24 cars on the grid, five red lights and we are go, go, go! And it’s a great start for Button as he takes the lead into the first corner here at Albert Park. What’s this? Yellow flags waving, looks like Maldonado has taken out Vettel. And just like that the safety car emerges from the pit lane.
It’s that time of the year and Codemasters have released the latest Formula 1 game. Do you have what it takes to become the Drivers Champion?
Before you get to put your pedal to the metal and push your car to its limits, you’ll first have to complete the Young Drivers Test.
This is a glorified tutorial which will teach you the basic driving mechanics of an F1 car. For example, hairpin turns, DRS, KERS and wet weather racing.
Personally I think that this is a great take on introducing new players to the realms of F1 but experienced racers will find it pointless as everything covered would have been used in the previous games.
Codemasters have added a new game mode called Season Challenge. The aim of the mode is to become the champion of the F1 season in just 10 races. You start off with a team that is usually found at the back of the grid (the likes of HRT, Caterham, etc). Then you pick a rival, for example Paul di Resta. If you beat your rival 2/3 races you get to take his place on the team (in this case, Force India). You could make Jenson Button your rival, but if you are playing on a decent difficulty setting, will you beat him?
I found Season Challenge to be a fun new addition to the F1 franchise due to its quick progression through the teams in the game and the challenge of beating your rival. Of course die hard F1 fanatics will not appreciate the single lap qualifying and short 5 lap races.
As you would expect the standard Career mode is back in the game, without much change from previous incarnations. The menu system has changed, gone are the days of walking around the paddock to talk to the press, and speaking to your manager in the back of your trailer. There is now a cleaner menu layout, where you can access emails (about race times, upcoming races and your team principal’s comments), view what is being said about you in the press, and go to race days.
The weather system in race days has improved from previous games. For example, you can start a race in the wet and as the weather gets better, surface water is retained in certain corners, allowing for quick racing in the dry apart from the odd wet hairpin. The dynamic weather makes you think a lot more about your racing strategy especially the pit stops.
Champions Mode is another mode added to the game this year. It sees you face off against the six former F1 champions (that are present in the current season) in different challenges.
These include: trying to keep Lewis behind you as you’re on the last laps of the Sao Paulo grand prix, you have slicks and it starts raining. Or overtaking Kimi Raikkonen in the last three laps of Spa.
The challenges are fun and challenging (on hard) and will have you throwing your controller at the TV after a few attempts. It also provides a nice break in between the long races in the career mode.
Both Time Attack and Time Trials are back, allowing you to practice circuits without the fear of crashing into other cars or losing the race. And of course setting the best time possible, saving your ghost and challenging one of your friends to beat it.
The online multiplayer is good and bad. If you have a group of friends that can race properly and observe the rules then you will have brilliant fun racing around the circuits.
But if you enter a public lobby be prepared for the onslaught of destruction as people crash into you at every corner. With the 16 player cap on multiplayer races my experience was pretty much lag free. There is also split screen multiplayer allowing you to race on one console with two controllers. This is great for having a race when a mate is visiting.
The graphics in the game look good, both on the tracks and the cars. The scenery around the track is sharper and more indulging. And now the mechanics in the garage look human which makes a change from the zombies featured in previous editions.
The handling of the cars has changed, I found that I had more grip with my tires helping me avoid the spins that encumbered me in previous games. The steering seemed more responsive, especially when taking corners at high speed. And you are now also able to change your brake bias from the d-pad.
This game feels like a Formula 1 game should. It is a great update to a series that I have enjoyed from the start. The new game modes are a welcomed addition to the game and surprisingly fun and addictive. I would have liked more challenges in Champions Mode though.
The overhaul of the weather systems makes racing more about the strategy and trickier in certain situations.
So what are you waiting for, get your helmet, gloves and become the Drivers Champion.