F1 2011 Review
Racing games have always been hit or miss with me. I'm not a fan of the repetitive left turning Nascar events, but I can appreciate a well made simulator like Gran Tourismo. And while I'm not entirely convinced that F1 is a solid racing simulation, it definitely has a lot of the right parts. Let's take a look at this year's offering from Codemasters to see if it's worth the upgrade.
Probably among the most noticeable changes in this year's game is the introduction of the KERS and DRS systems applicable to different race teams. KERS is somewhat like a short power boost that can push you ahead of the pack when needed, but can only be activated once per lap. DRS takes the form of a rear wing on the car that can be opened and closed to allow for higher top speeds throughout the race, but can introduce higher steering difficulty around turns. The elaborate weather system and its influence on handling and other track dynamics makes a comeback and requires just as much effort as before to properly navigate through it.
I felt like F1 had a lot of potential in the visual department that never really came to light. It could be that during a race everything was blowing by so quickly that I just wasn't able to appreciate it, but it felt like the only time I got a really beautiful visual experience was during the replay mode. The one exception to this is the game's weather system which, much like its effect on the actual controls, can also introduce some realistic looking water splashes and lighting effects. For as much emphasis as the game puts on working your way through an F1 season while dealing with human characters everywhere from the press to your pit crew, I was a little disappointed at how much detail went into these models.
If you've ever watched Formula 1 on television or had the luck of actually being in the presence of these insanely fine-tuned machines, you know that they carry a very distinct set of sounds. F1 2011 continues to deliver the goods in this area, providing a collection of audio assets from the track. The engineer they programmed to spout out information in your headset during a race didn't strike me as repetitive or annoying either.
While F1 2011 shines in many areas, it is not without its faults. The choppy video in certain areas and random 1/2 to 1 second freezes in the middle of a race are distracting at best, while many players have also discovered that the menu system can be unforgiving about saving progress correctly if you don't follow a specific set of steps in between practice, qualifying, and racing rounds. Still though, the multi-player bump to 16 drivers as well as the reworked experience system that rewards good driving (something often not found against online opponents) makes for a better experience. F1's ability to customize how much time you want to spend on the game should be noted as well, with the more hardcore driver easily spending 100's of hours working on full length races, while the more casual racer could easily knock out a season or two in a fraction of that time.
Final Rating: 80%. Codemasters returns to the Formula 1 market with some updates and improvements to keep you on track.