It’s amazing how different games within the same genre can be, and how each type has its own sub-genres within it. Racing games, for example, come in varying forms, including arcade racers like Need for Speed or Forza Horizon, simulation affairs like Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport, and smaller, more retro-inspired titles. It’s the latter category we’ll be focusing on in this review, as EnjoyUp Games has just released another downloadable indie racer called Grand Prix Rock ‘N Racing.
A sequel of sorts, Grand Prix Rock ‘N Racing continues on from Rock ‘N Racing Off Road DX with one major difference. That is, a focus on Formula One style cars, which are known to be both fast and dangerous. Of course, with that comes traditional, circuit-based racing, wherein drivers vie for pole positions and checkered flags.
This is a top-down take on the sport, and is also one where you’re put at a disadvantage from the get-go. As yourself, you jump right into a season of championship racing, driving a car that simply doesn’t have get-up that compares to your competitors’ rides. In fact, to be blunt, the car that you start off with flat out sucks. It’s slow, takes a surprisingly long time to accelerate and turns corners like it’s a tank or something made of concrete.
I tried my hand at the first couple of races multiple times, and became frustrated at how much of a mess they were. My car would take a long time to get going at the start of the races – so much so that I’d sometimes get bumped forward by the vehicle behind me. Turning was also always a chore, and it was made worse by the fact that the game’s poor AI would often crash and then stay in place. By that, I mean they’d crash, get turned around and then sit in the middle of the roadway, just waiting to get crashed into. Sometimes I’d get lucky and ghost through them (for some reason), but I’d usually have a tough time avoiding them and end up crashing myself. Or fail to see them when they’d blend into the track.
Another not so fun aspect of this game’s design is that, after crashing, said opponents also have the tendency to drive in the wrong direction. At least, when they decide to move out of the way and get going again. That obviously leads to even more crashes, which can really screw you over when you have something decent going. And, for a game that promises realistic racing physics, they certainly aren’t very apparent.
I’m all for supporting small games and enjoying what downloadable titles such as this have to offer, but Grand Prix Rock ‘N Racing just isn’t a very fun or good game. It’s dated at release, and has more problems than most will be able to stomach. Sure, it gets slightly better and a bit easier to control once you upgrade a bunch, but getting to that point is such a slog that it’s almost not even worth bothering.
If you do stick with it, though, then you’ll find yourself vying for the championship with points accumulated on a per race basis, while earning an upgrade token or two with each finish. There are around ten different events and several different tracks in each championship season, and it’s important to do well in them all. At the start, though, a finish resting between 9th and 12th place (out of 20) is going to be common.
There’s a bit more to Grand Prix Rock ‘N Racing than just its career mode, however, as the game also offers a basic time trial mode, along with four-player splitscreen multiplayer. Granted, due to its lack of quality, I can’t see this game becoming a party favourite, or anything that friends will really want to gather to play.
Presentation-wise, things are also pretty lacklustre in EnjoyUp’s latest effort. While serviceable, its top-down visuals tend to be a bit muddy, which is mostly evident in its half-decent tracks’ pavement. It isn’t hard to lose track of other racers who have crashed, and the monotonous gameplay doesn’t help. The advertised rock ‘n roll music is also rather lacklustre, and you’ll likely want to turn the sound off after just a couple of races. I say this not just because the music is underwhelming, but because there’s also a terribly annoying announcer who constantly says the same stupid things. His favourite line — which is repeated ad nauseam during races — happens to be, “This race is heating up!” and it’s something that you can expect to get sick of almost immediately.
At the end of the day, Grand Prix Rock ‘N Racing just isn’t a very good game, even at a regular asking price of $7.99 US.
This review is based on an Xbox One game, which we were provided with.
Grand Prix Rock 'N Racing simply isn't as fun, or as polished, as it strives to be. There was cetainly potential here, but it's not realized due to mechanical issues that make playing the game a slog.