While playing my way through CSR Racing, I learned that I am neither fast nor furious.
I also learned quickly that CSR Racing is less a traditional racing game than it is a rhythm game. Instead of focusing on steering, or even driving, all CSR Racing requires of you is that you tap on the screen to shift at the correct, cued moments as the car hurtles down a straight street track.
Still, these simple controls work in the game's favour, making the racing genre accessible to anybody. Fans of games like Asphalt, however, may be disappointed by the misleading lack of driving in this car-based game.
While light in driving mechanics, CSR Racing delivers strongly in the area of street car racing culture. With seven areas of your car to upgrade (gearbox, engines, tires, etc.), you won't go wanting customisation options.
The racing itself takes place against a single AI opponent, and it's quite enjoyable at first, with frequent close races in which your heart beats faster as you nose past your opponent on the final stretch.
Unfortunately, all of the races are fairly monotonous, requiring little more than four taps over the span of 15 or so seconds before they come to an end. There's no real skill involved in the racing itself, and so there's no room to improve and gain a sense of achievement.
Spend to win
You customise your cars by spending either Cash or Gold - the former is earned from winning races while the latter is earned (slowly) by levelling up or spending real currency through in-app purchases.
While all of the upgrade parts can be purchased for Cash, a few more esoteric upgrades require Gold, which is earned at the glacial in-game pace of one piece per level. Additionally, the higher-tier parts and are almost all imports and take real-world time to arrive. By spending Gold, you can make their delivery instant.
This upgrade system is innocuous enough, but the petrol system in the game is an unpardonable grasp for cash. Each full tank of petrol holds ten units, and each race uses up one or more units depending on its length and difficulty. When the tank depletes, you have to spend Gold to refill it or wait (stop playing) for the petrol to replenish over time.
Alternatively, you can fill up your petrol tanks by inviting friends via Facebook, which does little to improve the perception of the petrol system as anything other than a moneymaker for NaturalMotion.
Despite CSR Racing's deeply integrated and ultimately unavoidable IAPs, it's a fun and enjoyable game that offers the occasional thrill without providing much of a challenge. The graphics and presentation are both top notch, but the game never really finds the right gear.