CSR Classics is the followup to CSR Racing. Take CSR's format of drag racing, throw in a bunch of classic, American muscle cars, and watch the horsepower and torque go through the roof. You will have to manually shift your car from first gear to first place as you put the pedal to the metal (at first). So let's see if this CSR title goes off like a speeding Bullitt or if it just Tokyo Drifts.
At first glance, CSR Classics looks amazing. The cars are shiny, the streets are detailed and each car seems to reflect its state of condition depending on its current engine build. Before each race, there are dynamic camera introductions with a whirl around the starting line. And when you rev up your car, your classic, muscle car shifts back in anticipation. Get the green light and go! You must try and achieve the perfect shift each time so you can finish your race in less than 20 seconds. Once you hit that finish line once or twice you'll realize, there's nothing else to do.
See that gas pedal in the provided pictures? You hold it down until the race starts. For an initial boost, don't fully rev it up but try to get it in the middle so your engine shows off a little green light. Speaking of that little green light, be prepared to stare and focus on it during every race you will ever have, because that's your main indicator for when you are supposed to shift. I have known how to drive stick shift since I was a teenager, but for some reason, I just can't get perfect shifts with these cars unless I'm completely zoned in on that green light. Should I not focus on the green light? Nope, because shifting is just about all that you do.
Sure, you can customize your car, but each race only lasts 15-20 seconds (presumably lower once you start unlocking the really fast cars). You do not need to steer, brake, accelerate... nothing. You just shift upwards. Perhaps there's some hidden reason as to why they even included a downshift button. Perhaps if the streets had some turns or dips it would make sense to include the downshift. If there was such a large focus on shifting (aka the only game mechanic the player has to worry about during the race besides hitting a nitro button), it would have been nice to include a makeshift gearbox on the screen for you to actually shift between, inside of simply hitting an up button. CSR's gameplay can be summarized as "when the light blinks green, hit the arrow, repeat". CSR Classics might have excellent visuals, but that hardly matters when the mechanics force you to maintain tunnel-vision on the bottom of your screen.
The tuneup and upgrade system of CSR Classics is surprisingly detailed. Unfortunately, since all you do is drag race for roughly 15-25 seconds at a time, it's really tough to see how these stat boosts actually factor in to your race when nearly every single one feels the same. Perhaps if there was some sort of clutch, accelerator, gear mechanic added in, CSR would feel like an actual race. Instead, I was simply shifting up, race after race, with nothing else to do besides hit the nitro, if it was available. It's a shame that such levels of detail in terms of upgrades, rust removal, etc. were wasted on such a simplistic race design.
CSR Classics functions as advertised -- you get to drag race muscle cars. When I first learned that this was a title about drag racing, I was immediately reminded of Need for Speed: Underground, which was amazing for its time -- because that's how you do drag racing. Instead, it's hold the accelerator until the race starts, hit nitro, and hit up-shift when the little signal turns green. It's quite a shame that such polished graphics and detailed upgrades were wasted on such a shallow premise. As with most free racing titles, the number of up-shift competitions are limited to a specific number (which refill over time unless you're willing to actually pay money). But if you're willing to pay money, you might as well should spend it on getting a better racer. And no, not the premium rides you can buy in CSR Classics, I mean a better racer.