Red Bull Racers
Gameplay - 7
Presentation - 7
Lifespan - 6
Freeness - 8.5
Red Bull Racers tries to build on the popularity and success of old-fashioned Scalextric sets, and it is certainly vibrant and colourful. But the infectious fun of Scalextric just doesn't cross over into Red Bull Racers.
Red Bull Racers harks back to the joy of Scalextric tracks as a kid. Scalextric all about driving cars round crazy, twisting circuits and getting the perfect balance between speed and stability, though watching the cars fly off the tracks was often one of the highlights.
Red Bull Racers tries to tap into this with a very similar gameplay system, and it does it very well, but the infectious fun of Scalextric just doesn’t make the leap into Red Bull Racers.
How does it play?
The whole objective is to race around the circuit, trying to beat all the other racers without falling off the track.
It’s surprisingly difficult to win, especially at first, just because the limits take some time to get used to, and that can be frustrating, but it quickly improves. Even coming second or third earns quite a lot of in-game money, and this can quickly be used to upgrade the car’s top speed and other features, making it easier to win races every time.
A racing game without having to steer, Red Bull Racers, is a simple and easy-to-pickup game.
There’s a huge number of races and game modes, including 3 different series: Formula, Off-Road and Street. Each of these uses different types of car, and they genuinely feel like completely different experiences, with changing levels of traction and slightly different limits of speed and control in each type. It’s subtle, but it’s effective.
Each series has three separate cars, from the basic already-unlocked racers to Formula 1 level vehicles with vastly increased stats. All of these are unlocked once the driver reaches a certain level, giving incentive to carry on playing, and it is a significant jump to move from one car to the next.
Red Bull Racers has a number of different types of race, including elimination races and speed laps, but these are really just variants on a very similar theme.
One of the most troublesome aspects of the game is the absence of any real comprehensive tutorial.
The tracks are one of the most interesting aspects of the game. Particularly fun is rocketing around a loop or a corkscrew, though there are only three different tracks per series, making the game a little bit repetitive after a while.
After from a brief introduction to the controls, the game spends very little time explaining how to unlock new cars, what the different types of race are, or even what the plain objective of the game is. It’s such a simple thing, but Red Bull Racers misses the mark by a long way with this.
Red Bull Racers has got a vibrant, colourful style with cartoony cars and clearly distinguished environments: basically everything expected from a Scalextric-style racer.
The menus are a little confusing at first, and it’s not helped by the lack of tutorial, but after a while it’s easy enough to work out what is going on. The game also holds up technically very well, with no glitches or lag experienced at all.
Quite often the stumbling point for free-to-play games, Red Bull Racers is actually very good in this regard. Though there are only three tracks and cars per series, each race uses slightly different rules to keep things interesting, and the progressive difficult increase makes it very difficult to put the game down.
Red Bull Racers also includes the option to race against Facebook friends, which should help to keep players hooked for a little bit longer than otherwise.
Free-to-play or lots to pay?
The Red Bull Racers game itself is entirely free to download from the iOS and Android stores, though there are some small monetized aspects of the actual game.
For a small number of gems (in-game premium currency), players can buy new cars earlier than possible by simply levelling up or can buy one-off special power to use in races.
The real joy of Red Bull Racers, though, is that everything can be unlocked without ever spending a penny.
It can take a while to unlock some of the cars, but it is achievable. Choosing to pay for cars earlier can be extremely expensive as well: unlocking the best Formula 1 car straight away would cost around £20! Really quite extortionate pricing, but being able to unlock it without paying means this isn’t too big of a blow.
The only tempting premium aspect is the option to recharge the controller, which is Red Bull Racers way of saying ‘lives’. Each time a race is undertaken it uses one bar of energy, with nine available, and then there’s a short wait until there’s the option to race again, though a small amount of gems can accelerate this process. It’s tempting, though again, it’s entirely possible to just wait and never spend a penny.
Red Bull Racers is a fun little racing game to pick up and play. There’s some slight issues getting used to the menus and more complex aspects to begin with, but it’s a surprisingly addictive game after a few races. The slight limitations in number of cars and tracks can make it feel a bit repetitive before long though.
Without the threat of a car actually flying through the air, Scalextric-style racing just isn’t quite the same.
The biggest issue is that Red Bull Racers is undoubtedly going to get compared to Scalextric sets. Much of the gameplay and style is very close to a classic Scalextric experience, and that’s great, but the game just doesn’t manage to capture the thrill and excitement of real-life Scalextric races.
It’s fun, but not particularly gripping, and there’s a good chance that most players won’t make it past a few races.