Round and round again
Publisher codemasters / Developer Codemasters / Format xbox 360 / release date Out now
The fifth game in as many years, F1 2014 has a lot to do in order to impress. The tall order was made even loftier with Codemasters’ announcement that we wouldn’t be seeing an Xbox One version until next year. Two iterations ago, perhaps we wouldn’t have been so concerned, but the rot has well and truly set in. With only a few recent additions to the game’s structure F1 2014 is perhaps the least essential outing since the series’ inception.
It does keep pace with all the yearly shifts in the sport, including new liveries and new efficient engines, which pack a deep and growly punch. If you listen closely you can hear that über-turbo kick in as you rev. The drivers have all been successfully reshuffled into their new drive seats, and there are two new tracks – Austria’s Spielberg circuit and the Sochi Autodrom in Russia. The pair offer vastly different racing experiences, with the former providing satisfying sweeping corners, wonderful changes in elevation and a great run-up to the first turn. The latter is a street-like circuit with tight 90º bends that demand discipline.
The racing itself remains largely unchanged, which keeps F1 2014 above board as one of the most thrilling and satisfying racers out there. Racing wheel-to-wheel feels dangerous: a ten-lap battle with Fernando Alonso around Hungary’s Hungaroring saw us trading rubber at 150+mph. It’s truly thrilling, despite being so familiar. Races themselves will be immediately recognisable to anyone that’s played prior games, and so it’s disappointing to hear the same dialogue from your race engineer, reinforcing the déjà vu.
Even the race patterns mange to feel familiar, without any new beats to punctuate the action. The weather system remains gorgeous, smothering you with glorious H O as you tentatively approach every turn, but how it affects races remains unchanged.
F1 2014 is by no means out of the race, but when competing against the likes of Forza Horizon 2 it’s running in a significantly lower gear than the new-gen ‘social racers’. Like Sebastian Vettel, this year Codies’ series is doomed to be an also-ran. OXM
Rain-affected races are hectic sensory assaults where you have to be disciplined with accelerating and braking.
Reviewer Sam White Live Jams Bend @samwrite