Racing games have always had a place in our hearts, with titles such as Gran Turismo and Forza paving the way with incredibly realistic graphics and exciting track-based gameplay. Superstars V8 Racing: Next Challenge aims to step onto the scene with a similar style of play to the aforementioned giants of the racing world, but can it compete with such a high standard? Unfortunately, while it certainly has something to offer to its players, particularly if they are fans of pack racing games such as the old ToCA titles from the days of the PlayStation 1, it fails to live up to the graphical or gameplay standards set by its rivals. This leaves us wondering if this title, brought out just a few months after the original Superstars V8 game, has much of a place in the gaming world.
Next Challenge features gameplay that is caught somewhere between the realms of simulation and arcade action, in an attempt to please both the serious racers and those that want something a bit more unusual. It won’t take long however for the fans of arcade action to become bored; this is a title more likely to hold the attention of those that enjoy a good racing simulation.
A range of vehicles, 19 in total, and 11 tracks will hold your attention for a while, particularly as some must be unlocked before you can take to the grid. The higher the difficultly level, the more enjoyable this gaming experience becomes, with the tracks themselves not offering enough variety to generate too much interest. Taking to the track with 18 opponents as you each battle for first place though is likely to have you on the edge of your seat. Unfortunately however, the AI of opposing players can sometimes let down the experience, in that they often seem to be completely unaware of your presence. Expect to have cars drive into you for no particular reason other than the racing line happens to be where you are at that moment in time.
The single player section of the game offers what you would expect, with Quick Race, Time Attack, Championship, Race Weekend and Superstars License modes on offer. Online you’ll be able to enjoy the first of these three arenas with players from around the globe. Up to 16 people can join one race which certainly provides an exciting experience, assuming you can actually find another 15 people playing online that is.
In terms of graphics, Superstars V8 Racing: Next Challenge looks very similar to its predecessor (unsurprising considering the lack of time between the releases of the two). The graphics certainly aren’t bad, with an impressive level of detail to be found on the vehicles and the surrounding scenery, but they lack the ‘life’ that we’ve come to expect from our racing games. The only movement aside from the track being a helicopter flying slowing in loop above the track.
All in all then, Superstars V8 Racing: Next Challenge is certainly not a bad game. In fact it offers game modes, graphics and a selection of cars and tracks that we would be wowed by, were it not for the game’s competitors. Pack racing game fans will find some enjoyment here, but with the urge to replay the different modes low, and a lack of online players to contend with, you’re unlikely to find this disk lingering within your console for long.