Monster Games is back with the next title in the lineage of the Tony Stewart series. This is a series that started with Tony Stewart Sprint Car Racing, followed by Tony Stewart’s All-American Racing, and now is culminating in SRX: The Game, or Superstar Racing Experience. The Tony Stewart line of games have been solid budget racing titles, so with this SRX: The Game review I was interested to see how the formula has changed here for round three.
SRX: The Game Review
Before that though, let me cover a couple things. For example, what is SRX Racing? Well, that is a great question, and if you asked multiple people, you would get multiple answers.
SRX is a new short-season league that was envisioned by Ray Evernham, former NASCAR crew chief and team owner from 2001 until 2010. It is a league that consists of 12 different drivers from multiple disciplines of racing. They look to put the emphasis back on the drivers and their skillsets, as opposed to the ability to garner sponsorship money and outspend the other guy for the better product on the track.
Now of these 12-former champion-level drivers, one of them happens to be Evernham’s partner in this foray in racing, Tony Stewart.
Along with Ray and Tony, players will most likely be familiar with almost every single driver in the newly founded league that kicks off on June 12 of this year. Its inaugural race will be at Stafford Motor Speedway and finishes on July 17 at Nashville Fairgrounds.
The drivers will consist of Tony Stewart, Bill Elliott, Bobby Labonte, Tony Kanaan, Michael Waltrip, and recent Indianapolis 500 winner and 4X champion, Helio Castroneves, plus many more.
So that details what the SRX league is about and who is participating, but now we move to the official game of the series developed by Monster Games. If you are familiar with the first two titles in the series, then you know full well the number of improvements that were included in the sequel over the predecessor, but now the well-experienced developers from Monster were tasked with creating an official game for an official sport that hasn’t even taken place yet.
A tough challenge for sure, but based on my conversations with the developers, one they were excited about. So now the question is do the improvements continue with SRX: The Game, or has the series stalled a bit, even with the inclusion of a new league?
What I Like
As with any racing game, the driving model is of the utmost importance, and thankfully SRX does a wonderful job of recreating the on-track experience for the player. The game offers four different types of racing styles that include the likes of sprint car, stadium truck, late model, and of course the official SRX racing league itself with the official vehicle.
What I enjoyed so much about what the developers have delivered here is that each series and each vehicle drives differently. Therefore, it requires your approach to be different. There is absolutely a period of adjustment when I left the Sprint car series and took on the challenge of the next series in line, which would be the Stadium Truck series.
These adjustments continued from series to series, and in a way that almost made it feel like I was playing four games in one. As I first started in the Sprint Car series, it took a bit for me to adjust and that is a good thing in this case.
The reason that is a good thing is if you played the previous two games in this series, you might expect the sprint car to feel the same, but that is not the case here. The Monster Games developers have taken this approach very seriously and have tweaked the driving models for the better in SRX: The Game, and as an experienced player it was quite noticeable.
The first time the controller sat in my hand, I noticed the improvements to the driving model almost instantly. in the previous two titles when maneuvering the analog stick in regard to steering the vehicle, the movement variation felt like it was gauged from a one-to-10 type scenario. In SRX, it now feels more like a series that starts with one and ends with 20.
By implementing a greater variety of movements with the analog sticks that now includes a more subtle and nuanced approach, it allowed for greater control and response in my time in the vehicle on the track, and it added a much-needed level of depth to the overall driving model.
These control improvements can be felt throughout the title regardless of what vehicle you’re controlling at that time, but as always with this series, the game does offer the ability for people to go into the settings and change the subtleties of how quickly or slowly their controller and analog sticks react to your movements and decisions.
As with most racing titles that offer a career mode, this is where I spent the majority of my time reviewing this game. Due to the lack of promotion for SRX, I had very little knowledge of what was included in this year’s game, but I was pleasantly surprised to see how much depth there actually was when it came to the career mode.
As I alluded to before, SRX offers four different styles are disciplines of on-track racing, and this plays well into the career mode. The game will start you off in the lowest of the four series, which is the Sprint Car series. If you have played Tony Stewart’s Sprint Car Racing, then you will have a very strong idea of what this series has in store for you.
What is so much fun about career mode in SRX is that it offers some real depth and longevity in terms of gameplay on the track, but it also includes an R&D-type scenario for each series that you race in along the way.
So, once I was fully entrenched in the career mode offering, I found myself dealing with not only trying to be competitive on the track, but also hiring a team of professionals to run my company and help expand the facilities.
Depending on what level of difficulty and length you decide to go within your career mode, SRX could provide literally months of enjoyment for you as each series has multiple tracks and multiple races that you must finish and complete to move on.
The research and development aspect of it only adds more depth as you’re trying to build out your facilities to improve each vehicle. It also offers you the chance to hire a fill-in driver for the series that you may not want to participate in but still have under the umbrella of your company.
