I’ve a somewhat on-again-off-again relationship with Racing games, and perhaps more relevantly, Formula 1 games. I don’t have any real love for the real-world sport that see’s cars that share more in common with the Space Shuttle than they do my beaten up Corsa drive around the track at blistering speeds, but I do find the video games fascinating on multiple levels.
F1 2016 is my 4th entry into the almost decade old Codemaster franchise that brought Formula 1 back to video games with a bang in 2010. As with most of Codemasters games, it’s a superbly realistic simulation of a sport that asks almost as much from its players as it does from the drivers.
That is to say that, F1 2016 is a sim, and if you want to get the most out of it, you need to throw yourself into it. It’s not an arcade racer in the slightest, but if you allow yourself to let the game challenge you, if you remove as many driver assists as you’re comfortable with, notch the computer AI up to a challenging level and turn off rewind’s and restarts, you’ll find the game is both fair and utterly punishing; but it’s that same combination of punishment and fairness that makes achieving a team target, or securing a rare point in the standings so utterly satisfying.
Career Mode and Embracing Defeat
As I’ve already mentioned, if you really want to get the most out of the game, you’ll want to turn off as many driver assists as possible. I’m driving with everything but traction control and the racing line turned off. Computer AI is set to expert and I’m driving for the 2nd worst team on the grid. My car simply can’t compete with the other teams, and I’m not a good enough driver to beat them with my brain. That being said, if you drive a good weekend (I’m also doing half weekends – Practise/Full Qualifying/50% Race), and maybe get a little luck you can have some of the most satisfying experiences that I’ve ever had in video games. Also this.
It’s not all perfect however, as fun as Career mode is, I can’t help but feel that the car upgrade system is a little too weighted in favour of the player. I took my Manor team from last in the grid, to the 4th best team through the course of one season, and whilst it made me a more successful driver, it did somewhat take the gleam off my ‘ultra realistic’ play through.
I’d also love to see them go down the 2k Sports route and offer a slightly more unique career mode. Racing should and will always be the mainstay of these games, but Career mode feels a little too limited in scope. I’d love to see them offer more media interaction, maybe increase the off-track events that happen between races and just generally make it feel a little more like a story than it does as of right now.
So there we have it, a very brief look at a game that’s got its claws into me in a big way. F1 2016 isn’t perfect, but if you are willing to let the game punish your mistakes and potentially throw away hours of your life on first corner retirements (4 times in the first season – damn my over-eagerness) the end results are definitely worth it.