Game Reviews

CSR Racing 2 - On the same track

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| CSR Racing 2
CSR Racing 2 - On the same track
| CSR Racing 2

It's been four years, almost to the day, since NaturalMotion launched its genre-defining drag racing game CSR Racing.

There have been plenty of imitators along the way, of varying quality and finesse, but now CSR Racing 2's here to reintroduce a little class to proceedings.

The first thing you'll notice is that it's had a visual overhaul, as you'd expect after such a long absence. It's now a spectacle truly fit for 2016, and it's sometimes hard to believe that it's running on a mobile device.

All the cars are so shiny, all permanently shimmering with a fresh-out-the-car-wash sheen and nary a speck of dust in sight. Wet wipes are essential kit for any illegal street racer worth their salt, it seems.

I couldn't care less about things that go vroom vroom, but even I got some enjoyment from panning around my cars in the showroom, watching the light bounce off them realistically, and snapping screenshots.

If you're actually interested in cars, I can only imagine that enjoyment being greatly amplified.

Skin deep

But why am I spending so much time describing what the cars look like? Well, in truth, because it's a key part of the game's appeal.

Ahead of its time, the original CSR Racing was unusual for its balance between gameplay and metagame. Simply put, it allowed the actual racing to take a back seat to upgrading and tuning your vehicle.

The game's drag races are brief, linear affairs in which the player is granted control over only starting, changing gears, and timing boosts.

But what's more important is the overall power of your car, which is upgraded between races using in-game currency. Your input can make an underpowered car better, but when the gulf in power becomes too great, your efforts are ultimately futile.

This is a lot more common in free to play gaming now, and CSR Racing 2 continues closely in the tradition established by its predecessor.

Under the hood

To an extent, then, to explain the actual gameplay of CSR Racing 2 - a series of timing and reflex challenges that are over before they've begun - is to fundamentally miss the point.

It's more about that loop of winning races, earning currency, and investing that back into upgrading your vehicle. And, for this to be optimally more-ish, it's essential that the whole process is as quick as possible.

It achieves this admirably. There's a good level of customisation on offer, and it feels good to see your cars go from workmanlike stragglers to souped-up beasts.

The game's story-based 'Crew Battles', where you go up against particularly unconvincing gangsta youths or more-money-than-sense gap yah boy racers, are just as cheesy as ever.

If you don't take them too seriously, though, they're enjoyably silly.

Then there are daily battles offering you a special, one-off loan car - a new one every four hours - and online races against fellow players.

Finish line

A dearth of content is one accusation you certainly cannot level at CSR Racing 2.

What it is, then, is a rather simple proposition. If you enjoyed CSR Racing, or one of its many imitators, then this is the most complete and visually appealing game of its kind to date.

If not, then there's nothing particularly new here.

CSR Racing 2 - On the same track

An exceptionally pretty and compulsive drag racing game, but not a revolution
Matt Suckley
Matt Suckley
Achingly contrarian. Proud owner of an N-Gage and a PSP Go. Matt spends most of his time writing about indie games of which you've never heard. Like that one, yes. Matt is an English student, and largely terrible at games. Go figure.