The next challenge is much better than the first…
I missed out on the first Superstars V8 game, but based on the Metacritic scores…it needed some work before it could take on the likes of PGR, Forza and GT. The sequel known as Next Challenge seems to do a decent job of providing a classic style of racing, but it does perhaps feel a bit dated when compared to the big steps made by Forza 3. The team obviously didn’t have as big a budget as the folks at Turn 10, but that didn’t stop them from making a good looking and enjoyable racer.
The only thing that bugs me about the game is a lack of a rewind feature. DiRT 2 and Forza 3 both have it and they are the big racing names for last year, so you would think that other developers would take notice of this feature that makes racing games easier for the consumer. I hate having to restart a race every time I mess up on a corner, but on the flipside it does add more of a challenge.
After a while, the game does become a tad samey and repetitive with courses that although good, fail to come to the same standard that we’ve come to expect from the bigger names on the track. There is a nice level of realism when it comes to your cars, but it’s a shame you can’t customise them other than being able to fine-tune them. It feels a bit shallow on the whole, but only if you really like that side of racing games.
A decent career mode and being able to play against 16 players over Live are the two great aspects of the game, which is more than enough…but the gameplay doesn’t shake things up enough, it’s perhaps a bit too conventional and doesn’t take risks like it could have. I guess what I’m getting at is that it’s just like any old racer, which is fine…but it doesn’t make it stand out from the crowd as a result.
Visually, Next Challenge is quite strong with realistic models…but tracks are a mixed bag, especially with the backgrounds. Once I was driving round a corner to see buildings just pop into the background like something out of the olden days of gaming. Luckily I only saw this a few times, but it was still quite shocking. Damage mechanics aren’t too bad, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. The same applies to the music and sound effects…good, just not memorable.
The problem with Superstars V8: Next Challenge is that it feels all too familiar and dated. The genre has upgraded over the past few years, but this game feels like a big step back. Don’t get me wrong…it’s enjoyable and it’s well designed, but it lacks that killer punch of innovation to make it stand on its own two feet (or wheels) and take the fight to the big names of racing games. If however, you want a nice and simple racer…then this is worth a look.