Review: Superstars V8 Next Challenge
It's not hard to make a good or even decent racing game. There's certainly none of the concerns that other genres have such as narrative or characters. That doesn't mean you can't get ti wrong.
- Worth The Time?Don't touch it with a 10 foot steering column
- Things LovedNot much but it is fun at times.
- Things HatedThere are so many reasons to not want to play this game. It's dated, visually lacking, unimaginative, has poor physics, a great lack of variety. Not to mention there is nobody on the servers to play against.
- RecommendationDon't buy it, plain and simple. It's not horrid but it is dated, unimaginative and dull. There are games from the PS2 era which are better and there are plenty of games which are more entertaining and better at being a good racing title.
- Name: Superstars V8: Next Challenge
- Genre: Racing
- Players: 1-16
- Multiplayer: Online
- Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
- Developer: Milestone
- Publisher: Black Bean Games
- Price: R250 (PC), R500 (PS3, Xbox 360)
- Reviewed On: PS3
Superstars V8: Next Challenge is based on the Italian Superstars Championship V8-racing series which recently included our very own Kyalami as one of its tracks. It is also the sequel to Superstars V8 Racing.
There are 19 drivers from 9 different racing teams for you to choose from but this is of little consequence as the only stats which matter are that of the car. All nineteen drivers are available from the start of the game; no doubt to avoid showing preference to any one driver as they are the actual drivers from the Superstars racing series. On the topic of cars, there are 11 different vehicles available:
- BMW E92 M3 (that’s the new one)
- BMW E90 M3 (that’s the four-door new one)
- BMW E39 M5
- BMW E60 550i
- Jaguar S-Type R
- Audi RS4
- Chevrolet CR8
- Maserati Quattroporte
- Mercedes-Benz C63
- Cadillac CST-V
- Chrysler 300C SRT-8
There are generally two versions of each car although in some cases you will find 3 of a certain car or just one. Each car is tied to the respective driver that races it. A lot of the cars sound very similar, but there is a noticeable difference in handling, for example: the CR8 drifts quite well while the M3 can recover quickly from a spin or collision while the M5 handles rather poorly. There are also realism settings where you can toggle things such as tire wear on and off. You also get driver aids that indicate when a turn is coming up but it is rather boring to take a turn properly because anything under 120 kph seems unnervingly slow.
There are 11 available tracks, but 8 of these are available for Quick Race from the start of the game. This leaves only 3 tracks to unlock which exhibits the full extent of the unlockables which actually matter. There is a Relaxation Corner in the Extras menu where you can unlock such wonders as an armchair and pink bunny puppet. What the point of these things is is a mystery to me as I did not bother to try unlocking them. These unlockables are tied directly to the game’s trophies so as to give you some sort of tangible reward which is rather nice.
You can also fine-tune your driving skills by playing through the driving and racing schools and subsequently the respective academies. These do not affect the game in any way though and are more like glorified, optional tutorials.
The race types are rather standard, with your usual quick race, time trial and race weekend. The time trial sees you set a lap-time and then try to beat it while following your own shadow. The race weekends are interesting though in that you first do a qualifying session in which you try to set the best lap-time and similar to F1, the grid positions are based on lap-times. You then do Race 1 which is a 3-lap circuit, after which you do Race 2 where the grid positions are based on the results of Race 1 except the first 8 positions are reversed. You can also play through the entire series which is essentially a race weekend on every track.
There is little point in playing through the series as it doesn’t lead to much, you do not unlock anything special, except maybe the Superstars Cup, if you’re into that sort of thing. The quick races are fun and the time-trials are mildly challenging but the game as a whole suffers from the fact that it is about 6 years too late. The game is not really that bad at the core but racers are more than just their gameplay, racers are all about eye-popping graphics which push the consoles limits and a wide variety of vehicles to suit every taste. Superstars has none of these things.
While it claims to have ‘incredible vehicle models and photo realistic environments’ it does not. The graphics are straight out of GT 4 and so are the environments. Some of the soundtrack even sounds like something I heard while playing GT 4. Some of the details on the cars are in fact so incongruous that I saw better detailing in NFS: Carbon.
The screenshot above is from Superstars V8, released in 2010. below is a screenshot from Gran Turismo 4, released in 2004 /05. Just compare the two.
None of the textures that you see on cars in NFS: SHIFT or GT 5 are present. All cars also suffer from what I call ‘bumper-car’ physics where if you rear-end a car, it just bounces up a little bit and gets shunted forward despite one of the ‘realism’ settings being vehicle damage. The damage to cars is limited to innocuous scratches on the body and broken glass on the tail-lights.
There is just not enough to make you want this game. Need for Speed has its customization while Gran Tursimo & Forza have their over-the-top realism & graphics and mammoth range of vehicles. There is no motivation to play the game for more than an hour as there is no reward for it. You do not unlock new cars or parts or anything really (save for those 3 tracks).
While I did not explore the online gameplay very extensively, it came as no surprise that there are not too many people available online. Other than that, it was just more of the same really, racing against other people and such; nothing really out of the ordinary.
The game is certainly not challenging. I drove like a drunken sailor, pulling handbrake turns everywhere and using fellow drivers as buffers and yet I still managed to stay first for two thirds of the race, before I drifted straight into a wall and discovered that reverse, unlike every other racing game is not L2 (left trigger) but circle. There is also a strange penalty where if you are on the gravel or grass for too long or use it to plough straight through a corner, you cannot accelerate for a certain number of seconds.