In the end, career mode offered way more than I thought I was in store for with SRX, and it offered enough excitement, fun, and originality that has me wanting to go back and play it even though the review is done.
What good is a career mode if the drivers you are racing against are consistently bad and unrealistic? That is one worry or concern you will not have with SRX: The Game, and it’s welcomed.
There is a list of attributes then I continuously stack off or make no doubt when it comes to each racing title that I review. Regardless of the game, I need the AI to be smart, competitive, realistic, and possess the ability to understand that I occupy the track with them as well as other AI drivers.
In both career mode and race now mode in SRX, the AI is consistently good, consistently smart, and although fair, the AI drivers raise each lap like they have a vested interest in the outcome of the weekend. That being said, the AI in SRX is not perfect (and I don’t mean this in a negative sense). I witnessed them making several mistakes on their own accord with each other even if I was not involved or within proximity of them — a good thing.
Now, that’s not to say the AI racers in SRX are always on the mark because they are not. There are some issues that I consistently witnessed with now over 75 races under my belt, but I will get to that in more depth and detail a bit later on in this review.
The bottom line is the AI drivers are almost everything I could hope for in a game like SRX, and they help push the experience, increase the longevity, and enhance the career mode in a very positive way.
Throughout the course of this review, I have mentioned my surprise at the overall depth of this title. This depth includes a career mode, race now, an online suite of racing options, and a live leaderboard. On top of all of what is already included in the game, there are saved slots for DLC content that is most likely to come post-release, although I have no idea at this time if it will be free or paid DLC.
It is not that the content that is offered in this title is groundbreaking or genre-defining because we have seen most of what is offered here in other titles, it is the combination of it all that is impressive.
The online aspect of SRX offers a simple lobby mode, but it allows you to adjust and manipulate it to how you want to race. You also have the ability to run a public or private lobby that can be filled with real-life racers or a combination of real-life drivers and AI drivers to fill out the field.
I have talked about how deep career mode is and what it entails, which is a lot. However, when you add in the online suite and the ability to race in four different series in a race now scenario, all the content starts to add up in a positive way, and you get a much clearer picture of just how much depth is really included in this game for a price of $49.99 USD.
What I Don’t Like
While there is an awful lot that I love about SRX: The Game, especially at the cheaper price, not everything is perfect in this world.
I am a stickler for presentation when it comes to officially licensed racing titles, and in SRX there is little to no presentation aspects that are included. Whether it’s race now or career mode, you get a simple quick screenshot of your driver before the race in the pit area, and amazingly, that is not as inspiring as it may sound (sarcasm alert).
The post-race presentation is worse. Whether you win a big race or finish dead last, you simply get the same splash screen after every single race regardless of the series you’re in at that time. This was bothersome to me simply because the game really does a magnificent job of recreating the grittiness at each in every venue that you race at. It captures that small-town feel that a lot of these tracks reside at, so it’s unfortunate the presentation does not carryover to other aspects of SRX: The Game.
I understand that SRX is a budget title in the sense that the developers are always going to be focused on the core gameplay and feel on the track and not on the periphery of the racing genre. Still, it feels like more could have been done to help push the experience further and mimic the celebratory atmosphere that most sprint and late-model tracks provide in abundance each and every weekend.
I’m not going to spend a lot of time talking about what I didn’t like about the AI drivers in SRX because obviously I already mentioned it as something I did like in regards to how consistently competitive and smart they were earlier in this review.
That said, there is a small quirk that I noticed quite a bit, and it needs to be brought up. During multiple races — if not every race — the AI drivers do understand you are on the track with them, but they also had no issues with dropping down on the track regardless of their position within the race.
For example, if I were trying to pass lapped traffic on the last lap of the race, cars in the back who had no chance of even cracking the top 10 would often show the tendency to drop down and try and block the line that I was currently taking and would be overly aggressive in not allowing me to pursue the win without interaction from them.
It is not a massive issue or what I would define as something that ruins races, but it happened enough and it registered often enough to where it made an impact on me, and I guarantee you will notice it as well.
SRX: The Game is probably not a title that was on many people’s list of racing games they were looking forward to in 2021. In fact, I am not sure many people even knew it was a title that would be developed and delivered during the current year.
That said, SRX delivers one hell of a package, especially when you take into consideration the price at which it is being released. There are many full-price titles that do not offer the level of fun, excitement, or longevity that SRX does, and that needs to be noted and shown the proper respect.
SRX offers an authentic and realistic experience, even for you die-hard dirt racing fans, but it’s an experience that can be modified for people of all skillsets and abilities. The minute you fire this title up, it will conjure up memories of Dirt to Daytona (assuming you’ve played that game before).
Whether you are a racing fan or not, SRX: The Game is something you can enjoy alone or with the family.