Whether you agree with me or not, I’d say that there are two kinds of popular racing game styles out there. One is the arcade style and the other being a true-to-life simulator. Your favorite maybe somewhere in between, but if memory serves me right, it didn’t win the crowd’s vote.
There’s no doubt Superstars V8 Racing is closer to a racing simulator. The game is based on the Superstars Series, which originated in Italy. The game mimics real tracks from Europe with real racers from around the world. Only V8 engine cars are allowed to enter the race, so now you know where the name came from.
Now, I’m not a hardcore racing simulator fan. I did enjoy the Forza series, but not as much as I enjoyed Burnout, Dirt and Sega Rally series. So, where does Superstars V8 Racing stand? I say right in between, and for the good reasons.
There are game modes that will satisfy almost every racing game fan. Besides the typical “Championship”, ”Training” and “Quick Race” modes, there’s a “Race Weekend” mode with which lots of licensed hobby racers can relate to. It has all the features of the Championship mode, like two practice sessions with one qualifying session before the race, but instead of touring Europe for the trophy, you just race for a weekend. And if you’re sick of racing with other cars, there’s a mode called “Superstars License.” Basically it’s a series of challenges that players can attempt within the certain parameters given. It’s nice to have variety, yes?
Between game modes, you will see tons of tweaking options to make Superstars V8 Racing feel like a true simulator. Well, at least that’s my answer as a typical arcade racing game fan. If you ask racing simulator fans, they will say that the game doesn’t even come close to being a true racing simulator. This is one of the reasons why I cannot give you a straight answer about this game’s realism as a simulator. It feels like a racing sim made for arcade racing fans. It has enough features for casual racing game fans to enjoy the title as a simulator, but it probably won’t satisfy hardcore racing sim fans.
So is it a good thing? Sure. The game might not have all the true-to-life ingredients, but to its limit the game represents racing experience very well. The default game option disables the Tire Wear and Car Damage, and it does a fine job for arcade racing game fans. You can turn those options on, and realism kicks in and shifts the game experience enough to please many players out there. In simple words, it has enough options to overwhelm typical gamers, should they choose to utilize them.
One other thing we’ve noticed is the graphics. It looks great on most parts, considering the price being $20. Our favorite was the wet road condition. While the gameplay is affected by the weather as it should be, the reflection of the beautiful clouds in the sky on the wet road was great. If you’re very picky about graphics, you might notice low-quality reflections from cars, but we’re guessing that it’s the gaming console’s limitation, not the developers.
More positive things we want to talk about is the replay, sound and controller vibration. SoundFX and BGM is definitely above average in my opinion. Also, devs did fantastic job on vibration on PS3 controller. The feedback emulates just right that it is very believable. During or after the race, you can replay your performance with almost every possible camera angle you can think of. Very rich in features indeed, but oddly it lacks of saving the replay which is a bummer if you wanted to show them off online or to your friends.
The one thing that irritated us the most was the stutter. Actually, it’s more like a whole-second pause in the middle of driving, and though it only happened on a couple of tracks, it does affect gameplay a lot. Maybe it’s our PS3 SKU, or maybe it’s a bug, but we found at least one other player who experienced the same stutter/pause on certain tracks. Imagine you’re in ahead of everyone else and suddenly you’re off the track because of this one-second pause on your screen. It’s a huge minus.
Another thing is the menu navigation. It’s well built but every time the player exits from the current race or menu, the game loads content twice, then saves the game, then loads the content again. These annoying steps will usually take 15 seconds at least. Each Championship game has two practice sessions, with one qualifying session and a race, so even if you’re in a hurry and skip the practice sessions, you would have to watch the loading screen for a good minute or so. There are texts to read on the loading screen, but they are so small and pass by so quickly giving you time to only finish a couple of sentences.
Another mixed bag is the way the game system works. Instead of choosing cars, players choose racers around the world, and the car comes with the racer; you cannot change that, ever. If you picked a racer with a BMW M5, you will have to use that car for the whole championship. And there aren’t that many cars and drivers to choose from. Well, you can always tweak the car settings and all, but it’s a weird setup for sure.
But our complains aside, when Superstars V8 Racing does its job by providing a good racing experience. There are enough modes to keep players busy for awhile. Online Multiplayer mode is also fun, runs smoothly with voice-chat support. And though I said that hardcore racing simulator fans won’t find this game much fun, I know for a fact that they will play Superstars V8 Racing anyways because of the value-price and for their love of cars. We just wished that there were more choices with less annoyance.
Our Score: 6.5 /10
A racing simulator that probably won’t satisfy racing simulator fans, but will satisfy the rest.