With a competent race model and some pretty graphical effects, it's certainly worth checking out while you wait for that other game.
Racing games. What else is there to say? There are cars on a track and they go "vroom". Superstars V8 Racing is one of those games that's satisfied with being good. It doesn't do anything particularly original nor revolutionary, it's simply content with being a good racing game. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, but it's worth keeping your expectations in check before jumping head-first into Superstars V8 Racing.
That said, everything Superstars V8 Racing attempts, it tackles with good execution and a decent layer of polish. This is a good racing game, with a solid racing model and some pretty visuals. There's a decent amount of content, and a robust variety of vehicles. It's good. Superstars V8 Racing never assumes to be anything more, and despite some bleak UI presentation, it succeeds on its values. In a way it's refreshing, too many games look for a unique selling point and end up failing on their core concepts — Superstars V8 Racing doesn't suffer from that.
From what we can tell, Superstars V8 Racing is based on the Italian Superstars Series. It's officially licensed, so you get a bunch of official drivers, cars and tracks. It's hard for us to scrutinise this aspect of the game because the Superstars Series isn't particularly big outside of Italy. Even here in the UK, we'd never heard of the competition. Real petrol-heads will probably have an interest in the event, but casual driving fans like ourselves didn't get much out of the license.
Thankfully, the racing feels good. Cars feel weighty, grounded and precise, with the race model doing a good job factoring in a number of real-life issues such as rain and tire-wear. You can fiddle about with the car suspension, brakes and gears in a tuning menu and it has a tangible impact on the way the cars handle. The cars also sound fantastic, grunting and howling as you come out of hair-pin bends and into long straights. Tracks range from Valencia to Kyalami, but there's very little to differentiate them from each other. This isn't Gran Turismo where there are landmarks and scenery to glare at — it's a racing track game. The tracks are fun to drive, but there's very little eye-candy aside from the other cars and the odd building or tree.
The game does show off its graphics engine when it rains though. Lights streak in the puddled pavement, and reflections distort as cars speed over them. Honestly, it looks fantastic. The graphics engine is also capable of giving a good sensation of speed; you really feel it when you hit the straights.
Aside from the obvious championship and time-trial modes, Superstars V8 Racing packs a pretty neat "Challenge" mode which sees you tackle a variety of different race scenarios. While it's cool duelling different cars and trying to complete a race on completely shot tires, these events are way too easy. We got the top medal on nearly all the challenges on our first attempt. The difficulty issues carry across the entire package. The AI is simply not competitive enough to make the game a challenge, and on the game's highest difficulty it just feels unfair rather than tough.
Superstars V8 Racing launched last year as a retail title here in Europe. In America it's available on the PlayStation Store for $20, which is perfect for a title like this. It's not going to blow you away, but there's fun to be had with the racing model and there's enough content in here to satisfy the game's asking price.