To start off, let me just say that I am not the biggest or most hardcore of Formula One racing fans. I know the genre, but I do not follow it religiously. F1 2011 is a sequel to the critically loved F1 2010 by Codemasters. Last year’s title produced both good reviews from critics and, because it also remained true to its roots, it resulted in happy fans as well.
This is my first time getting a crack at this racing simulator franchise, and the first thing I found is that the learning curve is steep. You don’t have a tutorial, kicking things off in the career mode is full speed ahead on nothing but your wits. You start off as a new driver and get to pick which team you want to be apart of. You only have five choices initially. As you progress through your career as an F1 driver, offers will come in from other teams, such as; McLaren, Ferrari, RedBull and many more, with the a total of twelve that you can pick from. The realism in this game is simply fantastic, you can do anything to you car, tune it, change the aerodynamics, change the suspension, adjust the braking strength, adjust the gearbox, and pick your tires. Additionally, the mixture of the fuel can be adjusted, and it will definitely change the way the car drives and handles. The level of realism and the simulation strength that Codemasters has brought to the game can be quite overwhelming, especially for someone new to the franchise or those who can’t lay claim to the title “gearhead”.
F1 2012 offers three game modes: Career, Grand Prix and Multiplayer. You do need a code to access the multiplayer, which is a bummer for those who opt to buy it used. Multiplayer consists of standard, racing with 16 other people. Enemy AI is decent; you will feel them pushing back at you and displaying some great racing skills.
Visually, F1 races in with style. There are over twelve tracks from different countries, ranging from Canada’s Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve to Monaco’s Circuit de Monaco. What I like about the presentation is how everything looks like when you hit top speed. In this game, you really feel the G-Force, as if the tires are propelling you like a rocket ship across the asphault. The weather effects are wonderfully done, and the effect of water on the F1 cars make a huge impact. With so much detail on everything, one has to be very careful not to spend too much time admiring it all or else risk a nasty wreck. The cars have a crisp look to them, but be aware, they are fragile! I almost felt obligated not to crash just based on the visuals alone.
Sadly, the gameplay is where things began to fray along the edges. It does offer an Easy difficulty, where acceleration and steering are all the player needs to be concerned with, removing the simulation aspect of it altogether. This is great, if not a rather muted experience. However, once I bumped it to normal or hard, so I can partake in the rest of what F1 has to offer, I was doing nothing but crashing, fish tailing and over-shooting the corners. Since this is a simulation game, I would love to have had a tutorial level, where I could learn all the nuances I need to know to actually enjoy the full meat of the game. Since it just plunges you into the F1 world, and assumes that you know what you are doing, it becomes incredibly difficult for the novice or casual fan to jump in. It truly is for the more hardcore fans of Formula One, who knows everything about the sport, and wants to experience/simulate an F1 career. The controls feel solid, when you turn, the racer responds accordingly. The gameplay is very similar to any other racing title on the market, with cornering at 300Km/h bringing the challenge up a few dozen notches. it was great hearing the advice coming in from the crew, as do they give you tips and remind you of things like fuel level, and engine and tire temperature. The weather also plays a very prominent factor, as if it is raining, you will need to change your tires and your strategy, diving in as one would on a normal sunny day is suicide.
The audio stands on it’s own really well. The engine sounds are both powerful and realistic. When it rains, the ‘thwip-thwip-thwip’ sounds are just as they are when you are driving around town when the sky decides to open up. The crew chatter coming from your helmet is exactly as one would expect if they had a real-life pit crew advising their every move.
Overall, F1 2011 really prides itself in being realistic. Great presentation and sound and the gameplay gives justice to the real Formula One sport. After this, I have a new found respect for the drivers and their crew. Unfortunately, the experience was marred by newbie-unfriendly mechanics and any unfamiliarity with the franchise should certainly give gamers pause. This game is only for those who follow the F1 sport and who knows a thing or two about racing. Sorry, Mario Kart experience doesn’t count...
Release date : 2011-09-20
Publisher : Codemasters
Developer : Codemasters
Gameplay : Racing
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