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After investigating the rules (has to be a V8 – obviously – but entrants can run cars with engines from three to seven litres, and they can be models of anything up to ten years old) the relaxed attitude to what can compete should definitely make for some interesting racing. Not quite so interesting in the game though; such an unbalanced grid means you’ll have to ramp up the difficulty and flick off all the driver aids if you want anything that even resembles competition.
Still, once properly set up to a level which matches your skill, even gamers spoilt by the likes of Forza 3 and Race Driver: GRID will give the game an appreciative nod. Sure, Superstars V8 Racing: Next Challenge is as no-frills as a motorway Travelodge and the next morning’s Little Chef breakfast, and it’s comprehensively outclassed by Turn 10’s sim (which, circuits aside, can do pretty much everything this can and a whole lot more). But the handling is tight, the graphics are crisp (thankfully that icky haze effect from the original game has been dumped) and the V8s grumble with purpose. Certainly much better than some of the efforts from Gran Turismo, which can sound like a schoolboy farting through a kazoo…
But whilst what is contained within Next Challenge is very competently done, it’s what’s missing that made our enthusiasm wane – no proper damage model, no quality unlockables (you get all the cars and circuits straight from the off and your only incentive to win is a few videos and ‘artworks’), and a Career mode completely lacking in aspiration. Even the chance to enter our own team and paint a car up a bit would have been something.
So… Superstars V8 Racing: Next Challenge isn’t so much cheap and nasty; more a pared-back racer that could provide some inoffensive racing on some unusual circuits. If the original game is anything to go by, it’ll cost less than a tenner in a few months’ time and at that price we’d pick up the keys and take it for a spin.
Mar 26, 2010