CSR Racing from NaturalMotion is a new social drag racing game for iOS devices. The game was featured during Apple’s WWDC keynote address and is presently enjoying a featured “Editor’s Choice” spot on the App Store.
CSR Racing is a simple but visually-impressive racing game. Due to the game’s focus on drag racing, there is no requirement for the player to steer their car, meaning the in-game action can be presented from a variety of dramatic camera angles. The player’s contribution to each race consists of pumping the accelerator on the start line in a hope that they will find the car’s “sweet spot” for a perfect start, and then shifting gear at the appropriate times in order to gain maximum acceleration and pull away from their opponent before the finishing line. In order to help with the timing of both the race start and the subsequent gear changes, the game interface features a series of small lights — three blue, one green — which help to indicate when the player should shift up.
As the player progresses through the game’s various events, they earn soft currency which may be used to purchase upgrade parts for their car or even completely new cars. Upgrades improve the car’s performance in various ways, while new cars have differing “rhythms” to their gear changes. Cars are divided into “tiers,” which give the player an idea of whether or not their present ride will be competitive against the various “boss” characters who appear as the game progresses.
Monetization for the game comes from several sources. First of all, competing in races costs the player gas, which regenerates over time or which may be replenished with hard currency or by inviting friends. Hard currency may also be used to purchase special edition cars, some of which have custom decals or significantly higher performance than the stock cars available for soft currency. Finally, hard currency may also be used to speed up the delivery of new cars or “import” parts, both of which take periods of real time to arrive otherwise. It’s also possible for players to purchase soft currency directly if they are a little short and don’t wish to “grind” easy races for cash.
Social features include Facebook and Game Center connectivity for leaderboards and achievements. The player may also tweet pictures of their current car using iOS 5’s built-in Twitter functionality — these tweets include a link to download the game by default. The game encourages players to make use of the Facebook functionality in particular by offering hard and soft currency rewards for sharing various achievements and accomplishments, though doing so is optional.
CSR Racing is certainly a very well-presented game, with stunning 3D graphics, realistic sound and thematically-appropriate music. The presence of real-life licensed cars in the game will help keep car enthusiasts happy, while the gameplay is simple enough that even children will be able to play it and live out their racing fantasies. Unlike some street racing games which include suggestive imagery of “race queen” women, CSR Racing is a “clean” experience that is suitable for all ages — a wise decision for building up the broadest possible audience.
The gameplay is rather simple and those craving a little more depth from their racing experiences will doubtless tire of CSR Racing after a while. The social, competitive aspect, however, provides an addictive quality to the game that will help to retain users over time — and those who wish to stay truly competitive on the world stage will doubtless be happy to reach for their wallets to get some of the best cars in the game. The only thing really missing to make the experience complete would be a true multiplayer mode, as despite the presence of a leaderboard facility, the game feels like a largely solitary experience at present.