I've always had a slow-burning, secret passion for Grand Prix, more specifically, the games resulting from the sport. I do keep an eye on the results of the season, but watching the actual races bores me to tears. But, sit me in front of one of the games and I'll be entertained for hours - possibly because my father introduced me to F1 Pole Position 2 at a very young age. But that's a story for another day.
Grand Prix Story is the latest game from Kairosoft, developers of such games as Game Dev Story, Hot Springs Story and Mega Mall Story, all for iOS. Instead of the usual position of being in the driver's seat, you're behind the scenes as the team director. You start off with an inexperienced driver and two equally inexperienced mechanics, and a garage. To start racing, you'll have to create a car, but your first car won't get you very far - you'll have to race to get money, experience and research data before you can get even third place.
There is a huge amount of depth to this game despite how it first appears. You can train your driver to get better skills, and unlock better training drills to train better, and he occasionally gets an Aura, which is sort of like 'the Zone', that makes him much better at his next task. Your mechanics can be levelled up to research and repair your cars quicker, and they can also get skills when performing tasks. You have to research new cars and parts, but you'll have to figure out how to unlock the plans. Once researched, your cars and parts can level up to have higher performance, and they can also be upgraded separately to the same effect. Your team eventually expands to 2 groups of 6 mechanics and 1 driver, and hiring and firing is important. Finally, there are sponsorships to unlock that pay you for racing that can also level up to give you more money. There is a lot going on in this little game.
Don't worry, though, the game does a very good job of introducing you to all the different nuances of the game. Not everything is available from the start of the game; new things are added when the game thinks you've grasped the last thing it gave you. I never once felt overwhelmed which is quite an achievement.
There are a lot of races to take your team to, as well as three Grand Prix's, which will keep you busy for a long time. It's difficult, if not impossible to win a Grand Prix as soon as you unlock it, as they tend to have opponents that are a large jump from the previous races you were doing. However, continuing to race and upgrade will get you your podium place.
The game uses a score system like previous Story games, and stops recording after 10 years, with the ability to continue afterwards if you want to see everything. However, you can start again, this time picking a car plan and part to take into your new game to give you a head start - although you have to be careful because if you pick a really powerful car, your newbie mechanics won't be able to build it to specification.
Long story short, this is a great little game that isn't getting any less fun despite having played through it twice. Heartily recommended for simulation fans or people with a cursory interest in racing. It gets a 5/5 stars, and now you'll have to excuse me because I need to create a better car for the Formula One.