While Codemasters have specialised in dry and polished driving simulations (rather than games), F1 All Stars provide an interesting twist on the tried and tested Nintendo Mario Kart formula. Choose from a roster of 24 elite drivers (Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and a few ladies) and twelve F1 teams (Red Bull, Scuderia, Williams…) race head to head around fifteen Grand Prix circuits. “Interesting” modifications to the tracks include shortcuts, loop the hoop, ski jumps and kinetic accelerators.
Playability: Power up
Grab your keyboard or your controller and drive like a wide eyed child in an amusement park. It is not necessary to have a driving license or to read the user manual to enjoy F1 All Stars. A few friendly tips will occasionally grace your screen, but for the most part accelerating and steering left and right will do. Picking up power ups and using them (missile bubbles, party confetti, teleport…) to hinder your opponents or to pick up some speed becomes rapidly intuitive.
Annoyance: Too fast, a little too furious
F1 All Stars is (unfortunately) not child’s play. Codemasters’ propensity for tuning up tricky driving simulations is probably second nature. The whole point of casual kart racing is to actually cause mayhem among competitors. Miss a few turns, and you’ll find yourself hopelessly outpaced with no opportunity of catching up. Luckily a local coop mode will provide satisfying payback time against one’s spouse, children, parents and friends, leaving the cheating AI on the side of the tracks.
Beauty: Smiling pastel drive
While the drivers are faithful cartoon caricatures of real life stars, the circuits are the stars of the game. Expect giant sumotoris and shinkansen rides in Tokyo. Avoid majestic carnival floats in Rio. Zoom down roller coasters in Abu Dhabi. Leap around Singapore’s high rise towers. F1 All Stars has charming and appealing graphics with just enough pastel cartoons, and without the usual accompanying sensory overload.
The Old Video Gamer’s Prattle: Sparkling fun for all star finish 8/10
Fun cruising doesn’t seem to be popular with the current PC crowd. F1 Race Stars scratches the much needed itch for casual driving with power ups for quick fun with friends and family. Sometimes you just need a good arcade racing game with crazy kart physics for improbable stunts. Sleek graphics and creative circuits with imaginative animations put nice finishing touches to F1 Race Stars.