Gaming Review: F1 2015

Review: F1 2015

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I’m sure everyone has at least one series of games they just can’t quite stay away from. No matter how much you tell yourself it’s ‘the same game’ or that you’re not interested you’ll still rush out and grab the next update. F1 is definitely one of those for me. Part of it stems from the growing sense of pointlessness that surrounds the real sport. I’m a fan of the V10 days when it was more about racing and less about everything but. So I guess the games are a chance for me to enjoy the best bits of F1 without worrying about losing millions in fees or if my shoes were 2 grams below regulation.

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There was a lot of disappointment for me when I found no career mode. There’s nothing quite like starting out with the worst cars and the worst equipment and having to push hard just to keep up with other drivers. When you finally get to the big leagues and start driving the best cars there was a real sense of achievement.

Well you better forget about that because the best option available is Championship mode. To be fair this offers a pretty good outing into a season of F1. It allows you to choose from the start which driver and team you will be with and then it’s up to you to do the racing. In a way it ensures that F1 2015 remains focused on the racing but it still felt like something was missing without the option of a career.

Of course if you used to play the championship mode and not take on the more involved career mode this is going to make little to no difference. But for a game released as regularly as F1 removing features really is a big misstep. It’s difficult not to consider that F1 2014 offered more. Even if something is included in a brief way at least it’s there.

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Even more of a problem is that 2015 suffers from the same problems the sport (in my opinion) has been suffering from for years. There’s still some good racing going on and the drivers are undoubtedly some of, if not, the best in the world. If everyone was in the same car we’d definitely see a different sport. Even though I love the strategy behind F1 it’s a pain to see the same car winning every single race without competition. Bring back the Montoya, Schumacher, Alonso days. At least there where some characters battling it out back then.

The problems are the same in F1 2015. Mercedes will likely win every race with little to no competition, other than yourself. It does make a difference which team you’re in but not as much as you might expect. It’s fun to be the underdog and show the big players what you can do even despite the arguable lack of realism. The less realistic, more competitive moments are definitely more fun and given the lack of a multi-championship career mode is much needed to keep everyone playing as a top team to be competitive.

Racing itself hasn’t altered much and Codemasters have pretty much got it figured out – as you’d hope by now really. There’s a sense of improvement but the essentials are clearly derived from previous instalments. It’s one of the areas F1 2015 feels like a distinctive upgrade from previous F1 games. Once you tweak the difficulty and find out which assists you want on or off there is the usual sense of satisfaction and accomplishment from each corner you nail. Hitting an apex or getting an awesome lap time when the car is at prime performance can only happen in F1.

Likewise when you play with full races then it rains and the AI isn’t clever enough to realise your braking things can get annoying. Oh, how I hate throwing away hours of effort because of one AI mistake. But F1’s an endurance race and that’s what happens. Plus you can always set the laps lower and the assists higher. There’s enough options that everyone will find a comfortable level to play at and to be honest the better players will struggle to find a challenge more than players like me will struggle to find the sweet spot.

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Visual updates are left to a minimum which is a bit disappointing but nothing disastrous. For a game that has so many new releases the visuals do need a little attention as they’re starting to show their age. As usual the rain effects are outstanding and the fact it means a pain of a race can often be forgiven for the good looks. Outside of the rain there’s not much to amaze. It certainly doesn’t look poor but there are a lot of features that are beginning to show how long it’s been since they received any significant attention.

The audio does nothing much to excite either. Most of the effects are flat and lack any punch or real drama. Admittedly F1 engines are high pitched without much bass but if they’re anything they’re exciting. And loud. Very very loud. I imagine there’s an incredible sense of power and intensity sitting in the cockpit of even a stationary F1 car and little of that is represented in F1 2015.

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By far the biggest let down with F1 2015 is its lack of career mode. Not only is there nothing new on offer but in fact certain elements have been removed. Once the mechanics, the tracks, the cars and the drivers are all in order adding game modes should be a no brainer. One extra mode can add a huge amount of playability. Championship mode is good but I definitely missed the option of a full career. Luckily there are still quick race options like time trials and some decent online options but again there’s the lack of split screen. There are just some things missing.

Mechanically speaking everything is well on track. The only changes made to the way the cars handle are improvements. The audio and visuals get ignored somewhat but the actual racing gameplay does a good job of making up for it. It’s good that the core mechanics have still been given the attention they deserve and Codemaster’s wealth of experience shines through. But there are definitely places where F1 2015 is lacking.

SUMMARY

+ Solid F1 racing mechanics
+ Good set of difficulties and assists will accommodate almost everyone
- No career mode at all
- Little improvement to audio and visuals
- Doesn’t feel like a significant step forwards from the last game

Reviewed on PS4. Also available on Xbox One and PC.
phillvine
Phill has been the director of a small IT repair business since 2011 which he runs alongside studying for his degree in Information and Communication Technologies at the Open University. Video games are his real passion and they take up more of his time than he'd like to admit.

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