Ever since F1 2010 was released I’ve been hooked, so imagine how disappointed I was to discover that F1 2014 was a non-starter on the new generation of consoles. A year later F1 2015 is alive and I’m back behind the wheel, it’s just a shame that it it feels more like a McClaren than a Mercedes.
As the game begins you are given the chance to take part in the 2014 or 2015 championships, it’s a nice touch for those who missed being able to play F1 2014, so now you are able relive Fernado Alonso’s final season in a Ferrari you can.
As you hit the main menu I quickly noticed there was no career mode, which is a real shame, you can only race as one of the current F1 drivers, they have all been given their own CGI versions of themselves which adds to the authenticity of the game.
Championship Mode is exactly as you would expect, choose a team and team member and take part in a standard F1 season. You can customise your experience by dictating race distance and how the qualifying session should pan out, if you are in a rush you can try one-lap qualifying which does add an element of excitement to the event.
Depending on how well you can handle an F1 car you can customise which assists are on or off. You can also decide on how difficult your opponents are. I’m one of those racers that needs some assists, but this allowed me to up the AI to the expert level. I was surprised to see that I could hold my own against them, it was a constant fight in races and I loved it, one mistake could see you lose the race. In Canada I had got myself a lead of 4 seconds, but one mistake on a corner meant I damaged my front wing. In the lap I lost 3 seconds and spent longer in the pit than my opponents, Vettel took advantage and at that point I couldn’t catch him. It was an awesome experience.
The flashback system is still there if you want to rectify mistakes, but I personally turn them off for more of an authentic experience, that said, they are a great learning tool, giving you the chance to understand why you have made the mistake and what changing tact could do to help you.
There isn’t anything particularly special about the other game modes. Quick Race is exactly that, giving you the opportunity to select your favourite track and choose how long your race weekend is going to be. Time trial is a great way to learn the different tracks without having to commit to full races.
I would love to say that Pro Season was awesome and I bet it is, no assists, hardest AI, having to drive and no HUD available must surely separate the good F1 drivers from, well me. As I left the pit lane in Melbourne my first corner saw me spin out of control and lose my front right wheel, it never improved. An awesome new feature that you will need to take advantage of during Pro seasons is the ability to talk to your pit crew to check on the condition of your car, when rain is due and how you performing generally. It works really well, it’s just a shame the sound level is really quiet compared to the engines, leaving you struggling to hear what has been said.
Multiplayer is unfortunately a frustrating experience, I’ve had no problems getting races which is a bonus but once you are on the track the races are just too laggy, it was also annoying to see other racers cutting corners and flying off the track yet still being able to beat me, hopefully some patches can be implemented to improve the experience, it’s certainly better than previous attempts in the F1 series.
Thankfully the on track experience is nearly everything I could have hoped for, the cars feel solid and the racing experience feels spot on. Neat touches have been introduced such as having the pit crew bring you over a tablet to work out your race strategy and check on your opponents in practice and qualifying, another example is when your car is being pulled back in to the garage the engineer at the back of your car ducks out of the way of wires as he is walking backwards. The whole interaction with your pit crew is excellent, it’s just a shame that it feels like there is still a lot missing, it would be cool to take part in the formation lap, or even being able to enjoy your victory at the end by driving round once more, small touches could make a huge difference to the overall experience.
Graphically the cars look amazing, both the 2014 and 2015 liveries are there as well as all the neat features you would expect such as the brake pads lighting up as you force the car to slow down, even the heat haze coming from the back of the cars looks superb. It’s great seeing your driver address the different buttons in the steering wheel as you activate DRS or change gear, there is a fair bit of screen tearing on the courses when driving at the top speeds and some of the crash mechanics feel a bit off sometimes, wheels fall off at the slightest touch, but full on smashes result in just scratched bodywork.
I’m loving F1 2015, but the absence of a proper career mode really bugs me, the time Codemasters have had to produce the game could have seen some great strides in the game and yet ultimately they have sat on the fence and played it safe. F1 fans will enjoy the game, but it could have been so much more.
Thanks to Bandai Namco and Xbox for supporting TiX
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