Publisher: O Games
ESRB rating: Everyone
Release date: Available Now
What do you suppose happens when a race-car driver needs to scratch his nose during a tense fender-to-fender battle? What about if they sneeze? It’s questions like these that prevent me from ever pursuing a serious career in motor sports (aside from go-karts), because one wrong move can mean “game over” real quick. This hard lesson was brought to me by Superstars V8 Racing, and although I’m thankful for what it has taught me, race fans should weigh their options carefully before they register for this class.
There are only two main rules in this Italian racing league: your car needs to sport a V8 engine, and it has got to have four seats in the cab. Other than that, the first high-class grocery-getter across the finish line gets to stand on the center tier of the podium. There are 19 cars to choose from, including Jaguars, BMWs and Audis, plus a couple of made-for-the-game models thrown in for creative measure. I was confused at first, because I’d never heard of a “Mustard E1” – probably because they don’t actually exist.
But the locales do, and they take you all over Italy, Spain and South Africa in your quest for high-horsepower dominance. You can jump in for a quick race; commit to the championship; get a little training; or, in what has become my favorite mode, take on the Superstars licenses. These tests of motor meddle are broken into four sections: Countdown, in which you’re tasked with completing a section of track in a given time; Special Trials, which require you to complete specific racing feats; Duels, which is pretty much self-explanatory; and Race Scenarios, in which you must complete races with a handicap of some sort.
It was in these modes that I found most of my enjoyment in Superstars V8 Racing. Unfortunately, the rest of the game feels bland and soulless. This could be because I fancy myself an arcade racer over a sim racer, so my jabs should be taken with a grain of salt. I will say this: the car models look lovingly crafted, and the staggering amount of stuff you can tweak on your ride will keep gear heads plenty entertained. Adjust the gear ratios, change your tires – heck, you can even adjust the angle of your spoiler in pursuit of an edge on the competition.
And this might be just what Superstars needs to garner itself a stateside fanbase. This is a niche game, folks; it caters to Euro race fans who prefer the throaty sound of a V8, and not much else. It almost makes me think of a first-person shooter in which all you get to use are shotguns. Sure, the shotgun fans are thrilled, but you risk alienating the pistol, machine gun and sniper-rifle users in the process. There are also a few stutters here and there during races that make me think there is an issue with the disc. Problem was, I downloaded this game.
Ultimately, Superstars V8 Racing is going to appeal to race fans who seek it out on purpose. You have to remember that the biggest racing game of the decade is about to roll over the horizon (some day, if they stop delaying it) and claim its rightful spot once again. Still, Superstars is only $20 and comes with online multiplayer, so the replay value is there. I guess it all depends on how hard up your are for your next racing sim fix. I, for one, can wait.