Codemasters returns with their signature Formula One series in F1 2011. Formula fans, it's your lucky day.
It's been 4 years since I've buckled into the set of a Formula One car. Fondly remembering the Sony branded Formula One: Championship Edition. I was more than eager to get back into the intensity that only Formula One racing can bring. Sure, Forza is on its way around the corner, but even the massive racing arcade/sim Forza doesn't do it like Formula One. Now don't let that scare you because this is one you can enjoy even if you're not familiar with the sport of F1. The entire project is very welcoming and if you are like me, it is the type of game that could turn you into a fan.
F1 2011 comes at you with that typical racing gaming artfulness. Streamlined effects complete with melodic electronic beats. Ascetically pleasing your options are laid out for you. Enter the Career, Grand Prix, Multiplayer or the Proving Grounds for racing; with My F1 and VIP Pass being your in-game stats and an unlock pass needed for multiplayer.
Steering into the first option, the “Career” mode, you will be slapped into a first person view and asked numerous questions that will define your character. This includes your name, location, starting sponsor, and difficulty level. The Career mode does it's best to bring you into the life of a real race car driver, complete with press clippings, racer interviews after big races, a HUB like trailer (similar to Dirt 3.) There is a lot of data being calculated here, in-and-out of racing that makes the world of F1 racing interesting.
Being a simulation based racer, you will want to pay attention to the finer details. Everything you would ever need is accessible in-game from weather reports, in-depth track reports and more. Preparation is key, so don't be so hastily to skip these details to head straight for the track. One interesting twist to the "garage" section of F1 2011 is a R&D (Research and Development) concept where you can set the path for your team to work on. The options here are minor, standard, package and unique. For the in-game racing you can customize your vehicle with all the normal driving assists (braking, traction control and so on) along with more expected settings like camera, audio, driving controls and your OCD.
The racing in F1 2011 can be challenging, even on the lowest difficulty. However it is this difficulty and attention to detail that makes F1 2011 so rewarding. Patience is key. Learn the cars, get used to the tracks and after a half a dozen poor performances, I am sure things will start to pick up. Assists do a lot, so if you're on the other side... finding F1 2011 too easy, then turn them off and ramp up the difficulty. Beyond the difficulty level, Formula One racing is finicky on its regulations, so qualifying and track errors are all part of the game. Again, this is why F1 works. It's true to life.
The racing is very satisfying with a well deserved spotlight on the sense of speed within the cockpit. Capturing this sense of speed is the feeling of wind pushing against your car as you hit the triple digits. The wind is explicitly forceful, affecting your vehicles movement all with a loud burst of air blowing out of your speaker. F1 2011 does a great job with its weather system making it an abrasive part of the game.
The “Grand Prix” selection is a quick-race scenario where you pick your driver/team and hit the track. All the major players are here including Scuderia Ferrari, Mercedes GP F1, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, Scuderia Toro Rosso, Team Lotus and a more. This goes for the drivers too, their details and likeness captured for the game. The settings for each race is wholly up to you, so you can experience a single race or enjoy a short/long weekend. Laps, difficulty, weather and car safety continues the options for the complete package. While it is obvious that the “Career” mode is the main focus, it is fun to experiment with new cars and drivers on the various tracks (including the Canadian location in Montreal.)
Into the “Proving Grounds” you aim for bragging rights on the leaderboards with time trials and time attack modes. The time trails go through all the tracks and are playable with any team, so be prepared to replay these spots benchmarking with the various cars/teams to see which one suits your driving style the best. The Time Attack mode is based on scenarios and metal times to beat (silver, bronze, gold.) To give you an example the first scenario “Scenario 1” puts you in light rain, in Montreal looking to make the time of 1:21.653 (milliseconds matter in F1.) Thoughtfully, Ghost racers have been provided and a sector-by-sector breakdown of your performance have to added to help you along.
The level of detail is phenomenal in F1. It's the little details that matter and the those little details are what diligently helps recreate the sport. It's great to see so much life put into the world along side affects like the above mentioned wind and others like debris sticking to your tires. This is one of those racing wheel, get in your most comfortable chair and race for hour games and the sweet polish of the graphics (and sound) really push F1 into that upper echelon category.
Where F1 2011 cheats a little from its “sim” roots is the use of a replay reloading mechanic that allows you to rewind a few seconds of the race and start over. Of course this can be disabled. However, its inclusion alone might lead F1 2011 to be scoffed at by certain "purists," it is a good feature to included when a good portion of the audience will be new fans. I found no fault here and like this inclusion.
Formula One 2011 is an excellent racing game that respects and loves the sport. It's all about practice, precision and performance. All great components for a racing game. It's not going to for everyone, however I would still recommend trying F1 2011 because it's the type of game that can change your perspective. Formula One is what racing is all about and Codematers did an excellent job recreating the intensity and magic of the sport.
Similar Games: Formula One: Championship Edition (8.5)