Available on PC, Xbox One and PS4
Published and Developed by Codemasters
Formula One racing is extremely popular here in the UK with the BBC, until last year, screening each of the races on their coveted BBC One slot. I know many people who love F1 though I prefer the two wheeled variety of racing – MotoGP. Regardless of which mode of transport, I’m a fan of racing games and Codemasters’ F1 series has always been much-talked about in gaming circles so would their latest installment, F1 2016, live up to the anticipated hype?
I’ve never played a F1 game. I’ve played many MotoGP games though to be familiar with the sort of set-up I expected from F1 2016. With practice laps, qualifying and race sections, time trials, quick race, championship and career mode, the game has everything I have to come to expect from racing games based on actual sporting championships. However, F1 2016 is so much more than that.
I know that Formula One cars are much more technical than their racing motorbike counterparts due to their extra parts. With the ability to talk to the pit lane crew and with the drivers able to swap, test and try out various settings on their racing cars to get the most out of them, you can adjust each and every setting to finely tune your car to work best for you. The game offers an astounding level of tuning in this department, both pre-race and during race, that an F1 newb like me has no idea where to start. From tyres to fuel and everything inbetween, parts can be tweaked to gain the optimum setting. If you have a headset, you can even give commands to your pit crew engineer!
One of the things that I adore about F1 2016 is the realism. Every little scuffle I have on the track has an impact on the car’s bodywork. Bits get damaged or fall off and I visibly see the consequence as well as feel it in the handling of the vehicle. A trip down pit lane can solve these problems as long as you don’t mind wasting (what may be) precious time. The animation of the engineers working on your car is outstanding to watch. Other games could learn a thing or two in this department as I know that the MotoGP series is missing these authentic-feeling animations. F1 2016 has them all from cut-scenes of talks between you and your manager/solicitor to the end of race crew and podium celebrations. This gives you a sense of achievement when you win and see your driver up there on the podium and gives you something to aim for whilst realistically mimicking the F1 experience.
As a complete novice to the F1 game series but with racing game experience, I found the game easy to get into but challenging to master. There’s so many options to explore that a true F1 fan will be in their element. As I haven’t a clue what I’m doing with the F1 car itself other than what I know about motorbike racing, I did the minimal amount of tweaking in case I made my car unrideable. With a visual racing line assisting you throughout the race, prompting you when to reduce speed before the corners and showing you the ideal race line, you’re able to get a feel for things pretty quickly. I found I was learning the tracks better with the assist and it came in really handy during practice when I was attempting to complete challenges, such as race pace and tyre preservation, that reward you with points that can be used for research and development on certain aspects of the car. All this adds to the enjoyment and evolvement of the game.
For those who want to add a personal touch to their game and grow with it, Career mode is just the ticket. You can create your own racing driver, name them, choose their appearance and helmet, choose their nationality and, finally, select which team to join. From these humble beginnings, you can aim to rise the ranks to become champion but it won’t happen overnight. Some teams are faster than others and should you join these, more will be expected from you such as better results. As I’m a newb, I opted for a less successful team which allowed me to build up experience over the races without the pressure the top teams were receiving.
The actual racing element itself is extremely competitive as you do your best to overtake and block the other drivers to maintain and improve your position. Eyeing up an overtake and successfully achieving it is an amazing feeling as you fight for a spot on the podium. Whilst I found the game’s AI more challenging than MotoGP’s, the satisfaction of a simple overtake is that much stronger with F1 2016, especially when the cars around you can cause you damage at any time or even spin wildly out of control (which has happened to me! – see below vid).
To me, F1 2016 seems like a complete experience for any racing fan but especially for Formula One addicts. It puts you in the shoes of drivers such as Hamilton and Raikkonen and lets you experience, if only virtually, the work and decisions which goes into each and every race. It’s by no means easy which is why the game works as well as it does. This game manages to cater for hardcore fans as well as remain accessible for newcomers looking for a racing game. It truly has it all. With this year’s addition of safety car, virtual safety car and formation laps, the game seems to be looking to achieve race-sim status and, judging from 2016’s effort, I think Codemasters have nailed it. If only MotoGP could take a leaf out of their book.
F1 2016 on Steam also includes achievements, Steam trading cards, Steam leaderboards and Steam workshop.