F1 2014

Round and round again

XBox: The Official Magazine - - REVIEW -

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

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