Developer: Codemasters Birmingham
Platform: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3, PC
Release Date: Out now!
Going into F1 2011 I have to say I felt a bit uneasy. I played through the 2010 version a bit and loosely follow Formula One, but I’ve never been overly excited by F1 on the whole, but after playing 2011 I’ve come out of the gaming experience with a new found appreciation for F1 racing. Whilst F1 2011 still has it’s flaws, it’s one of those games which has wriggled it’s way into my playlist and is something I can see myself coming back to for months to come. Like a lot of other sport games, 2011 offers an update to 2010. The game is nothing groundbreaking when compared to last years, but it still gives many improvements and additions throughout. When a game wins a BAFTA like F1 2010 did, it would be pretty stupid to change the game too much, so F1 2011 has made the smart move, stuck with their winning formula (excuse the pun) and given us a more polished, solid and extensive sequel. Let’s get this review underway.
Clearly Codemasters have been doing something right with their F1 franchise, so it was no surprise that F1 2011’s gameplay is real quality. The realism of the racing is amazing, and paired with an extremely complex game engine you could not be closer to the real thing.
For fans of Formula One, it will be a near masterpiece, however if you’re relatively uninformed about the world of racing and all of the rules it entails then this is a very complicated game to just pick up and play. AI is absolutely impossible to beat if you crank up the difficulty settings, and even on the easiest setting it will still be quite challenging for most people who are new to the game. There are settings which can assist new gamers such as traction control, however, just like the real thing, if you make a wrong move your time is stuffed. The addition of KERS and DRS has been welcomed by F1 fans, increasing the depth of strategy required and making it just that much more difficult for amateurs I feel the game would really benefit from a tutorial mode, a sort of “F1 101”, which would help lessen the gap between the casual gamers and diehard F1 fans. It’s the type of game that requires a lot of input or practice if you may, to really get the hang of and start enjoying. I get the feeling that this will deter a lot of casual gamers, but if you do persist there is some enjoyment to be found for all in this game.
Career mode is pretty well done, with the teammate challenge, objectives, and upgrades adding a lot of lasting appeal. Whilst the “Interviews” are a nice attempt, it gets very repetitive and quite annoying, not to mention the different responses seem to hold no real difference in impact upon your career path. The overall career mode also gets a bit repetitive after a while and whilst it is still a challenge to build up your racer’s career and lead him to glory, all the practices and qualifying get’s a bit laborious after a while.
Online is where F1 truly gives you your moneys worth, with Co-Op Championship mode providing you and a mate a great chance to compete with and against each other for the Constructors and Drivers Championship respectively. I am yet to experience any issues with online play, so this has got to go down as probably the biggest positive for the game.
Really impressive. There really isn’t much to criticise about the graphics, overall they are very polished and refined and do nothing but compliment the experience of the game. The wet weather visuals are probably the standout, although the little details such as unique steering wheels for each team, pit crew, and just the actual cars themselves are all really well done.
The wet weather details not only look great but really have an effect on the race, making it much more difficult for car handling and also act as a major vision obstruction, especially if driving close to another car, in which case you are almost driving blind.
If I had to take fault with something it would have to be with the atmosphere of the F1 tracks. Obviously a track is a track but it would nice to see a bit more variety in the environment of the circuits to make it feel like you’re actually in the specified nation. Some crowd animations and small things like that could really boost the feel of the circuit.
In terms of sound in the actual races, you are left with not much the bee-storm buzzing of the engines, which let’s be honest is the only sound you would want to be hearing when you are racing. The updates from your crew are a very nice touch, although it would be nice to hear a bit of chatter from the racers themselves.
In terms of the menu and out-of-race sound, it’s a little dry. A soundtrack would’ve been nice to accompany the menus as it gets a bit quiet when you’re flicking through and leading up to the race. To be honest I’m not sure why they haven’t put some music into the game as it’s quite a simple thing which, obviously doesn’t affect gameplay, but still bolsters the overall gaming experience for sure.
My main criticism of this game is the possible lack of appeal for people who don’t follow F1, as a result of the fairly steep learning curve which this game entails. Whilst a challenging game is always what we look for, it gets a little bit to finicky at times and isn’t a “pick up and play” sort of game. That being said, for those that stick it through and put the effort in to learn the rules and master the controls, it’s a truly rewarding and satisfying game. The visuals are fantastic, the online is great, and most importantly the races are extremely fun once you get the hang of the controlling. For F1 fans, it will undoubtedly be in their console for months on end, but even for more casual gamers, it’s still a great game to add to your collection.
F1 2011 gets: