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Superstars V8 Racing


Superstars V8 Racing

ESRB: Everyone - E
Platform: PS3
Category: Racing

Developer: Milestone
Publisher: Black Bean / Codemasters


Single player + 12 players online
10 tracks
Available on PSN
Priced at $20

While everyone’s attention seems to be focused on GT5 and its long overdue release, Black Bean quietly shipped a title to Xbox Live and PSN called Superstars V8 Racing. Priced at $20 and based on Italy’s Superstar Series, I was immediately reminded of Codie’s old TOCA games on the PS2 which I really enjoyed. Read on for more details about how V8 Superstars plays.


Historically, download only titles at a lower price seem to be feature poor. It's nice to see a game like this not cut corners graphically. Superstars won’t compete with the likes of the GT5 and the better looking games out there but it is more than adequate for its price point. The car models are solid and are decently detailed. The framerate is pretty solid. There are some jumps and stutters when changing viewpoints or in replays but the overall game play is a smooth 30fps. The damage modelling, while present, is sub-par visually. Body parts such as bumpers simply detach in places and fall off. There is no deformation to speak of. The environments look good at speed but watching any replay begins to show off a degree of pop-in, bland textures and very flat crowds.


In an aural capacity, Superstars is a middle of the pack type of game. All of the sounds of racing are there. They’re just not represented with the fidelity you find in the top tier racing games. Engine notes are good and throaty. It's what you would expect out of a V8 race car but for some reason the third person viewpoints lose this depth a little bit. The game makes decent use of the surround sound features for both AI cars around you and environmental effects. Where it goes awry is the menu music and sounds. There is an annoying slash during loading screens. The menu music is the generic hard rock riffy type and there are only two or three songs. Things get pretty repetitive pretty quick. Not something that affects game play but it bothered me just the same.


V8 Superstars includes all the drivers and production-based touring cars in Italy’s Superstars Series. While it may not be familiar to North Americans, touring car racing is pretty good stuff. The cars are all recognizable as they are based on actual production cars and there’s plenty of bump and grind racing. All ten tracks featured in the game are real world tracks, a few of which haven’t been included in a game since the TOCA games of last gen. These provide a nice change of pace from the typical courses that seem to be repeated ad nauseum in some of today’s games such as Laguna Seca. All of the tracks are a good enough size and width to allow for great wheel to wheel (or bumper to bumper) racing.

There is a good selection of game modes. You can jump right in to a quick race or play a full season or race weekend. Race weekends feature a full suite of practice and qualifying modes that reminded me of Codemasters recent F1 title with a little less polish. Fans of the series will appreciate this. Me, I just wanted to get into the action and the quick race option worked great for me.

Along with these modes come four default difficulty settings and a good ability to adjust difficulty to suit your needs. This matches any full priced retail game I’ve played in terms of what options you have. Thumbs up for that. You can choose different levels of damage modelling which can or cannot affect performance.

So, how’s the actual driving? The physics model is somewhat simplified versus some of the more hardcore games out there but it is very functional and playable. Don’t expect non-Newtonian tire physics here or anything but the cars handle the way you’d expect them too. Counter-steering seems extremely effective, maybe a little too much so but it keeps the game playable and you’re not always going off the track or spinning out when you go into a corner a little too hot or get on the throttle a bit too hard on exit. The AI is definitely better than some full priced retail games but not to the level of what I think is some of the best AI in F1. Cars will swerve to avoid you and definitely aren’t afraid to dive in for a corner ahead of you.

There are four viewpoints for your driving pleasure. Two behind the car cams, a roof cam that shows a bit of the hood and a bumper cam. Normally in sim racing games I am all about the first person viewpoints. I find them more accurate and I can lap faster. For Superstars I am finding myself playing exclusively in the third person which I generally only play on arcadey racers like NFS. Superstars definitely takes a sim approach to the game but I found it's more fun to play in this view for some reason. Maybe it's because you see more of the bump and grinding I mentioned earlier.

The game isn’t without its faults though. The load times are miserable and there’s a horrible screen “slash” with accompanying horrible sound that happens three times during loads as the game accesses and saves content. The menus are simple text interfaces and lack any real sort of artistic polish to them. Overall there is very little sizzle to the entire presentation in the game.

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