Scott Watson reviews Rock ‘N Racing Grand Prix…
This will be a race to remember! Racers start your engines! From there sadly, Rock ‘N Racing Grand Prix is nothing but a hard, frustrating and infuriating lesson in how not to make a racing game.
OK, look, this is an indie title. A budget indie title at that. It’s less than a tenner on the Playstation Store. But even that cheap price isn’t enough for me to tell you to give this a blast.
The game menus are bare bones which you can forgive to a degree, with three gameplay options; Championship, Time Trial and Multiplayer. Essentially two single player elements and a couch competitive mode for up to four players split screen (sadly something we never managed to try out).
Championship is your career mode, with a 10 track race around some of the world’s most recognisable F1 circuits. 20 racers visiting 10 countries with points racked up dependent on your position. So far so straight forward racer. It all starts to unravel from the starting grid where you are introduced to a tilt-shift styled perspective of racing. Fantastic you think, this is just going to be like Championship Super Sprint. There’ll be the roar of the engines as you all get ready to start. We’ll power off from the green light and go tearing around the course, aiming to hit that pole position as fast as we can… and that green light comes, you squeeze the trigger to accelerate, and you wait for something to happen, and you watch as all the AI opponents seem to apparently be able to breeze off from their starting positions without any troubles at all. Don’t know about the rest of them, but it definitely seems like our car doesn’t seem to run on duracell.
It is so slow, laboriously slow going from a standing start. It shouldn’t be like this. Not in what I assumed was going to be a rip roaring arcade spin. Rock ‘N Racing Grand Prix? You’re having a laugh mate. More like the Skoda 500.
Once you’re up and running, on the initial straight of each track, you’re thinking to yourself; right, got a bit of momentum, feel the speed building up, tweaking my line for the upcoming corner, and turn into it, no, turn a bit more, bit more… why aren’t I turning, why is every other car taking this with consummate ease yet I have the turning circle of an ocean going cargo tanker and then you hit the barrier and stop. Every turn, every bend, it’s the same. It doesn’t matter how much you prepare to slow down and take them, your turning circle never seems enough, your acceleration and speed never seem enough. Yet all around you the AI opponents go whizzing past at speeds you can only dream of. If this is a game trying to be hardcore then I feel it’s going about it the wrong way.
When you finish the race, invariably in the bottom three (as I did in all of the 10 races in the first season), you’re provided tokens to tweak your car’s performance across the likes of speed, acceleration, brakes, etc. These sadly just never seem enough. The game starts to suck the life out of you as you see another finish in the bottom three, as you see another race where everyone else seems to be able to take the courses and corners with ease.
If there’s a saving grace in all of this, it’s actually thanks to the aggressive AI opponents and rather over the top physics engine. Crashes can at times be very funny because of this, and are about the only bright light in a game that you feel is nothing but a battle (but not in a good way). Also, the game engine in terms of the look and feel of the tracks and vehicles is very clean. Were the actual mechanics of the game play as good as the settings then you really could have been looking at a spiritual successor to the old Super Sprint classic.
As it is, there’s nothing but frustration, anger and broken controllers ahead for those willing to play this game.
Rock ‘N Racing Grand Prix is out now on PS4.