In short

F1 Race Stars takes the Formula One official licenses to a humorous, arcade racing platform. The drivers, cars and tracks get the cartoon treatment in a racing experience much like the Mario Kart series. Players can compete in multiplayer modes, single races or take on the official F1 calendar in 100, 200 and 300 cc cars in the singleplayer modes.

Developer: Codemasters Racing
Publisher: Codemasters Racing
Distributor: Megarom Interactive
For fans of: Arcade racers, Mario Kart
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Also available on: Playstation 3
If we had to give it a numerical score: 7/10

F1 Race Stars takes all the official, drivers, tracks and cars to a completely whacky arcade setting where F1 fans will still recognise the ‘bobble-head looking’ drivers and even the parts of the tracks. I say “most” of the tracks as Codemasters did throw in more than just a few twists. So while you will recognise some of the corners, the bulk of the tracks look like something straight out of a theme park. Australia for example; racing next to the sea will have you contending with crashing waves, and you will even ramp straight into a shark’s head which becomes a tunnel. Tracks feature loops, tunnels and all sorts of whacky elements.

Drivers also need to contend with other drivers and the various humorous booby-traps that you pick up along the way by driving over them. Objects or traps that you can shoot either forward or drop behind for unsuspecting drivers in you wake. They will make you laugh more than ruin your lap times, until you push the difficulty level right up. There are traps that will slow you down or obstruct your view – if you’ve played any whacky arcade racer, then you will know more or less what to expect. So because of this, you cars will still take damage, requiring regular pits-stops to patch the car up. Pit-stops are a basic drive-through and will hardly effect your time.

The multiplayer is straight forward – choose tracks, drivers, engine size etc. and take of friends. The singleplayer content with multi-race events, allows players to switch-up the rules and can therefore make the racing as easy or as difficult as they would like.

The Verdict

The only major design element that was a let-down for me, and I understand that the developers were wanting to keep a little to the F1 racing theme when making the design decisions, was that the success of your racing will somewhat still depend on how smoothly you can get around the track. Drivers still need to be somewhat consistent with their braking, and even your use of a boost or ‘Kers’ system plays a major role when you push the difficulty level up. Braking and steering takes the primary role, while the whacky elements will only give you an edge.

I was also particularly disappointed that you cannot drift – the devs were probably again staying true to the sport. I can’t remember a kart or whacky racer where you can’t turn on your axis.  So at first I would bump every barrier on every other corner until I got used to the fact that I actually need to brake. I understand that this stays true to F1, but I suspect sliding around the track would only induce more fun. I think that if you are going to make a completely over-the-top racing game, then don’t hold back at all.

This is exactly the sort of game you take out to enjoy with friends and family and despite my reservation about the driving-physics; I had and will continue to have a blast with the family and friends. At the moment, F1 Race Stars has even taken New Super Mario Bros. 2 on the 3DS off the top spot in my four year-old daughter’s top games-list. She also has absolutely no reservations about the game and I suspect her rating of the game would be a little closer to perfect. She is also costing me a small fortune in virtual money for accessories Codies have on offer.