s real time not a stint in the pit stop. You jumped a safety car you can go at 50pmh for a bit. Imagine having say 3 slowdowns per race where you can press a button and the driver in front has to slow down a little so you can have overtaking attempts. Would be far more exciting for sure as you’d have to choose your times right to use it. 🙂

  8. Princess Sparkles

    A parallel parking challenge in the pit lane…

  9. Jen

    Any Driver who fails to set a lap within 107 percent of the fastest time in the first qualifying session will not be allowed to start the race and should be booted in the face.

  10. Goof

    Video games suck.

  11. mcdoodle

    They should totally introduce random car swaps. Bowl of keys at the door and each driver takes one as they go out for their practice. It would certainly even out the playing field and prove that the best drivers really are the best.

    Actually, i’m not sure that Formula 1 cars have keys. Whatever the alternative is then. Steering wheels maybe?

  12. Halfway through the race, the driver must pull into a layby, exit their vehicle, strip nude, burn their clothes, and then, before finishing the race, complete one of the following tasks:

    1) Write a great novel in ballpoint pen on the underside of their thigh

    2) Melt the Eiffel Tower

    3) Really understand the factors that caused the Russian Revolution

    4) Compose a melancholy tune

    5) Kiss a brick

  13. alexzafro

    Really would love to play this game! Great review!

  14. alexzafro

    Rule I would add : Reverse grid for 2 of the races in the season. These races will be randomly picked!

  15. Shaxster

    My rule: at the end of each lap the person in last place’s car gets blown up 😉 (we would have to figure out a way to do this without injuries/deaths. I’m working on it).

  16. Oldest_Ancient

    Glad this seems to be reviewing relatively well but I’m not totally sure the market exists for a karter without Mario in the title.

    For a new rule bring back refuelling but make it real petrol stations, drivers have to fill up and pay themselves, time can be saved by landing on .00 pence and passing up on the sweet sweet nectar points.

    • “Not sure if there’s a market for a kart game without Mario in the title.”
      For anyone who only turns their Wii on to play karting this replaces the need for a 2nd consoles. I like many sold my Wii cos I never use it but miss having a good karting game.

      I’m hoping that I win the comp otherwise I’m going to ask for it for crimbo.

  17. Anakha

    I’d like to add the reverse rule. Every driver must complete a full lap in reverse. That would also bring some exitement to the sport where other drivers must evade cars that are oncoming in full reverse 🙂

  18. Tom (GunslingerX1983)

    It’s simple isn’t it??? … Every course has a jump in it 🙂

  19. Jason Allan

    I love karting games, obviously Mariokart and DIDDY Kong racing are two of my all time favorites, I hear this has local multiplayer as well which is spot on for me and the kids to do split screen!

  20. Lewis McKenny

    Wow this game looks so good!. Reminds me of Mario Kart, but with Xbox controls this game would be so much better to control. Great Review.

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