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Now I love a good racing game from time to time. So when I saw V8 Superstars I first thought that it looks good but I have never heard of that championship. Licensed by the Italian Championship racing league, you get to drive V8 powered touring cars on a series of circuits in Europe, plus a track in South Africa. You will recognise the selection of cars, BMW, Audis and Jaguars just to name a few.

Because this championship is not that well known you get to race on some new circuits that you wouldn’t normally find in other racing games. Varano, Magione and Portimao do not feature in any other current racer. Now these race tracks are not as recognisable as Silverstone, Monaco or the Nurburgring, but if you’re a racing enthusiast then you will enjoy the challenge of the new circuits. Each circuit is full of beautiful scenery and the odd stands filled with a crowd. Now for a next generation game, I would expect better backgrounds, the graphics seem a bit arcade like. Don’t get me wrong it looks pretty and all, but when compared to the visuals of Codemasters GRID, it doesn’t cut it in the looks department.

Now there are a few different types of cars. Because the game is set around one driving championship all the cars are V8’s, as you would have already worked out. Now I have already said that BMW, Audi and Jaguar made the cut and joining them is Scorpio, Mustard, Cluster and Barricade. No they’re not new transformers but names of the car manufacturers that wouldn’t lend their names for reasons unknown. I would guess that these cars are Mercedes, Mustang and Chrysler. Names aside these cars look like their real life counterparts and not to mention these cars are noisy as hell. They look great; screaming around a corner in the rain has never been so much fun.

The handling is a decent stab at simulation, but there is at least one area where things don’t feel quite right. The back end of the cars is extremely unstable and if you get nudged or attempt to change direction while braking, the car will begin to fish tail, swinging from side to side until you’re lobbed into the gravel. It can be infuriating if it leads to a race-ending accident, particularly if it wasn’t your fault. You do get the option to change driving aids on or off. These aids are TCS, ABS, ESC and Automatic gear shift. I would suggest leaving these on until you master the controls of these V8 beasts.

Superstars V8 Racing

The boys race in McDonald’s car park again

Single player is varied with things to do from quick race to championship mode. I think the best feature of the game is the Superstars licenses. Here you get to choose different types of challenges from Countdown; where you have a small amount of time to complete a section of the track. Special Trials, where you will get different objectives to complete from overtaking cars to completing turns cleanly. Duels, is a one on one race between two drivers to prove who is better. Last up is the race scenarios; well it’s in the name really isn’t it. Now championship mode is fun, but the problem with this mode is that each round of the championship is just a series of sessions culminating in the race. And while this is technically representative of race weekends, it all feels very bland. I would have liked a more involving career mode and while the race challenges are good for a short while, they’re unlikely to keep you coming back.

Then you have Online and there isn’t too much to do apart from player match and the leaderboard. You can either choose quick, custom or create match. Not a lot to do here really, though racing online is very fun. And races can be held for up to 1 players in both wet and dry conditions, with AI racers making up the numbers if you’re short on willing competitors. How can you not enjoy ramming your mate of the track or over taking him on the last corner? There is fun to be had online, but I feel they could have made it a bit more appealing.

If you’re an occasional racing game fan then you will enjoy this game too, as the game reminds me of the classic TOCA racing games on the early generation consoles. Crashing into other drivers cars will result in bumpers and wing mirrors flying around, which is very satisfying. If you can complete a race with no damage, I salute you as it is very hard to do. To sum up V8 Superstars, I would say solid racing action with glossy visuals and plenty of unseen tracks. It’s just a shame about the uninvolving career mode and the odd physics quirk. If you are a fan of the classic Codies TOCA games you will be pleased with this, at least I think anyway.