Ever wanted to stick Sebastian Vettel and friends in go-karts…and watch the mayhem unfold? Finally, that day is upon you, whether you wanted it or not.

I’m sure the story goes something like this:

It’s a slow Friday afternoon at Codemasters, the UK studio known for its hardcore TOCA, F1, Race Driver, and Dirt racing sim franchises. One early margarita too many, a programmer confesses to losing a bet where he/she was forced to insert their prized licensed drivers and cars into a bastardized version of Mario Kart. What was initially a failed wager turns into an office joke, where said gaming experience gets developed over several months – and margaritas – later into what begins to resemble an oddly polished game. Thus, "F1 Race Stars" is born.

The amazing thing about F1 Race Stars is that it’s sneaky good. Ridiculously entertaining. License authentic. Semi-addictive. Wonderfully accessible. Clever as all heck. Enormously attentive to detail. Viva la margarita!


It’s hard not to compare F1 Race Stars to Mario Kart based on genre alone…but similarities between the two are limited at best. Both, however, share a common bond of being solid and easy to pick up multiplayer and family friendly experiences, ones with refreshingly intuitive control schemes, creative tracks and environments, and an endlessly nagging desire to give a track one more go-round.

Unlike Mario Kart, however, F1 Race Stars’ individual drivers and cars differ very little between them. While the cars resemble real life counterparts in sponsors, teams, and helmets – in exception to preferred powerups – there’s not much else there. It’s not to say I don’t love the hysterically authentic accents and sayings amongst them; F1 Race Stars is so non-politically correct, it’s both hilarious and refreshing. Still – and unless you’re a huge Formula 1 fan – there’s not much character variety to speak of. Thus, if this is a deal-breaker, perhaps the Sonic racing series is a better bet.

Tracks certainly compensate for racer variety shortages. To explain, level design is awesome, with terrific shortcut options, great environments native to the country of origin, and a surprisingly catchy soundtrack in each. As a point of clarity, tracks and obstacles in F1 Race Stars are of the fantasy norm, chock full of cultural nuances native to a host country. There’s bouncing carnivale floats in Brazil, tractors in the US, rolling aqueducts of Italy, and a wacky roller coaster in Abu Dhabi. It’s mayhem out there, in the best of ways.

It’s thankfully easy to appreciate the level design in F1 Race Stars, as its controls are simple (4 buttons!) and responsive. Split screen multiplayer also works quite well, with no lag or glitching to punish competitive, local gaming. I didn’t try the full fledged 4-player multiplayer, but am hopeful it would hold up as well as its’ 2-player cousin. Online worked…but not perfectly. I lost my connection just before race finish, perhaps a by-product of being a new title with untested servers.


Previously mentioned powerups are cute – distraction balloons, radius shock, lift bubbles, etc. – but sometimes confusing to discern which one is in hand. Related, F1 Race Stars employs a very clever damage and pit stop dynamic, where racing through a designated pit lane area can quickly repair sparks and dings caused by enemy no-goodnicks. Pit lane music is also uncomfortably addictive. (Get out my head, damn you.)

The usual racing 100c, 200c and 300c modes are here, to include career, single player, time trial, and friends. One can also sync up a career online through the Codemasters Web Site. Surprising, however, was that ghosted racers are anything but. There’s something strange yet appropriate of getting thwarted by bumping into the crappy version of you…over and over again…from a missed turn.

In closing and with the holidays upon us, it’s hard not to suggest F1 Race Stars as a terrific family friendly racer…considered a must-buy for a Formula 1 fan. The game is well priced for this purpose, with some mildly expensive add-ons (for what they are) available on the PSN Store to compensate.


F1 Race Stars is an unusual offering from racing legend Codemasters, but one thankfully here. This family friendly, F1 authentic go-kart racer is refreshingly clever and fun to play. Still, those looking for more variation in drivers and car types may be better served by the Sonic racing series.

  • Family friendly content and controls.
  • Clever track design and environments.
  • Funny and impressive attention to detail
  • Not much variety across cars.
  • Sometimes confusing power ups.
  • F1 license a bit niche.
Quote: "This family friendly, F1 authentic go-kart racer is refreshingly clever and fun to play. Still, those looking for more variation in drivers and car types may be better served by the Sonic racing series."
Reviewed by Paul Stuart | 12.11.12 | Platform Reviewed: Playstation3

Similar Games: Diddy Kong Racing (4.0) | F1 2011 (8.2)


F1 Race Stars




US Release
November '12


X360, PS3

Players 1-4
Online MP 2-12
5.1 Surround
HD 720-1080p
D/L Content