The demo of F1 Race Stars at the Eurogamer Expo is two laps of pure joy, it is what Mario Kart would be like if it was aimed towards more hardcore gamers. In short, it is a fun racing game with power-ups and crazy tracks. Oh and needless to say, F1 cars, although ones that have been slightly re-imagined.
Before I got the race started there was a nice camera walk through the grid with the drivers and their oversized heads sitting in their cars smiling and waving at each other. Near the front of the grid was Lewis Hamilton sitting proudly in his McLaren, though as we all know now, he won’t be there next year. Fortunately, F1 Race Stars should be out this November, so it will just about get away with having Hamilton in the McLaren still. The demo put me in the boots of McLaren, but having later played a two-player game as Roman Grosjean in the Renault, I didn’t notice any difference between drivers and cars.
When the race got going I immediately set my sights on the power-ups, they might not have the wild variety of Mario, but they are fun to use with speed boosts, rain traps and other funky tricks available. The track I was playing was in Germany and was complete with a nice trip through a forest and along the autobahn before returning to a stadium complex to complete the lap. It was certainly an interesting course to drive through with various speed boosts along the way and three different places to jump into the pits to get some running repairs. If all the tracks can match the art style and adventure I will be pleased, but I didn’t notice any secret routes. I might have just missed them, but it would be a shame if there aren’t any at all.
On my second test of the game I found myself stuck behind a safety car, I wasn’t expecting that and it hurt the flow of the race. It might have been a power-up one of the AI racers used to bring the pack back together, but I’m not convinced that slowing everyone down in such an arbitrary manner is a smart way to go. Having played the demo four or five times in all I only encountered the safety car once, and I still can’t identify why it appeared. Thus is the way of playing games at events like this.
Safety car aside, I enjoyed the few races I had, and while I won’t be rushing out to buy it straight away, I can definitely see it being a very competitive multiplayer game. It is also good to see retailers listing it at the £30 mark for the 360 and PS3 rather than the a £40 price tag putting it squarely in the party game sphere.