I am a long time motorsport fan of all kinds, both in real life and gaming forms. This includes Formula One, but unfortunately not always the F1 games. Although they have usually been technically good games, for some unknown reason I have never gotten the enjoyment from them that I should, both as a gamer and a fan of the sport. I still, after all this time, can’t put my finger on why. The last game I played in the series of licensed games was Formula One Championship Edition, which I picked up cheap for the Playstation 3. I initially enjoyed the game, but over a short amount of time it lost it’s appeal.
Come September of this year this could change, as the latest officially licensed Formula One game is released. The one thing that is giving me hope that this could mark a change for the sport in video games, is that it is being created and developed by Codemasters using the technology platform utilized for both Colin McRae DIRT 2 and Race Driver GRID, which has been further developed to handle both the aerodynamics and speed of Formula One cars. This is more than enough to have me interested as Codemasters have a long running history of turning out racing games which have been both a lot of fun to play as well as being technical enough to keep fans of whichever motorsport the game revolves around happy. The way I think the developers of these games managed this was by getting the balance perfect between being a driving simulator and an arcade racer. If they can bring that mix to a Formula One game then it should be better than any of the previous licensed games so far.
What may throw a spanner in the works though, is that the developers are aiming more towards the simulator style handling. Don’t get me wrong, I would rather have a car with more realistic handling. But I do hope this does not backfire for them and turn off the more casual gamer. Stephen Hood, the Chief Games Designer, stated “You can make a realistic sim easier to play for somebody but it’s very difficult to take arcade handling system and make that appeal to people who prefer simulation handling”. So hopefully, looking at itÂ from this angle, they can pull it off and cater to both fans of the simulator style system like myself, and slightly more forgiving system for those who like it a little more arcade, pleasing gamers no matter how they prefer the handling.
Another thing that not only looks amazing but will have a huge effect on the gameplay, is the dynamic weather system that is being designed for the game. It is looking to be one of the most realistic in a game so far. Although the weather will be dynamic, they have made it so as you are unlikely to get rain while racing at a circuit you would not expect rain in real life. For instance, chances of rain while racing in Abu Dhabi are slim, however racing in the UK presents more of a chance of encountering a wet race. When it does come, it is much like the racing in real life as the clouds gather overhead and the skies over the track darken. Players will be able to gain a tactical advantage by changing tires early or waiting until the last minute to do so. When the heavens do eventually open up, you will begin to realize the enormity of the weather system. The developers tell us that every 30 square centimeters of the track will have it’s own data as to how wet it is, meaning that on a wet track, over time, a definite dry racing line will appear as cars stick to the racing line. The rest of the track meanwhile will be wet with puddles and streams of rainwater gathering. This system does not only deal with weather effects on the track, but also for dust and dirt, meaning that it is within the players best interest to stick to the racing line, as straying from it could quite easily lead to them losing control and bringing a premature end to their race.
The game will include all teams, drivers and cars from the current 2010 season, along with all the tracks used throughout the year and game modes such as single race, time trial and Grand Prix Championship. But these modes to me come second place compared to the promised extensive career mode in which the player takes control of a driver, be it an existing driver or, like in DIRT 2 and GRID, a player created driver, over a period of three, five or seven years, through which they must achieve goals, win races and ultimately become a champion F1 driver.
Another thing I expect from the game is an amazing damage model. If the other two aforementioned games are anything to go by as examples, then we will not be disappointed, as Codemasters usually nail this aspect of their racing games. Although we never want to crash our cars in the heat of a race, accidents can and most definitely will happen and when they do, what gamer does not want to see a spectacular collision.
Although there is a lot more information yet to be released on the game, and a few months before the scheduled release in September, so far what we have been told and shown makes it look like this is shaping up to be a stunning Formula One racing simulator. I just hope that Codemasters can continue adding to their stable of racing games that both look amazing, as you can see from these screenshots which show last years cars in action in the game, and are just as much fun to actually play.
And so my hopes are high that Codemasters can change things for me and deliver the Formula One game that I have been looking for all this time. Everything i have seen up to this point say yes to me, but time will tell and we will have to wait until September to have these questions answered.