Superstars V8 Racing Review (Xbox360)

With the ultimate racing series making a delayed return to store shelves this winter, it’s surprising when other racing titles appear among release lists. Superstars V8 Racing may only be a PSN game, but it attempts to take an arcade approach to the discipline, so as to streamline the experience to the essential parts. The result is definitely a success, but should those drooling over Gran Turismo 5 still pay attention?

In terms of content, Superstars V8 Racing goes above and beyond compared to most titles found on the PlayStation Store, with plenty of ways to experience the arcade style racing on offer. Tournament Mode is exactly how you would imagine, taking you across a series of increasingly more difficult courses racing past your rivals in your supercar of choice. You get plenty of opportunities to practice each course before your qualifying race, this process adding to both the time you’ll end up devoting to V8 Racing and to just how enjoyable the experience can become.

You’ll be driving insanely fast in Superstars V8 Racing, the arcade style makes this a breeze

Outside of tournaments, Race Weekends see you taking part in a single race, from early car tweaking on the first day to the victory lap on the Sunday (minus the celebratory champagne at the winners podium), you experience it all. Quick Race is self explanatory too, although sadly the same can’t be said for the various menus it can take to unearth the mode you really want to play.

This is the first of my problems with Superstars V8 Racing, and where the lack of an instruction booklet is actually a negative thing. It took me nearly 20 minutes to realise I had simply been playing a practice lap rather than competing in an actual race. You would think that the option to progress to the next part of a race weekend would be clearly labelled, but instead you need to scroll down and go two menus deep to choose the skip option. It’s annoying when these kind of confused menu systems make their way into options like Quick Race too, supposedly the simplest way to get involved in the racing.

It’s even more of a shame because of how good the racing actually is, probably the most impressive driving gameplay the PSN has ever seen. With handling similar to Race Driver: GRID, but courses much more akin to Gran Turismo, it can take a little while to master, this being the most fun aspect of most racers anyway. You always feel in control, easing your finger on and off the trigger to slide round corners and around other competitors. It feels great each and every time you cross the finish line, the controls managing to make you feel like mistakes are entirely your fault, and not because of shoddy game design.

Menus are extremely confusing, knowing which option you really want takes far too long

This brings us neatly onto the last reason why I would recommend this to anyone looking for a downloadable alternative to this Holiday’s racing game selection. Graphically the game stands up against rivals in the same price bracket, with detailed vehicles and tracks full of subtle details. Gran Turismo it isn’t, but at just $19.99 on the store, you shouldn’t expect that kind of graphical perfection. It’s not as good looking as say Race Driver: GRID, but runs at a high framerate throughout, one of the major problems GRID had on release.

Superstars V8 Racing is a worthy PSN title to pick up for racing fans. That being said, it isn’t as cheap as most store offerings, and so just how essential it is depends on your budget. I enjoyed my time with V8 Racing, and I know plenty of other people will too.

Top Game Moment: Winning your first tournament is as rewarding as you would expect.