Well after a few weeks of been out, I have had the time to play, examine and see, to the best of my ability, how this game ticks. Now before I go into the game I want to let everyone know that I was playing this on the Xbox one, and I used a controller to play the game. Now I have used a wheel previously, not this game, however, so it was all played on my Xbox one controller. I have also not got into the multiplayer side of the game, I do tend to stick to playing single player if I do get into playing that side I will update this review.
Now this is the 8th year of Codemaster making the F1 games, the first been in 2009, on the Wii of all things, then it joined the Xbox and PlayStation the following year. Generally, the games have progressed well, until 2014 and 2015, which were quite simply dull and boring, if I want to just drive round tracks we got Forza or Project Cars for that. But now we will get into the good stuff.
The obvious thing is the career mode, the game from the first iteration wanted to recreate you been an F1 driver, and that you would rise the ranks to become F1 world champion. This season’s career adds so much more depth, with practice programmes, one getting used to the circuit, another doing long runs to see how fast you through your tyres, which the AI uses to determine the optimal strategy. The final one seeing how fast the car goes in qualifying trim. This gives you a reason to complete all the practice sessions. This, upon completion, gives you resource points which you use to upgrade your car. Now this is good and bad, the good been you can turn a Manor into a constructors winner, which is what I am doing. The bad I will mention a little later.
The next part of the much-improved career mode, is you get 10 seasons. This gives you the time to do exactly what I just mentioned, turn a Manor into constructors champions. Or you work your own way up to a top team if you do not feel like that team is for you after spending a season there, instead of just starting a new one up and having to redo most of the season again.
The third and final improvement I really noticed was two things. First the delta time during practice sessions and in time trial. It enables you to see exactly which part of the track you are losing or gaining the time. So for me I was struggling in sector 2 in Monaco, so as I went around I noticed most of that time was been lost at the hairpin and as I was coming into the swimming pool section. So using time trial, which brings me onto the second thing, I ‘borrowed’ a rivals setup as I advanced up the time trial leaderboards. This enables anyone struggling at any track to find a setup and tweak a setup ready for career mode. Then you may tweak some more in career mode so that you can make it much friendlier on the tyres.
Now the negative side of the game. Which starts with an issue that a lot of players have already talked about in any forum on the net. The difficulty differences, they are quite big. Most of them tend to be not a single second but we are talking two to three seconds in size. It can be such a degree that, in my case, I was easily fighting at the front with a Manor half way through season one, in the dry I will explain in a bit, but when I moved up to the next difficulty, which in this case was Expert to Legend, I was struggling to keep up with my team mate. I had to make the game easier for myself to keep up, again in this case I made the corner cutting regularly from strict. In other words, I have to cut corners to keep up. When going back to expert was too easy for me no matter what methods I used to make it harder for myself.
Next, we go back to resource points, now in the real world of F1 upgrading your car is about money, the bigger the budget the more you can upgrade your car, the faster you can too, it is why Sauber have not done any upgrades until the last race. But when you earn resource points in the game it is the same for anyone. So if you join Manor the first few races you will be racing at the back. However, you will concentrate on getting the resource points, and then you are upgrading the car quickly. So by the time you get to Monaco or in my case Canada you are fighting for the back end of the points. For any team in F1 doing this is virtually impossible. So it makes it very easy to get a Manor up to the front, probably within 2-3 seasons. Really they should have given teams lower down, with lesser budgets fewer resource points, say 30 for a perfect programme, and then once you break the top 5 teams in the constructors do you then get the 50 points for a perfect score, that would be my solution.
Finally, once again in two parts, racing in the rain is far too easy. Now as I mentioned about fighting near the front in the dry, in the rain, I am literally winning races. I can qualify first or near the front, regardless of team. I am fighting near the front, regardless of team, or even setup on occasion. It would take a few laps to adjust but once by simply been kind and feathering the right trigger was I able to get fast times in a Manor and qualify first. This I did in the wet hours before writing this review. The day before I won both the European Grand Prix and Canadian Grand Prix, both weather affected, this been on the Legend difficulty. Now I may admit this could be me been really good, so if anyone is having trouble in the wet feel free to drop me a tweet, but generally I am finding it very easy to cope in the wet. But on the flip side in the dry, I am finding that if my setup is even slightly out I am struggling. Certain corners, the hairpin at Monaco been one, that I just cannot keep up with the AI regardless. After seeing some videos on Youtube, of which there are many, it seems to be a lot easier to drive these cars with a wheel, in the dry. From the moment you start the game it has that feel of a wheel orientated game, even though most of the players won’t have one.
This game has its flaws, nearly any game considered great does. The only problem is that this game is still missing elements. Media interaction is a piece of the game that has been completely removed from earlier years. I want this back Codemaster, I would love to be able to go from the Motorhome to my car, or after a race goes to the media pen, interact with other drivers and not been an ass to them means they maybe nicer if I lap them. This would add the final piece to the game that its missing, the politics of F1. You may have a few races where you are penalised then the drivers use it to put pressure on you and seeing that interaction. Just simply been able to move around the paddock would add to the immersion.
This game though is heading, finally after two poor years, in the correct direction. More practice programmes, maybe as DLC for those who want to do. A setup engineer who you can give feedback to over the radio then make adjustments for you without the need of going into the settings of the car, so use words like oversteer or understeer and the AI will do something to the car to make it better for you. These little things would add more immersion to the game and keep it heading in the right direction. But please Codemaster no more like 2014 or 2015.