Preview of New Star GP: Experience the Thrill of a V12-Powered F1 Racer Blurring the Line Between Arcade and Simulation Gaming

“We attempted to create something that we were going to relish,” New Star Games Design Director John Dennis comments regarding New Star GP – the F1-style racing game from the studio behind the likes of Retro Bowl and New Star Manager that’s finally set to come out of Early Access via a full release on March 7.

He proceeds to explain that the studio’s original vision for its racer leaned more towards the arcade end of the arcade-sim spectrum that all modern racing games seem to fall somewhere on.

Although New Star GP was always intended to include more sim-style elements, such as tire degradation, many additional features that have a similar impact on the gameplay to that one have been integrated into the game based on input from players who have been engaging with the early access and beta versions since August last year. For instance, a whole new difficulty setting, Pro Mode, has been introduced alongside the initial difficulty setting to provide additional realism and challenge for those interested.

The core concept remains unchanged, however. In the game’s career mode, you will progress through five different decades of F1, from the 1980s to the 2020s, competing against grids of distinct parody F1 drivers in distinct parody F1 cars inspired by racing reality but also highly customizable. You will race on tracks like Northampton, a unique twist on Silverstone, while battling against drivers like Michael Schildhauer and Ayrton Serafino (easy to guess their inspirations).

Even though each GP consists of only about six laps, with individual laps lasting about a minute, strategic planning is essential – a factor that the developers believe adds a lot of variety to the gameplay. You’ll need to strategize and execute pit stops in order to secure victory once the checkered flag is waved. Consider factors like rain showers or track conditions varying depending on your location, and it’s clear that simply flooring the accelerator and careening off walls and opponents until you cross the finish line won’t cut it.

Observing Dennis and New Star community manager Mark Baldwin racing around circuits inspired by Spa and Monaco during this hands-off preview, employing boost at strategic moments and narrowly avoiding collisions with AI opponents, New Star GP seems to retain the carefree, anarchic fun that many of us seek in arcade racers. There are no stewards or penalties inhibiting you from aggressive driving or shortcuts, but damaging your car’s parts will make driving more challenging. Therefore, going all out Wreckfest or Burnout on someone isn’t advisable.

Some cars racing in New Star GP.
Nyowwwwwwwwwwwwmmmmmmmmm. | Image credit: VG247/New Star Games

Throughout the ten race weekends in a season of the game’s single player career mode, you’ll be competing against the same drivers at each GP, and their relationships with you will vary based on how you’ve interacted with them. Different personalities have been assigned to each driver, impacting their aggression levels and racing speed if provoked.

I’m curious to see how I’ll feel about the smaller warm-up events preceding each GP once the full game is in my hands. Events like time trials, eliminators, and one-on-one races are familiar from other racing games, and while they may serve as optional activities to earn extra cash for upgrades, I hope they don’t become obligatory if you wish to progress at a reasonable pace.

If racing solo against the F1 stars in the game’s championship mode isn’t your preference, New Star GP also offers a multiplayer mode called Championship, allowing up to three players to compete in split-screen mode. Originally limited to 17 pre-made racing championships, this aspect of the game has been enhanced based on early access feedback before the full release.

New Star has introduced the option to create custom championships, enabling players to customize various aspects such as the era of cars, track layouts, and even race length (up to 99 laps). The latter may pose challenges since fuel and tire wear don’t scale accordingly, necessitating pit stops every few laps. It remains to be seen how long such a race would last, but someone is bound to try and find out.

Some pit crew perks in New Star GP
Box, box, box. | Image credit: VG247/New Star Games

I hope to witness someone going all out and selecting tracks with a high chance of rain and unpredictable weather for those lengthy races, truly embracing the chaos.

After the preview, I’m eager to experience the full release version of New Star GP now that it has passed through early access. It ventures into a genre that can be as unforgiving and challenging as any, considering the demand for ultra-realism seen in titles like iRacing and Assetto Corsa.

Nevertheless, if the game has applied the lessons learned from early access effectively, it stands a chance to become a niche success, even though breaking into the mainstream dominated by titles like Forza and Gran Turismo may be a stretch unless its fun elements manage to attract a wider audience similar to games like Wreckfest and BeamNG.Drive. Dennis describes it as “everything you’d expect to see in a [modern] motorsport game, but sort of dressed in arcadey clothes”.

Though, achieving mainstream success comparable to the fire-breathing 80s V12 monster might prove challenging.

New Star GP will launch on March 7 for Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, and PC via Steam.

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