AFTER a long shutdown, F1 is back on our TV screens. Now its video game companion returns too, just in time to burn some rubber – and the smell is oh so sweet.
That’s not always been the case with pixel iterations of the flashy motor sport. And even though stalwart developer Codemasters has consistently taken small steps to keep the series on track, it’s only now that it’s made the leap to must-own racer.
That’s mostly thanks to the new My Team management mode, which puts you both in the pit of your own racing team to call the shots and behind the wheel, chasing down rivals. Not only will you select sponsors, manage contracts and improve facilities, you’ll also control an R&D upgrade tree to manage progression and get a head start on the competition. Not fussed about playing team captain? Getting behind the simulated wheel has never been better. Handling has had a welcome overhaul, making cornering a feat of attention and strong hands, while fellow racer AI leans more towards aggression. While this may not mimic the more cautious real-life racers, for a video game it makes perfect sense to up the ante.
The split-screen racing for sofa co-op is another element that increases the revs, adding an old-school vibe to the modern dimensions that come with the F1 brand.
For purists, the delayed F1 season has resulted in some minor setbacks in the latest edition. For one, the 2020 season isn’t entirely mapped out: some of the rumoured replacement circuits, such as Ferrari-owned Mugello, and Portimao in Portugal, don’t make the cut, while two new tracks scheduled for the season – the dunes-based Zandvoort and Hanoi, with its sweeping straights – do. Eagleeyed fans will spot slight differences with team uniforms as well. Meanwhile, simulated media interviews drag in the singleplayer campaign and the Michael Schumacher theme (he’s the ‘face’ of the Deluxe Edition) adds little. But these are tiny bumps in the road and none of these issues detracts from a series that’s come of age, delivering something that’s accessible for video game racer fans and authentic for the F1 faithful.
Turning a corner: The F1 video game series has come of age