F1 2015 Review
With the F1 2015 season well underway in real life, Codemasters has finally delivered its first F1 experience on the next generation of consoles. Promises of deep immersion, authentic racing and a retooled Championship Season mode have pushed expectations to a crescendo over the last couple months. However, the question is and always has been, will the absence of multiple modes and features keep F1 2015 on pit road, or will the core gameplay allow it to blaze past the finish line?
That’s what we are about to find out.
As with any racing title, it comes down to the core racing mechanics; if those are not on par, then the rest of the game simply does not matter. Thankfully, our British friends have delivered an incredible racing experience on the track. From the moment you climb into your digital cockpit and strap on your helmet, the intensity and excitement is palpable. While that may sound like an exaggeration, trust me when I say it is not.
If high-intensity racing is not necessarily your thing though, Codemasters also caters to different experiences and desires. What that means is you can modify the game so it drives differently for you, while simultaneously you can create a separate set of options for the AI. Still, keep in mind that this is not NASCAR, and the execution on the track requires a precision and delicacy that is a must if you're planning on actually finishing races in the points. The ability to navigate the twists and turns of a standard F1 track will require you to understand the use of rolling through corners, feathering the throttle and brake, and maintaining focus throughout the whole race. While the driving at its core is rather simple, it will take a lot of time to master each and every track's little nuances.
Beyond the track, F1 2015 also forces you to think about the auxiliary side of racing. As if navigating a crowded track while operating a machine built for speed and precision was not difficult enough, F1 2015 forces you to constantly think about the changes needed during a pit stop. What type of tyre will fit your style and climate the best? Do you need a wing or nose adjustment? Do you need to tighten or loosen the car? Thankfully, all of this can be done on the fly. If it’s overwhelming, your engineer does an admirable job of making suggestions and explaining the ramifications of each decision. Even on the most rudimentary of settings, the game requires skill and understanding if you plan on being consistently successful -- and even more once you breach the higher difficulties.
As with most games, once you get past the mechanics of the title, the importance factor gravitates towards features and modes. For everything that F1 2015 does right on the track, it stalls a bit in in the modes department.
Championship Season is relatively straight forward. You pick any one of the officially licensed F1 drivers, and then guide him through an entire season ('14 or '15). The game follows the exact schedule as real life, and it also allows the users to run a full weekend, replicating what would happen during a standard F1 weekend. Don’t have three hours to spend on a full weekend? No worries, Codemasters allows the user to tailor the experience to your liking. If you choose to shorten the experience, you will still get all the pageantry and excitement of the weekend, but in a much less time-consuming fashion.
Pro Season is pretty much a cut and paste of the Championship Season, but with a few differences. In Pro Season, one still picks a driver, still follows the official schedule, but now you will be racing the AI on the hardest of difficulties without assists. If you are looking for the ultimate challenge (at least as it relates to the AI) in F1 2015, there is no need to look any further than Pro Season. Make no mistake about it though, once you reach the hardest of difficulties the AI drivers are vicious, vindictive and extremely difficult to beat.
This mode, while pretty basic, offers up a lot of addictive fun and replay value. You start by hitting any of the official F1 tracks and racing against a default ghost to post your best lap time. As soon as you post an official lap time, it will be posted on the leaderboard and measured up against the rest of the world. While not the deepest mode ever offered, you will find yourself turning in multiple laps. And, if you’re like me, you will be wondering how in the heck everybody else ran such good times.
There is nothing fancy about F1 2015’s online options. You have the ability to choose between a basic preset event, creating a custom lobby, or even a custom season. Before you get too excited about creating a custom co-op season with your friends, understand that the mode does not save and allow you to pick up where you left off. So either you do the season all in one shot, or you will have to manually take down all the information. In addition, F1 offers up the standard slate of options in regards to difficulty, type of race, track location, full or short weekend, and additional AI drivers -- all of which are pretty common for a Codemasters title.
That being said, F1 2015 has been a bit rough online. Our time with the game online has been somewhat limited, but we've struggled to find sessions to join. In addition, once we have joined sessions, the game has still had some rough patches, including multiple sessions that just simply crashed. Overall, it has been a somewhat frustrating experience, and hopefully this will get ironed out soon because multiplayer is such an important component of most racing games.
F1 2015 is literally a case of style over substance. If you compare this version to some of the previous titles, it's easy to see how much is missing. So in that sense, it is hard to justify the price tag if you are an average racing fan. Those that do take plunge have an incredibly solid racing title on their hands. If the gameplay alone is enough to hold you over, then F1 2015 will be a great addition to your rotation.
The graphics are very well done, but somewhat inconsistent, and the overall sound of the game is terrific. The controls are superb, whether using a controller or wheel. The immersion factor is a bit less than what was promised, but F1 2015 does a good job of re-creating the spectacle that is an F1 championship weekend. In short, Codemasters was very honest and upfront about what F1 2015 was going to be at launch. Regardless, considering the game was also delayed, simply being honest does not justify the somewhat shallow overall experience.
Score – 7.0 (Good)