New year, new F1 game.
For some reason known only to the gods of gaming, I passed on last year’s entry in the F1 series from Codemasters. From what I have heard, that was no bad thing as F1 2015 came up short in more than a few areas. Still, a year passes and another F1 offering appears to take gamers money. F1 2016, with all of the teams and tracks from the most recent racing season, turns out to be the incredibly full featured F1 game on the new generation of consoles, complete with a career mode, that fans of the series have been waiting for.
I can’t believe that there are gamers out there that have not experienced an F1 game before, but I would be remiss if I didn’t state this from the outset. F1 2016 is a Formula One racing simulation game. This is no arcade game for players who want to race at high speeds while nudging opponents out of the way and sliding the car around corners. Mastering a game such as this takes many, many hours of practice, and intimate knowledge of the sport, and at higher levels of difficulty, something that goes beyond just keeping the car on the tarmac. It is a tense undertaking where milliseconds can mean the difference between winning and losing, or where millimeters stand between the perfect corner or losing control. This is the stuff of sweat-inducing nightmares.
Well, if that hasn’t scared you off, then you must know your stuff. Scaremongering aside, casual racing fans can find an incredibly in depth racing game here, but they will need to put the work in, even at the lowest difficulty levels. There is an abundance of driver aids that will help out and make things that little bit easier, but the reality is that F1 2016 comes into its own when the game is embraced as a simulation of the sport.
Fans of Formula One will already know that each latest entry in the videogame series offers everything from the most recent racing season. This includes all of the current drivers and teams, along with the different tracks that make up the full season of racing. For F1 2016, this includes what is perhaps the most exciting new addition to Formula One in quite a while, Azerbaijan’s Baku City Circuit.
But of course, for the players, the most important thing is the return of the career mode. The customisation options in career mode are endless, from the player first creating their very own driver and choosing which team to join and which driver to replace in that team, through to tweaking the lengths of race weekends, should time be an issue. Players can compete for up to 10 seasons, which is a massive undertaking should the player take advantage of the various practice sessions on offer for each weekend.
The practice sessions that take place before qualifying have often been somewhat ignored by all but the most dedicated F1 racer. But here in F1 2016 they have been given purpose beyond just learning the track. Track acclimatization is still a thing, as players will always benefit from knowing the nuances of a track that little bit better, but it is made more interesting than just randomly driving around with the inclusion of gates and targets. Then there are tyre preservation and qualifying pace tests, all of which add to the overall team strategy and offer resource points which pave the way for improvements through research upgrades that can give the player an edge in the upcoming race.
Truth be told, there is a lot more going on outside of the main race than ever before. The star of the show, as always, is the actual race though. Rivalries with other racers offer more intimate goals for a player, while career goals keep the player seeing the bigger picture and aiming for more. The safety car is back in all of its glory, and on track strategy such as timing pit stops and tyre changes give the player a lot more to think about than simply getting around the track. Players looking for even more realism can manually control their entry to the pit lane, or try their hands at a manual start to the race, which can make a massive difference to the players position.
Outside of the career mode, there are the usual options for multiplayer races with up to 21 other players. Again, there are multiple ways to customise these races to the players preference. For the serious multiplayer gamer, there is even the option now to play a full race season in multiplayer, which is quite the epic undertaking.
Visually, F1 2016 looks pretty damn good. A lot of work has gone into recreating the various circuits, including the backdrops. It is a shame that players will not have the chance to take in these incredible sights as they speed around the track. The lighting effects add to the realism, with different times of day further improving the experience. Then you have weather effects – there is nothing quite as incredible as screaming around a track, fighting for control, in the pouring rain.
For the fans of Formula One, F1 2016 really does have a lot to offer. There is a deep career mode that can be tweaked in so many ways to go as technical or light as the player wants, and there are plenty of multiplayer options. The key word in F1 2016 is realism, and if you are looking for a realistic F1 racing experience, this is the game for you. F1 2016 could be the most impressive F1 racing game ever, and deserves a place in the game library of any racing fan.