Admittedly I was a little late to the CSR Racing party as I found myself downloading one of the game’s many clones on the app store. It wasn’t until the release of CSR Classics, that I realised I’d been missing out on one of the best looking racing games on mobile.
Now, three years later, Natural Motion are back with a brand new title CSR 2, which comes with the same great gameplay with some much needed additions. Along with the familiar drag racing, players can now dive into their own garage stocked full of the cars they’ve won and purchased. Not only that, there’s a new level of interactivity with the game as players can explore their vehicles by opening doors, bonnets, and boots in order to see what’s inside.
Along with the visual overhaul, which Natural Motion told me retains the same visual fidelity all the way down to the iPhone 5, the game comes with a new campaign, online racing, various daily and weekly challenges, and crews.
Crews are probably the biggest addition to the game as this allows players to come together in a crew and compete for bigger rewards. As players race in the game’s campaign as well as online, reputation is earned and gets added to a grand crew total which, at the end of the crew season, could put you in first place, if you all work together.
So, let’s dive right into what the new game offers and whether it’s worth the 1.24GB you need in order to download the game.
Upon starting CSR 2 you’re thrown right into a race. They really aren’t messing around here as you immediately get a feel for the game. Once the race is over, win or lose, you’re then given a bit of cash to grab your first car. Almost instantly you’ll start to feel more involved as your new car arrives in your garage. The shutters open, your car rolls in, there’s a real sense of achievement here. This feeling gets deeper when you start poking at your car and all of the doors open.
One of the biggest improvements over CSR Racing and CSR Classics is the use of manufacture data to accurately represent the cars’ real-world counterparts. From the way the light hits the paintwork, to the way the interior looks, shows great attention to detail. Already CSR 2 is winning big points for me, and I haven’t even thrown myself into an actual race yet.
Visually, the game is beyond impressive. In terms of gameplay though you can easily hit a rut and things can, excuse the pun, begin to drag.
Having played the game almost daily since it launched last week, I’ve managed to clamber to Tier 4 (with the aid of some in-game currency from Natural Motion), and while I have two garages stocked-up with cars, I can’t seem to progress through the story any more until I’ve upgraded my Tier 4 vehicle.
This is where I feel some may hit a bit of a road block with CSR 2 as the further you progress, the longer it takes for things themselves to progress. At first, upgrading your vehicle happens instantly, however when you hit the stage 4+ upgrades, you’ll be required to wait for them to be “delivered”. Sure, you can unlock these upgrades with premium currency which you can either purchase, or earn in-game, but as your cash and coins dwindle, so might your interest.
However, there is plenty to do aside from the game’s story, as there’s a ton of challenges to complete as well as online racing, so if you’re willing to grind through a few Regulation Races or Ladder Races or even a few Online Races then you can quickly earn the cash that you need. It’s the waiting that becomes a pain in the ass, as with most free-to-play games.
Aside from waiting for upgrades, players have a total of ten Fuel Pips which are used each race. Some races cost one, others cost two or more. These regenerate over time, or you can purchase more Pips with coins or watch some ads. In the end though, it comes down to waiting and putting the game down – something I honestly didn’t want to do.
While we’re on the subject of premium currency, CSR Racing has two. One is the aforementioned coins, the other are keys which players can also purchase or earn through natural gameplay. These keys can be used to unlock crates which give players either parts that can be added to their cars, cash, or actual vehicles themselves. There are bronze, silver, and gold keys which unlock their respective crates. The bronze crates offer more parts than anything, but the other two usually almost always give you a vehicle.
As for the game itself, gameplay is incredibly fun, especially when you climb to more difficult races against opponents similar to yourself. It’s all well and good leaving other cars in the dust, but the real thrill comes from racing against a close competitor as you time the shifts right to gain a few nanoseconds.
Those familiar with the CSR series, you’ll quickly notice that the main gameplay interface has changed, as you’re no longer prompted to change gear with a green light, instead your focus is on the speedometer as now you’re presented with a little green section that you’re aiming to get the needle into before shifting.
This little green window changes depending on the vehicle you’re using or whether you’ve added any upgrades. Initially the section is fairly large allowing you some wiggle room if you hit the shifter a little too late, however, the faster the car, the further in the race you are, this section becomes incredibly thin calling for split-second reactions. The later in the game, the more skill you’re required to have in order to really come out on top.
And don’t get me started with Online racing… Natural Motion have now added a new mechanic in the online races. Once you reach a higher-tier you’re then encouraged to actually launch your car in online races. So not only are you revving to get to the sweet spot, you’ve also got to watch the clock so you can launch at the exact right moment. If you manage that, your car actually gets a temporary boost giving you the upper hand online.
Aside from Online races, CSR 2 has put a pretty heavy focus on the social side of things thanks to a publishing partnership with Zynga. There’s a new global chat option as well as a crew chat which allows you to talk with your crew members. You can also take pictures of your vehicles or record your online races and share them on Facebook and Twitter. At the moment, aside from the combined total achieved by crew members, there’s not a lot else involved with your crew… yet. Although I haven’t been told what exactly is coming, I was told during my time with Natural Motion last week, that more on that front is coming.
The idea however is there, and there’s definitely room for CSR 2 to become more on the social aspect of the game. The ability to challenge other players specifically would be a good option, as well as extending challenges out to your crew.
In terms of performance, I can’t say how the game runs on an iPad, but on an iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S I have noticed that the game does run a little slow in parts, and can often feel slightly sluggish, especially after a few minutes of gameplay. After an extended period of gaming, you’ll also notice that your phone turns into a little block of fire and will run pretty hot. It’s also a bit of a battery drainer too, though these things are to be expected from a game such as this.
What I can say about CSR 2 is that it’s addictive. I’ve spent way too much time playing this game over the past couple of days, and even without the help of Natural Motion’s generosity, I’d probably be in the same place, progress-wise. Would I recommend it? Well if you’re into the simplicity of drag racing games, plus some stunning visuals and vehicle choices, yes! If you’re not, I’d still encourage you to give it a try.