The first thing that needs to be said about this game is that it’s miles off what you’re expecting. Literally.
A new take has been put on racing for iOS in CSR Racing. It’s more of a test of rhythm than anything else, as you have no control of the direction, only the speed of the car in very brief races that will never exceed the minute mark. Is this mechanic too much of a change to appeal to any racing fan? Let’s take a look.
As soon as you open the app, an agent takes you straight into action, as the last thing anyone needs is a “rookie running the streets.” You immediately feel at the bottom of the food chain with this swift introduction, however it makes you feel like you’ve got a lot to learn and play through.
You launch straight into one of CSR’s unique races right off the bat, and that may seem a little daunting at first, but you soon realise just how simple the gameplay is. All you do is rev your engine at the start and then shift gears. The race was over so fast I was a little disappointed.
After that, you are pitted against a “real opponent.” A cool thing the game shows off at this point is the windows that display the car details in 3D and it looks great. The cars reflect lighting and the environment in a superb manner, but it would be easier considering there are so little details to make look good.
This next race is also won with ease, probably to get you used to the timings of shifting and getting a good start. You’re then taken to buy your first ride from a car dealer. An anonymous donor gives you $25,000 to spend on a new car, a little far-fetched to seem realistic.
After purchasing a car, you have the option (I say option, but there’s no way out of it) to get your car delivered straight away instead of the usual time for five golden tokens. These and the dollars are the two currencies of the game, the tokens being more valuable than the actual money. It’s unclear why they have both currencies, possibly just to add variety.
Lot Of Pretty Cars
You are then told of the game’s premise which adds a little more hope that you’ll get enjoyment out of it: It’s all about collecting cars. You have a garage that will display all your current vehicles. The cars look stunning; there’s an option to view them right there in the garage from any angle, and the graphics here are comparable to that of Asphalt 7 and Real Racing 2.
The cars are pretty customisable with both upgrades and aesthetic changes to make. If you want to upgrade your ride, you’re not short of options; there are seven different parameters to upgrade, ranging from the tires to the gear box. Each upgrade is distinguishable by stages.
You can also make your car look the part, however there isn’t really much time in races to show it off. You can customise the colour and the decal of the car and some decals can earn you more money at the end if races for reasons unknown. Both this and the upgrades are purchasable through the games currencies.
If you want as you progress through the game, you can revisit the car dealer and buy more cars. They’re filtered by brand and then price, with the parameters displayed on the left of the car.
Another auto-refilling currency of the game is gas. You use gas in every race to take part, and when the metre’s empty, you have to wait till it fills up again. This can lead to frustrating waits between races.
The game works on a map of the city which has the main races that determine your rank in the city and other races that gain you some extra cash to upgrade. Each race is graded on its distance and difficulty.
There are also tiers present in the game, with each tier controlled by a gang. You are tasked with taking down the gangs by out-racing them one by one, which can get quite draining. The first match is easily won and afterwards you see that you can earn more money by getting a perfect start, perfect shifts, good shifts and decal.
You can also see an analysis of each race that shows you you and your opponents race time, finishing speed, 0-60mph and 0-100mph times. You can also reflect on past scores to see if you’ve improved on previous performances, and if you really feel like it, you can share how you’ve done via Facebook.
The whole mechanic of rhythm racing isn’t something that massively appeals to me and you can see that it’s not developed enough in the game to offer an experience that other racers offer you. The game is very IAP orientated, too; more often than not you are urged to get more of the game’s currencies. The main focus seems to be on the concept of car collection and reputation building rather than the core gameplay.
There may be satisfaction in mastering the “racing,” however compared to other racers, I don’t think this game should be so depth-orientated. The times I play on CSR racing are for short bursts of gameplay, much like the races themselves. It almost seems the elongated career mode is a cover-up for the short races.
Due to the racing being so short, we don’t get enough time to appreciate the graphics of the game during a race. It’s a shame, because there are some great incidences where this game shines aesthetically, namely the vehicles themselves. If you want, have a look at the afterthoughts before starting a race; everything looks polished and smooth.
Is it for everyone? Yes and no. The game has gameplay that might not appeal to everyone, but is engaging for brief periods of time. There’s a lot of potential graphically too, but I don’t think I’m going to drift from my main racers to venture far in the career mode due to the non-engaging gameplay. It’s good for a while, then the notifications drive you insane. For a free app though, there isn’t anything like it elsewhere and is definitely with a shot.