Over the last few decades Codemasters has long been one of the best developers teams when it comes to racing games and while Forza and Gran Turismo have taken the limelight in circuit racing, Codemasters return with F1 2016, hoping to expand on the foundations laid down with last years title.
Anyone who played F1 2015 will know it certainly wasn’t a bad game, but it was a little light on content, feeling like a bare-bones packaged rushed out to fulfil the void on Xbox One and PS4. This time round Codemasters Birmingham have had a much wider development cycle and as soon as you fire up the game the improved presentation and attention to detail is immediately apparent.
Jumping into career mode you’re greeted by your new agent with a brief overview of the options available, jump into the paddock and the mind bending amount of data is presented in a simple way that never seems to push the boundaries but ensures you’re constantly given as much data and information as you want.
This attention to detail carried throughout the game, whether it’s famous faces, the life-like representation of drivers and their respective cars, or even the dynamic info portrayed not only through the HUD but also the world around you, everything feels perfectly authentic and fans of Formula 1 will be pleased to see the lengths Codemasters have gone to, to create an experience on par with the authenticity we’re used to seeing from EA sports titles.
Both sound and visuals are portrayed in perfect balance and there’s some really breathtaking moments, anyone who has driven through a downpour that saturates the screen quicker than your wipers can clear it, will fully appreciate the rain effects as your race from the starting grid towards the first corner, your vision impaired enough to question every single braking point, and careful jostling for position knowing one mistake will leave you spinning.
Heading into the actual gameplay mechanics and my first few races where a mixed bag, my initial thought was how smooth everything was, placing F1 2016 on par with the like of Forza, I couldn’t believe how accessible the driving mechanics felt, easing round the corners with a few assists on low, my only problem was maintaining a high enough speed to make much ground on the opposition.
Next race, I altered the down-force of my car, giving me slightly more speed, but less control of handling and the difference was night and day, battling through to second place, closing down on the leader and I clipped a curb a little harder than expected, struggling to maintain control, I caught the wall and my race was over, the collision had snapped the wheel strut and the front wing was flying across the track.
Next on the list was to check out multiplayer, me and a good friend (Colin) decided to test out the co-op championship, and we decided to take control of the Red Bull team, using Max Verstappen’s car, I already had the excuse he had the faster set-up, but soon after he was complaining about handling (as he screamed into Pole position) a few seconds later, I crossed the line in 14th struggling to work out where I could get more speed from and once again I decided to tinker with the setup, which inevitably left me in a wall and retired on the next race.
Regardless of whether it was poor set-up decisions, a slower car, sabotage or Colin actually being better than me at a game, one thing was obvious and that’s how much depth there is if you wish to explore it.
Regardless of whether you go for down-force, speed or different tires the slightest adjustments can make a pretty big difference to your cars performance, and the emphasis is on finding the perfect balance, many games have tried to push you towards practice sessions, but for years, I’ve been used to skipping straight to qualifying, but F1 2016 is different, I found myself wanting to practice on the tracks, perfect the corners and find the best set-up for my car, and the added reward of unlocking resource points mean that especially during a career, you’d be silly not to make the most of each and every session.
So with so many positive, what exactly is wrong with F1 2016…. Well if your a fan of Formula 1, or even just a fan of more ‘realistic’ racing then there’s really not much wrong with it at all, sure you could point some fingers at a few AI decisions, or even the depth you’ll need to explore to find the perfect balance.
For newcomers, it’s only slightly different thanks to a vast range of assists that make racing just as accessible as Forza or Gran Turismo, except you’re not stuck in a Ford Focus when you want to be in a Ferrari.