Taking the side streets.
Superstars V8 Racing is a test of the strength of the downloadable market. It has all the minimal features you would expect from a port of a full retail racing arcade simulator from Europe, but priced only at $19.99. And it will only be available in downloadable form on the PlayStation Network without little, if any, coverage in stores. This is the partial experiment by O-Games that might go unnoticed by the general market (well, except by you because you just read it).
[image1]Just to be clear, Superstars V8 Racing is not your typical budget-priced downloadable title that's trying to push as many features as it can to compete. Securing the license for Superstars, which is an official racing championship based in Italy (Campionato Italiano Superstars), it showcases real drivers with their real-life cars; with the BMW M5, Jaguar S-Type R, Porsche Panamera S, Maserati Quattroporte, and Audi RS5, just to name a handful of the accepted cars in the championship.
Though each driver comes with their preset vehicle of choice, you can tune the car's settings from the traction of the tires to the pressure of the suspension. Car damage is also included in the physics, but since the car manufacturers get all antsy about their manufactured babies getting smashed into metal fillets, it's limited to bumpers and fenders falling off.
Accompanying that is a set of true-to-life tracks, with the Varano, Portimao, and Magione racetracks being modeled for the first time, and all with weather effects to boot. To get accustomed to the track, an optional arrow display can be switched on as a driving aid, in addition to the familiar driving line. A few seconds before an upcoming turn, an arrow appears at the top of the screen, not only showing the general curvature of the turn, but also turning red if your oncoming speed is too high.
[image2]Otherwise, Superstars V8 Racing doesn't go too far off-track with its modes: a championship progression, an up to 12-player online multiplayer quick race, and several variations that range from checkpoint time trials to head-to-head duals. There are also challenges that will test you with a handicap, like having your tires worn down by 50% at the very start of the race. And later, I hear that your car will be weighed down by a small boy and his pet chimpanzee.
Considering that this isn't the first foray for developer Milestone, who also developed GT Evolution in 2006, Superstars V8 Racing looks to be a safe and secure ride. Given the game's niche market, I hope that O-Games doesn't consider this a failed experiment in the downloadable market if it doesn't bring in the numbers they're looking for. But if you're a racing aficionado waiting for Gran Turismo 5 (what kind of racing fan isn't?), check out this title when it speeds onto Playstation Network October 2010.