Throughout the years, we’ve had Formula One games that were oh so close. The visuals were there, but it was always missing something. F1 2016 however, might have finally answered all of our prayers.
I’m not the biggest fan of watching Formula One. I can’t bring myself to understand the excitement of watching numerous cars doing the same lap of a course fifty odd times. I know it’s not as plain and simple as that and there is the occasional crash, risky overtake and what-have-you. But, for me, it does inevitably put me to sleep!
Not really the sort of person you’d be expecting to review the latest addition to the Formula One gaming series!
But I do love the video games. There’s nothing quite like immersing yourself in the pinnacle of motor vehicles, ready to thrash around a track and setting those perfect lap times. Hence why I enjoy the games more so than watching the real thing on TV. So when F1 2016 was released, I decided to give it a chance.
This years release was certainly not one to be passed up on.
Previous titles have most certainly been enjoyable, there’s no argument there. But there have always been some niggles, which have always given those previous titles rough edges. This year, however, those edges appear to have been smoothed out somewhat.
We begin with the spectacular visuals that F1 2016 has to offer and Codemasters have certainly left no stone unturned. Ranging from the beautiful backdrops on all of the circuits, to the awesome aesthetics of the wonderfully crafted Formula One cars, these visuals are sure to leave you suitably satisfied.
With regards to real world dynamics and again everything feels very akin to the real thing.
The career mode is as to be expected. With your own agent and a vague storyline which introduces you to your team and your ever changing rivals. The key to your rivals is to make sure you beat them at everything. Fastest lap times, qualifying position, race position and finishing without any penalties all come in to play to making sure you stay one step ahead of your rival. You’re also assigned minimum targets by your team before every qualifying session and race.
You’re also offered the chance to upgrade parts to your vehicle as and when you collect Upgrade Points. These are earned from partaking in the practice challenges. This however, feels very simple and would be better if you could delve slightly deeper in to the parts you could upgrade.
Once in the career mode you’ll notice there have been some changes which make the game all the more realistic.
Put to the test
The one big test is tyre management. All factors are taken in to consideration here. Braking, acceleration, how hard you’re turning in to corners and the type of tyre you’re using. It may seem simple on the face of it, but coupled with the introduction of new challenges in the practice rounds, it becomes quite a tough feat to accomplish. The task, albeit simple on the face of it, is to keep an indicator within the purple part of the bar throughout the track. But, you must maintain (or better yet beat) a designated lap time. It certainly takes a few attempts to even begin to master, but all for the better once you start to understand the longevity of tyres. Or the lack thereof! Try to complete a race with dodgy tyres. They’ll explode quicker than you think!
However, this isn’t the only new challenge in the practice rounds. You have Track Acclimatisation, which consists of just driving around the track, but making sure you drive through the gates which are located on the apex of every corner. You also need to activate DRS at the right time too. The key here is more skill and consistency, over speed. I find this challenge absolutely perfect to understand new tracks.
The last is Qualifying Pace. This consists of driving around the track as fast as you possibly can. Your lap times will be pitted against the others partaking and you will be assigned a preliminary place that you would be expected to head towards once you reach qualifying.
AI CAn’t Believe IT
Once past the practice rounds, it’s on to qualifying stages and Codemasters yet again hasn’t failed to showcase its plethora of customisable options. The ability to fine tune your vehicle is still ever present and plays a vital part in trying to push for those extra tenths of seconds where it counts. Strategic planning is key, both here in qualifying and in the race too. Choosing the right tyres and fuel load is oh-so important.
The qualifying stages certainly prove tough and dependent on the difficulty settings you choose. The AI of the other racers certainly will test your abilities. For those who have played the Forza series, you will feel at home with the customisable difficulty settings F1 2016 has to offer. You get the chance to earn more of a payout percentage by way of upgrade points, dependant on which of settings you have turned on and off. These range from the usual ABS and traction control, right the way down to a warm-up lap before races.
The flashback option is most probably the one you will want to have one if you are new to the game. This gives you the option to rewind the game, should you crash or make a mistake.
To the race itself and you certainly feel like it’s a real race day once you begin. Pushing off from the grid involves a clutch and maxing out the revs before releasing. If selected you will also proceed with a warm-up lap around the track. This involves you remaining in single file but gives your tyres and brakes a chance to become acclimatised.
Once in real race conditions, the AI works a hell of a lot better than before. No more stupid bumping and awkward manoeuvres. The other drivers behave as you would expect on a real life course. However, this isn’t without its drawbacks. Sometimes when on yellow flag conditions, you’ll find that the odd car still overtakes you and goes unpenalised, which can be very annoying.
The introduction of a safety car is a very cool one indeed. Again, if you’re a fan of having the game being more akin to real life, this is a must have. I was fortunate/unfortunate enough to have the safety car in my first race and I was surprised to find it works flawlessly. The safety car is introduced upon a serious crash within the race. Once deployed a “Gamma” is displayed in the top right hand corner of the screen and is essentially your timed distance between you and the safety car. Go too quick and you’ll be penalised. Go too slow and you will also be penalised. Finding a happy medium is key.
This can go on for numerous laps. Normally resulting in all the cars become a cigarette papers width from one another, essentially putting you back on square one. Once the safety car disappears, all bets are off and it almost appears to re-introduce the thrill of the race all over again!
All in all, F1 2016 has some very encapsulating features, such as the tricky tyre management and the beautiful visuals. Let down by minor bugs, such as the AI’s interpretation of rules, spoils this from being a perfect 10.