F1 2016 (PS4 Review)
The F1 summer break is almost over and F1 2016 is powering its way also back in your hands with Codemasters’ latest instalment. Having been an F1 fan since near birth, and an avid gamer since gaining intelligence, it is safe to say this isn’t my first time on the tracks when it comes to F1 games but some didn’t quite hit the mark. So, F1 2016 was an exciting prospect to this F1 game cynic.
F1 2016’s Career modes are split in to two different approaches. The first being Normal Career mode where you can set the length of the race weekend you participate in. And Pro Career, which is for the dedicated racing gamer in your family, only allowing you to take part in a full race weekend including 100% race distance. The courtesy Time Trial mode is there too, allowing you to post your fastest times against the rest of the world – imagine the bragging rights! Multiplayer mode, which allows you again to face off against the rest of the world. However, this time in a race format grouped by differing race distances of 3 laps, 5 laps, or 25% race distance. Finally there is championship season. This is a multiplayer season played out against 21 other online players.
If all that wasn’t enough to pique your interest, the other added features for the game are manual starts, team practice programmes, and manual pit entries. The manual starts are a welcome addition and have caused me much pain during my playthroughs. It isn’t overtly obvious, with the wording provided, that you are holding the clutch as it continues to say hold the clutch when you are holding the clutch. At least when you are going for the optimum revs there is audible feedback from the engine screaming at you, begging you to let go so that it can prove itself against the other cars. The team practice programmes have only a few benefits to you as you play. Other than providing you with the much loved points that you accumulate for the global table, you are able to get a feel of the track and learn how aggressive you are on the tyres, and also do a few qualifying tests (this is great for tracks like Monaco which is my personal bane – and likely most others – of the F1 calendar).
Career mode is where you’ll be able to spend 10 wonderful seasons behind the wheel of the ultimate formula in open wheel racing. You’ll be able to improve the car’s stats by getting performance upgrades through the R&D team. Career is where you will be able to battle your numerous big named rivals and show that you are not only number one on the track and in the team, but in the tabloids as well. Where you can get to grips with your teams practice testing – which also has the much desirable effect of improving your track knowledge and car understanding. You’ll start off your career choosing which team you’d like to drive for. To test my abilities I chose to race for Manor on Medium AI difficulty. This, along with the other Assist settings, give you your Career difficulty bonus (mine was +7%). This will increase the points you get for completing a race weekend, other factors include how many days Practice you participate in, how well you do against your rivals and teammate, having a clean race (no penalties awarded).
F1 2016 takes away some of the more technical aspects that plagued previous games, such as tyre temperature management, having to operate each of the PIT team manually (shoulder controls on the PS3). However, it does have some technical aspects. Such as Radio responses. Your PIT wall crew will be in touch every now and again with some hopefully helpful advice. An example of my much loved PIT wall crew’s advice is changing to intermediate tyres when the rain is clearing. This is to get better track times as well as Intermediate tyres also responding better in the drying conditions, this means less aquaplaning out of corners and less understeer into them. To respond to the changes you can hit the designated trigger (L1 on PS4) and navigate to whichever one you desire and select it (right on the PS4 d-pad). You’ll even be able to get an achievement for doing this round a corner – mind you don’t go off though.
One of my favourite gimmicks of the game is the team radio coming through the PS4 controller. This nicely added touch and decent bit of immersion is only spoiled by the audio quality of the message. Maybe that was the intended outcome but it doesn’t gel so well when the visual spectacle in front of you is verging on breathtaking.
F1 2016 truly is a visual spectacle, and while the racing and tracks themselves do look fantastic, the character models for the Racers and their Teams deduct massively from the overall look. Each of the drivers appears have gone 10 rounds with Mike Tyson, with dark shadows under their eyes and generic features, leaving them barely recognisable during the pre-race montages. The celebrating team chief after a race win is more recognisable. I could clearly make out Toto Wolff as Hamilton pipped me to the post.
What would Formula 1 be without the sound? Well the 2014 season surely? Joking aside this game will excite your sense of sound as well as sight. The noise coming off grid as the lights go green gave me chills, visible goosebumps raced along my arms in the first race at Australia. As I have mentioned before the team radio also makes a nice introduction through your controller on PS4.
In terms of realism the cars noticeably react differently when you go off the racing line. They also become understeer hungry demons in the rain, and the grass/sand you pick up from going off track also affects the handling of the car until the tyres are cleared of it all. The engine may also lose total power and you will trundle across the line, which happened in the Austrian GP for me. Loss of front wing and tyre damage can also occur during races. The severity of which can be down to how much damage you want simulated.
F1 2016 is fantastic and is the provisional pole sitter of the series. One for every F1 fan and a definite must have for the racer in your life. Being able to battle against 21 other real life opponents, not just in a single race but in a full season, is a whole different formula for the F1 series. It’s an experience we have been yearning for over the past few years and welcome changes add depth with reducing the entry level.