The latest generation of consoles have been out for almost an entire year but Codemasters are making F1 fans wait until F1 2015 before a significant upgrade to their F1 game. This year F1 fans have to stick with the previous generation. We grabbed our helmets and headed out to the track to see how the game stacks up against last year’s instalment.
Being a simulation game the key aim of the developers has to be to recreate the sport. Over the past few years Codemasters have been tweaking and improving the series. They are actually so good at racing games that the core experience hasn’t changed all that much.
As you’d expect the game reflects all the new cars, drivers and rule changes seen in the sport. These changes are the biggest attraction for fans of the sport. Two new tracks have also been added – Australia’s Spielberg circuit and the Sochi Autodrom in Russia.
Apart from the changes to the F1 season the focus this year appears to be on making the game more accessible for newcomers and players that struggle with the punishing difficulty of an F1 race. Players can take part in a single lap of Monza where their performance is evaluated. The game can then suggest the difficulty level that best suits you.
New players will likely want to begin on the very easy setting to get to grips with the handling and various circuits on offer. As you become more confident you can climb the difficulty ranks or go for a custom mix of driving aids. There’s a whole host of assists each with different levels of support. Features such as automatic gears, driving lines and auto braking are all there to help you. The game is at its best though when you become confident enough to turn these off.
On the hardest difficulty the game really gives you a taste of F1. Success comes from dedication with plenty of practice and patience required. Every single mistake punishes you from clipping curbs to cutting corners to veering slightly off the optimal racing line. Mistakes lose you valuable time and force you to work even harder. On the shorter lap races a single error can ruin your whole race. Thankfully there is also a limited-use rewind facility to allow you to overcome mistakes.
A variety of modes are provided to suit different players. Time trials are great for learning tracks and shaving tiny amounts off your personal bests. You can also race a single Grand Prix or full season. Some players will be glad at the option to race a limited number of laps but others will relish the challenge of full-length races. A nice feature is the option to pause and save at any time allowing those with limited time the chance to experience the longest races.
Proving Grounds returns with a variety of scenarios to overcome. These start simple and gradually get more difficult but can be some of the most entertaining parts of the game. Last year’s excellent classic mode is sadly absent which is a real shame.
Once you feel comfortable with the racing it’s time to test your skills against real players. This can be done locally in two-player split-screen or taken online in 16-player races with the AI filling in the rest of the grid. Online racing works well and is incredibly fun against players who take the game seriously.
Graphically the game looks as good as ever with a staggering attention to detail. The cars and tracks are the stars of the show alongside some wonderful weather effects. It’s clear that Codemasters have put a lot of effort into recreating the TV experience of watching F1.
F1 2014 is another fantastic simulation of the sport that will please F1 fans. Newcomers should find an easier time this year but players who picked up the game last year should be prepared for a lot more of the same. Players hoping for more may be best waiting for the next-gen leap in F1 2015.