Race of Champions, or ROC for short, is actually based off of the Race of Champions racing circuit. Contrary to many racing series, ROC is closer to the style of professional drag racing with the idea that there are 2 lanes for two drivers.
However, the similarities to drag racing terminates there. These two lanes are interconnected, but you’ll never ever come into contact with your actual opponent. This is already a short coming as with RR2, you got to trade paint with the guy next to you, but this really isn’t the point of ROC. ROC, instead, tests a driver’s technique and pure skill against another’s.
Each race is run for two laps, you then swap lanes and race again. In order to advance, you must win both races. These races are run on really tight, indoor, closed tracks. Although this didn’t disappoint me, I could see it being a let down for many people as this it next to impossible to hit really high speeds. I rarely saw myself going over 100. Instead, these tracks are flat and extremely technical. This is my cup of tea when it comes to racing; I love technical racing.
There are three modes of play that allows players to really dig deep into their racing experience: time trial, championship, and duel. Each of these puts a twist on the ROC style of racing:
- Time trial pits racers against the online leader boards. They do two laps, switch lanes, and run it again for the best time. If Internet isn’t available, they race against their best time.
- Championship is where the main game is played. Here you’ll race through a series of races in different cars on certain tracks. Advancement here results in unlocking new tracks and championships.
- Duel is an online head to head mode where you race another person online. You simply choose the track and car and they’ll start your engine for you.
ROC has a small number of cars, which are reflective of the actual cars in the ROC. There is a Volkswagen, dune buggy-type car, and an open c*ck-pit car for you to drive. Color choices are limited to two colors; you don’t get to choose your color.
The controls in ROC are simple, and customizable. However, options are not as open as games like Need for Speed, Real Racing, and GT Racing: Motor Academy. You can toggle auto-acceleration, on-screen steering wheels, and adjust sensitivity. Controlling is pretty open, but there just isn’t enough variation to make it as customizable as I’d like it.
One thing that really annoyed me with the controls was that there aren’t any options to adjust the controls in-game. You’d have to exit to the main menu to do a slight tweak of the sensitivity. This can make adjusting to controls a pain to do.
The gameplay was fun and technical, getting closer to my type of racing game. The entire arcade feel that RR2 created is eliminated entirely, which I don’t entirely hate. Overall, the gameplay is really good; it would have been great if it didn’t take me an hour to get a control scheme that worked for me.
The graphics in ROC can use a little improvement here and there, but are still a step above much of competition. However, this would be assuming their competition was all games. In the realm of racing games, the graphics are only good.
The 3D models are really nice; the shape and forms of each car is sufficient for ample definition and detail. Reflections are not visible at all though, giving the cars a matte look rather than a glossy one they would actually have. Not all the lines are crisp and the game can use some less jaggedness to it. The graphics still aren’t an eyesore though and you can certainly make out what everything is. Attention to details is there as well, so they aren’t entirely bad.
This game also does feature a damage model… For one car. All the other cars have absolutely no damage models at all, which is a disappointment. The Volkswagen was the lucky one with it. However their damage model is closer to one like Gran Turismo 5′s. Really limited. There was no way to have parts actually detach from the vehicle.
ROC does have a slew of camera angles to race from, but not all of them are included. I do wish they had a c*ckpit view; that would really put the game more on par with NFS and Real Racing 2. Nonetheless, there are still an ample amount of camera views to play from.
The game menus are really straight forward and basic, which helps out plenty for navigation. The buttons are large and take absolutely no time to adjust to, so there was really no learning curve. Everything is just spelled out to the user in the most basic way.
The graphics are actually really good overall, don’t get me wrong. However, it just doesn’t have that refinement RR2 has. I would have loved to have just a little more when it came to graphics.
ROC offers races a mass array of sound effects, but falls short when it comes to background music. When you first start up the game, you are presented with a really fast paced and exciting rock-styled song. That’s all you get. There are absolutely no tunes to listen to while your racing in circles with, what seems to be, yourself – bummer.
The sound effects, contrary to the in-game music, is bountiful. There are a wide array of noises: engines reving, tires screeching, cars crashing, and even dirt flying. However, they were all the same exact sound and it gave the game an arcade feel to it; this would work in RR2 since the gameplay is arcade-like, however, for a professional racing sim, it just doesn’t cut it.
Replay is actually one of the games’ really strong suites. After a long, grueling championship, you don’t have to retire. Instead, you take your racing skills straight against strangers all around the world.
There are two modes of play, which don’t differ that greatly since racers don’t interact in the first place. In time trial, you’ll be attempting to beat other racers’ top times that they have run. In Duel Mode, you’ll go head to head with another randomly selected player and race them around the track.
In addition to that, there are also a number of achievements built into ROC. If you’re the type that likes to beat a game 100%, these will keep you somewhat busy.
If you feel the need to, you can always return to each championship and best the time you already achieved. I would still like to see just a quick race mode where it’ll throw you into a random or player selected race with another AI opponent.
Despite some minor crevices in the game, I would still highly recommend ROC to any racing enthusiast. There are some problems, but none of them really make the game unplayable. Everything is cleanly done, but ROC definitely doesn’t go the extra mile like RR2 does. The gameplay and graphics, along with the replay really make this 5 dollar game a huge value.
ROC brings a new racing game to the iTunes App Store, but it isn’t perfect. However, these imperfections really don’t ruin the games entire experience. It takes a racer and exposes their true skill and technique as it pins a racer against each other, but never directly interact. If you’re a racing enthusiast and want to test your skills on some of the tightest technical courses, ROC will definitely fill this necessity of yours.