Formula 1 With A Kick of Family Fun!: QB-sensei's F1 Race Stars review
Formula 1. Some say it is a rich man's game, where intense research and development is invested by the various participating teams to formulate the fastest racing car known to man. Some others see it as a high-octane racing competition, where races and even championships are won by miliseconds. Others merely soak in the fun of watching what is arguably one of the most prestigious racing competitions in the world.
However, what if you turn it into a Mario Kart-esque game, with power-ups and Nendoroid-like, chibified characters? You get F1 Race Stars.
Developed by Codemasters Racing, F1 Race Stars takes all the things you love about Formula 1 - from the high-speed adrenaline rush to the picturesque circuits - and mould them to fun-sized bits fit for the whole family.
As mentioned before, think Formula 1 meets a fun-filled kart racing game, in which the likes of Mario Kart and Crash Team Racing come to mind.
Hit the boost pads, utilise various pickups from weapons to power-ups, and use the KERS boost as you speed through your opponents to victory through various circuits reimagined from various F1 Grand Prix - from the rollercoaster-esque Abu Dhabi circuit to the high-flying Singapore circuit (where you get to boost up to the top of the Marina Bay Sands, but more on that later).
IMAGE SOURCE: GAMERZINES
Having been acquainted with the technicalities of Formula 1 for a few seasons, I was quite impressed with how the developers managed to grasp some of the real principles behind the F1 cars and translate them into fun aspects of the game.
For example, KERS (or kinetic energy recovery system) is used in F1 cars to recover its kinetic energy under braking, and in this game - since the game developers realise that KERS is generally used in braking, particularly in turns - they put the KERS pads along corners so that the player can accumulate kinetic energy and thus use the accumulated energy via KERS to give a speed boost, depending on how much energy was stored.
In addition, the drivers' roster that was used is accurate as of the 2012 F1 season, so you, the player, have the choice between the top drivers in Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and eventual winner Sebastian Vettel.
So what of the circuits? As mentioned earlier, the developers reimagined the real-life F1 circuits around the world and added fun elements to it. Being a proud Singaporean that I am, the very first circuit I took on was the Singapore circuit.
Starting off from the famed paddock under the Benjamin Sheares Bridge, I cruised through an unfamiliar arch before boosting up to the top of the Marina Bay Sands. Disregarding the CAAS regulations of no buildings or structures above 300 metres, I went up a high hairpin corner... and then the game crashed. But still, nothing makes you more proud to be a Singaporean than boosting up to the top of the Marina Bay Sands.
Speaking of crashes, the PC version is prone to it. Maybe it's just me, maybe it's my inferior laptop, but the fun just doesn't cut it when it keeps crashing whenever I have yet to start a race or even in mid-race. Partially for this reason, I fully recommend the console versions - the game is out on the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.
You can invite your friends and family, grab a controller each and have some entertaining round of F1 Race Stars on the consoles or you can take your skills online. If you have a PC with powerful specifications, however, that is an entirely different story. However, if you are planning to shell out on a Nintendo Wii U, you're in luck; a port for the Wii U will be released on 1st March 2013.
In conclusion, if you love Formula 1 and would want to have your friends, relatives and kids join in the fun, F1 Race Stars is a good racing game that is both fun for the whole family and also a breath of fresh air to all you know and love about Formula 1.
And remember that you can boost your way up to the top of Marina Bay Sands in this game.
On a final note, I wish you all a great 2013 ahead!