An F1 Karting game?! Whatever next! F1 Race Stars is a new concept and the first pure arcade type driving experience for the F1 franchise (aside from the PS1 F1 Arcade in 2000) but this takes things completely into the fun karting world. Think Mario Kart. Think weapons and powerups. Think 4 player split screen!
All 24 drivers of the 2012 season, plus two made up teams with some female drivers are included and 11 tracks fit the initial bill although I’d image track DLC will be milked. The 11 tracks is a somewhat disappointing number but I will say each track is about two minutes long a sumptuously filled with hazards and crazy corners galore. Initially I was also saddened that not all the drivers are on the grid either – 12 is the limit. Once things are going though you can see why it’d be difficult to have more for the time being – everything moves quickly and screen tear free.
There are three big differences that F1 Race Stars has to other kart racers. The first is that unlike most other games – you have to still brake! There are corners that are very tight or that have several lines and usually braking gives you the best run through. This is made all the more tactical as the karts handle like a cow. They understeer badly and so braking gets you back on track again. The second difference is that there’s no drift mechanic at all. Instead boosts are done in KERS zones which are usually tight corners where you pump the accelerator to charge your battery which then boosts you forward in one of three charge levels. The idea is novel and works better on some tracks than others. The final difference is that your kart can be damaged. The power ups which are bubbles to shoot at others or rain to make the track slippery, or the safety car to slow the leaders down can usually damage your car. That means you’ll need to use the several pitlanes around the track to repair. This is critical when racing on the harder difficulty as the AI certainly gang up on you and bundle you on the last laps.
Single player is fun even if you are ganged up on clearly by the AI but multiplayer is fantastic, both local and online with several different modes available including the unusual petrol races that require you to collect fuel cans to keep your car going, but having too much fuel slows the car down!
~Some unique gameplay mechanics
~Great graphic design and direction
~Great use of sound
~4 player local -YES YES!!!
~Not enough tracks/content compared to LittleBigPlanetKarting or Sonic & Sega All Stars Transformed
A great game that appears to be firmly aimed at the kids but is certainly a worthy addition to anyone’s racing catalogue. It is lighter on content then LPBK or Sonic Transformed though so if you want battle modes etc, go for those games first.