When it debuted back in 2012, CSR Racing's bite-sized bouts of drag racing were just the right amount of driving excitement for mobile gamers. CSR Racing 2 keeps the action brief, but gives players a little more control over a lot prettier cars. While games like Real Racing 3 and the Asphalt series aimed to bring the full racing experience to mobile phones and tablets, NaturalMotion's CSR Racing has focused on delivering tiny moments of greatness. Every race being a straight shot, steering is never a concern. It's about coming off the starting line just right and shifting at the perfect moment. If all goes well, 10 to 15 seconds later the player's got a bit more cash and a bit more rep.
CSR Racing 2, now available on iOS and Android, delivers exactly that same experience, only slightly better. The RPM meter has been tweaked, giving players a green line to aim for the perfect start and shift. Cars can be tuned further, tweaking tyre pressure, nitrous balance and gear ratios in order to get the most out of the 15 seconds or so your cars will be on the track during any given race.
The environments are much more detailed, not that you'll be looking away from your car long enough to notice. Weather effects have been added, with heightened chance of wheelspin on rain-slicked streets.
The singular racing focus has allowed CSR Racing to improve in other areas as well. Just look at this car.
Each of the 50 plus vehicles in the game features detailed interiors, opening and closing doors and hoods. New vehicles can be purchased with the same paint and interior colours and accessory options offered by their real-world manufacturers. Once you get it into your garage however, feel free to give the $1.5 million Aventador LP 700-4 a camo pattern paint job. It will improve your freshness rating, which in turn increases the reputation gained by running events.
The overall structure of the original game is unchanged, for the most part. The player progresses through a throwaway storyline that aligns with the five progressively more powerful and expensive car classes in the game. Winner ladder races, story races or any of the multitudinous special events that pop up on the map earns the player respect and cash, the latter being used to upgrade cars to be able to compete at higher-tier events.
There is a new way to progress in CSR Racing 2, and that's together in a racing Crew. Competing in events as a member of a Crew earns special rewards and bonuses that the lone driver could never hope to achieve, like greater reputation gains or extra winnings per race.
Also there are online multiplayer drag races in real-time, which I'd rather not talk about. I am the worst, and seeing the option to challenge others on the game map just makes me sad.
But most of CSR Racing 2 makes me happy. It's still one of the most microtransaction-happy games out there, with three different currencies (cash, gold and keys) to purchase with real money and plenty of tempting limited-time packs for sale, but what you get without spending a cent is quite good.
My pink and purple Golf GTI, the darling of my garage.