The finest racing games are driven by their adrenaline fueled nature, and now that visual sophistication has matched the genre's fever pitch, players should expect top of the line releases on any system. Real Racing 3 is proof that iOS aficionados can also feel the need for speed, and the new Codemasters release F1 Challenge is attempting to capture similar magic.
Don't expect the usual first person, POV style of most racing games, as F1 Challenge offers us an overhead view of the competitions. This aesthetic was previously employed in the Codemasters series Micro Machines, and fans who love that franchise's top down mechanic may find comfort in F1 Challenge's style. It's a nice throwback feature, and although it may not be as flashy as some of the genre's top titles, driving from another vantage point isn't such a bad thing, especially if you love a bit of variety while burning rubber.
The good news is this app, for just $2.99, has over 90 racing challenges to offer. There are in-app purchases, but unlocking different teams and events is easy as pie, especially since mastering the time trial modes won't exactly keep you up at night. During your head to head matches, using KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems) requires a tap on the left side of your device. For time trials, all that's needed is the steering function, and as long as you can properly navigate a track's respective curves, you should manage to beat most of the required times.
Since it's a licensed Formula 1 title, the app replicates the drivers and vehicles from the 2012 FIA Formula One World Championship, as fans will eventually race such stars as Fernando Alonso (Scuderia Ferrari), Jenson Button (McLaren Merdes), and Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus F1 Team). During my earlier moments with F1 Challenge, I earned enough stars and experience to open up a new time trial and also a planned match with Bruno Senna, who was still a Formula One driver back in 2012. Senna recently joined Aston Martin Racing for the upcoming FIA World Endurance Championship in Fuji, Japan.
Even though F1 Challenge offers a healthy amount of action, the actual racing is far from thrilling. Exhilaration isn't an emotion you'll feel when you complete any of these races, and the app's lack of emotional impact left me a bit cold. Although I'm happy to earn stars after a successful race or time challenge, my desire to move forward rested on upping my Game Center scores. If you're all about leaderboards and achievements, then F1 Challenge delivers. Part of racing's allure is the pure rush of the competition and the idea of pushing yourself to the absolute limit, and unfortunately this app barely registers on the excitement meter.
The steering function is also a bit out of whack, as the controls are a bit too sensitive for my tastes. Navigate your finger slightly towards one direction and your car may just veer off the track. But even if or when your steering skills are up to par, the actual game play mechanic is simply uninspired.
The app offers players a different visual take on the racing genre, and credit goes to Codemasters for imbuing their title with a ton of challenges. But who wants to play an app that gets way too repetitious after the first twenty minutes? There are too many cars to drive, and unfortunately F1 Challenge doesn't go the distance.