Up: Great graphics, exciting gameplay

Down: Convoluted currency system, confusing menus

Neutral: A fun game for casual and hardcore gamers alike

CSR Racing 2 is by far the most popular drag racing game on the Android and Apple app stores and being the casual gamer I am, I had to check it out. Boasting taglines like #1 Drag Racing Series, Real-Time Racing, and Next-Gen Customization, the first thing you’ll actually wonder is, “What the heck does CSR stand for?” After some Googling, it turns out that CSR stands for Custom Street Racing. Now that you’re informed, please enjoy my review of Custom Street Racing Racing 2!

First thing’s first, Natural Motion Games has created an incredibly complex mobile racing game. It’s console level intricate. I was only able to scratch the surface of what you’re capable of doing in CSR 2 and that’s half due to the fact that I’m a casual gamer that doesn’t play too often and half because it can be confusing AF. Maybe confusing is the wrong word, but overwhelming could easily take its place.

CSR Racing 2 Screenshot - Short Shift (5)

I’m going to start with the gameplay because that’s what most people really care about. Underneath the complex menus, options, and currency system, CSR Racing 2 is quite a simple, and fun, drag racing game with fantastic (mobile) graphics. You spend your time drag racing your first car, earn cash, upgrade your car, keep winning races, buy a new car, and so on and so forth. There is also a narrative to progress with which is a nice touch. The drag racing is simple yet addictive. You put your thumb on the throttle, try to keep the needle in the green, and after launching you click to shift and, if you have it, click the nitrous. To be honest, it’s very addicting and close races make your whole body clench up.

Next there are the almost limitless styles of races you can compete in. You can follow the story by uncovering clues to find your mentor’s stolen cars. How do you find the clues, you ask? By drag racing and earning respect in the streets, that’s how! You can also do casual drag races, live head-to-head drag races, and you can join a Crew. In my experience, I was dropped from both live races and kicked out of my Crew within a few hours. However, hardcore gamers will appreciate these modes.

And finally there are the sponsored challenges. I did not partake in any of them because 1, I don’t play enough to earn the cash, 2, I refuse to spend any real dollars on this game, and 3, they sort of confused me. From what a gathered, and each week and month is different, there are unique cars and challenges you can compete in to win one time prizes. For example, December 2017 currently has a Fate of the Furious car pack where you can compete in a small narrative and potentially win (or buy) the cars from that specific movie. These options change frequently so you never know what you could be missing out on!

CSR Racing 2 Screenshot - Short Shift (3)

Now, I apologize, but I do have a few issues with CSR Racing 2. I’ll start with the currency system. There are at least six ways to buy things in this game. There’s Gold, Cash, Bronze Keys, Silver Keys, Gold Keys, and then there’s real life money. You can earn all in-game currencies by playing and completing certain challenges but you can also buy more Gold, Cash, and Keys with real money OR you can acquire Gold by reaching certain milestones in other mobile games. That’s quite a lot to keep track of!

So throughout CSR Racing 2 you’ll earn these various forms of money sou you can purchase cars and items for your Garage. Cash and Gold are primarily used for purchasing cars and upgrades, such as turbos, exhausts, suspension, etc, but you can also use Gold to speed up those upgrade installation times. Yes, that’s right, every mobile game nowadays has a pay-to-play stipulation and CSR 2 is no different. When you want to unlock special deals, cars, or upgrades, you can contact Donna Banks to purchase things with your keys. The image below will hopefully make more sense of that.

CSR Racing 2 Screenshot - Short Shift (2)

That currency system is a little annoying but I get it, everybody’s gotta make money somehow. They couldn’t put out such a gorgeously detailed game without sipping on the microtransaction Kool-Aid. But despite the popup ads, the double-dipping way of purchasing things, and the sheer number of things to keep track of, the thing that gripes me the most is the VALUE of the money in CSR Racing 2. I’ll explain what I mean.

When you start the game for the first time, you can choose between a few basic cars such as Volkswagen GTI, Ford Fiesta ST, or Mini Cooper S. These all cost right around $30,000 which is normal. Then you have to grind and grind at races, earning about $1,000 a pop or more, to be able to afford enough upgrades to win against the first “boss”. In the game, I spent nearly $100,000 on my Volkswagen GTI and my absolute fastest quarter mile was 13.8 seconds. I could be crazy, but if you stick $100,000 into ANY car, you could run easy 10’s in real life.

CSR Racing 2 Screenshot - Short Shift (6)

Then, after you’ve grinded your way to beating the first boss, you move on to Tier 2 and eventually Tier 3. In Tier 3, a Ford Mustang GT costs $190,000! To make that kind of money and upgrade a Tier 3 car would take hours upon hours of real life time. Granted, the higher level you race at, the more money you can earn, but the scale is way too far off.

And that’s CSR Racing 2! I wasn’t able to cover everything but I did point out aspects that I liked and disliked. The graphics are gorgeous, the gameplay is tight, they nailed the interior and exteriors of the cars, and the maps update with the seasons; it was snowing during my race this morning. The currency system is way to convoluted, but I understand that the app developers need to make money. Also, I understand that some people have more money than time and some have more time than money. If you love cars and are stuck in a waiting room or an airport, I would definitely download CSR Racing 2 and play for a few hours. Just don’t get sucked in!

*All photos were screenshots from the installed game on my own Nexus 6P.