Codemasters bring the premiere motorsport to the new generation of consoles after a conspicuous absence last year. With a new engine and a slimmed-down set of features in tow, how does it compare, and more importantly, how good a representation of Formula 1 is debuted on the PS4 and Xbox One?
Game: F1 2015
Reviewed on: (Review copy provided)
When I reviewed last year’s F1 game on the PC, I said that it felt like a PS3/Xbox 360 game with a slightly more impressive set of textures wrapped round the same wireframes, and not much else to show for it. Graphically, this year’s outing looks like it’s had quite a bit of work done to it, and the evolved EGO engine powering the game is certainly used to great effect. Whilst there is a definite improvement over the previous versions, the game can frequently look quite bland and pretty sterile. However, I think this is down to the clinical nature of the sport, in that you don’t have dirt flying all over the track, or much going on outside of the racing.
When it comes to the gameplay, it definitely handles really nicely, with just the right amount of twitchiness that you’d expect from an F1 title. As ever, flicking off all of the assists throws up an incredible challenge, which will take a while to master for most users. The sense of speed is incredible when you’re in any of the front viewpoints, but as soon as you throw the camera to behind the car, it feels a little bit lacking, which is a shame as this is the way I tend to play racers. The AI in the game is definitely improved from last year’s version, although the teams do tend to bunch up quite a lot on the track. My initial thoughts were that the individual AI seemed to be a little lacking, but the more you increase the difficulty, the better it gets, to the point where you too will be cursing Pastor Maldonado’s aggressive entry into a corner you’d swear you had the line on!
When I say that “you” had the line on, what I actually mean is “The F1 driver you’ve decided to encapsulate for this race”. That’s right, the baffling omission this year is the career mode. Gone is the staple “story mode”, where you take the place of one of the drivers and work your way through the seasons, forming rivalries and allegiances, and in its place is a generic “Championship Season” mode, which is essentially allowing you to drive all of the races in order with a points tally at the end of it all. “Pro Season” is much the same, but with all assists turned off, no HUD, and the difficulty ramped up to the fullest. The only other options in the menu are single race and multiplayer, which seems to function as you’d expect from an online racer these days (Well, if you go by DriveClub’s benchmark it’s leagues ahead!) Overall, there is a serious content issue with F1 2015. The lack of a proper career mode as well as the Co-op seasons mode that’s been featured before is a huge disappointment, and one that seems to make the decision to delay the next-gen release a confusing one, as the general consensus was that they wanted to make it as fully featured a release as possible. I mean, there’s the option to replay the events from the 2014 season if you want to, but there’s not really much else to do besides the modes mentioned above. It’s a crushing shame really, as the promise of last year’s delay on the new console launch gave us such hope.
F1 2015, in all essences, is a mixed bag. Once you start to get past the guided corners and driving assists, it feels like a solid racer. The improved AI comes to the fore in higher difficulties, with a real emphasis on teamwork (that sometimes feels a bit forced, with typical 1-2 Maclaren finishes…) If you’re after a game that simulates multiple F1 races and not much else, then this is the game for you. If, however, you’re after the fully featured F1 games of yesteryear with more graphical grunt behind them, you’re probably going to have to hold off for 12 months. The lack of content really holds this back from getting a higher score, and here’s hoping Codemasters can put everything from the previous games back into next year’s edition. If they can, it should be a stellar package. As it stands? It’s average.