F1 2015 – More of the same?

0
F1 2015 - More of the same? 5

INTRODUCTION:

The F1 game series is a racing franchise that for many years has been up there with Gran Turismo, Need for Speed, etc, and I’ll be quite honest, I’ve not kept up with the yearly releases up until the last two years or so. Needless to say I enjoyed the last few, despite the fact that any changes between releases are so minuscule that they are barely noticeable. Codemasters have had the licence to F1 since 2008. This is their eighth installment, and their first on the latest gen consoles. This year’s instalment of the F1 franchise is one where the graphics should really be upped big time for the new consoles, so with it I thought “YES, THERE MUST BE CHANGES”. I honestly thought it would look and feel far more realistic, and while it does look realistic, it just falls short of FEELING realistic…

GAMEPLAY

System Specs:

Case – BitFenix Shinobi XL
Motherboard – MSI Z87-MPOWER MAX                                                                           CPU – Intel i7 4770K
RAM – Kingston Beast Series 16GB 2133mhz DDR3
GPU – OcUK GeForce GTX 970 4096MB GDDR5
PSU – Corsair TX850 850W
CPU Cooler – Corsair Hydro Series H100i All-In-One
SSD – OCZ Vertex 4 256GB
HDD – Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB Internal

This is my first experience with a Formula 1 game on the PC so going in I was expecting a great experience with exciting races with great racers and animations before and after a win or loss. While the racing was… alright, I didn’t get any good animations, pretty much at all. For a win you get the one same “win” animation on the podium, if you lose you get the same “lose” animation again. If you don’t finish the race, well, you guessed it. Now not to say the game is complete trash; I had a good time racing, trying my best to win each race and even lap racers that aren’t doing well.

When it comes to racing games, I’m more of a go-as-fast-as-possible kind of guy, even on the corners, but I suppose I’m not much of a patient racer. The good thing about this game is that it doesn’t feel like I’m doing too much wrong when trying to hit the corners fast as I can because of the helpful colored turning line that will appear just before the corner. If you keep it in-between green and yellow, you should make the corner just fine, if it gets near red though, you better brake fast, otherwise you’ll find yourself off the road. This handy feature can be disabled as well for more skilled players, or if you just like to immerse yourself in the game.

2015-07-12_00008

Going into this game I decided I wanted to play it with my Xbox 360 controller, mainly because I’ve had bad experiences using keyboard and mouse with racing games before. The keyboard controls are laughable anyway. The default preset involves using C and V to turn, and comma and full stop to accelerate and brake. There is no WASD preset, despite that being the first choice most keyboard users would go to. It is possible to manually bind each key to your preference, but it just becomes apparent that F1 2015 was designed to be played with a gamepad or a wheel. Any other method of control just won’t offer the same experience.

If you do plug in a gamepad, you’ll find that the controls are extremely smooth, allowing you to accelerate, brake and turn with great precision. Nothing feels awkward to use at all, which always helps when you need to slow down quickly to turn a sharp corner or if you somehow crash (I managed that a few times) and then you’re forced to try straighten yourself out quick to get back into the race. So despite the shameful keyboard controls, F1 2015 more than makes up for it with its smooth gamepad handling.

ss_120690db845d5b3ed273c9a93adae6164e8c7455

There is an awesome feature in the game which allows you to set up your vehicle before the race. This allows you to decide on which tyres you want and things like that. Choosing the correct tyre for the race depending on the surface is important and can either mean you have a great race or have a god-awful race and end up coming way down the pecking order for the actual race—or if you’re in the actual race then you could find yourself losing altogether.

Each circuit has been designed very well, but this is mainly because the circuits haven’t really changed much over the years, except for maybe a bit of work here and there. You can actually play F1 2014 or F1 2015 before you reach the main menu, which is great, but if you already own F1 2014 it can feel a little cheap. That was something that really got on my nerves, if I’m honest! You’re effectively paying for a game you might already half-own. And since F1 2014 is down to just half the price of F1 2015 on Steam, it only makes you question the value of the F1 2015. That’s not something you should be thinking when buying this game.

Fortunately F1 2015 isn’t bereft of features. You do have a choice in the main menu between a Championship Season, Pro Season, Quick Race, Multiplayer and Time Trial, each providing plenty of challenge and entertainment. The Quick Race is also really good to start off with to get into the feel of the game. I started with that in order to familiarise myself with the controls and the handling of the vehicle, and I’d recommend giving a few of them a try when you first play.

2015-07-13_00001

Multiplayer is always a great piece to add to a racing game so that you can race against friends and random users on the internet. However… I tried for quite a bit to get a game on multiplayer and maybe it’s just on Steam, but I couldn’t for the bloody life of me get a single race! It’s almost like either Codemasters or the Steam community itself has decided to abandon the game. This was a real disappointment because I think there’s only so much fun to be had racing against AI. At least they’ve improved on last year’s AI. They’re less likely to try and ram you off the road now, as if F1 were anything like Mario Kart. Now they’re a lot more realistic and scale much better with difficulty.

There is no DLC with this game as it’s a yearly release, and thank goodness this isn’t a franchise that tries to push DLC in spite of this fact *coughcoughCALLOFDUTYcoughcough*. Many users have had issues with this year’s iteration of F1, however, which you can see in detail on the Steam page of the game. I ran into a few of these problems myself. For example, the game crashed to desktop a couple times while I was in the middle of a race which meant I lost the progress in the race, and I was on lap 13/15 dammit! Also the game liked to keep resetting to windowed mode each time I alt-tabbed out.

ss_4e8a57b7e07ad588aa95abaf36985b684f18b63b

AUDIO AND GRAPHICS

The audio is a real strong point of this game and it’s actually super helpful, unlike in other racing games which just has the useless—albeit awesome—noise of the engines. The engines in this game really do sound top-of-the-line and genuine to the real life thing, right down to the sound of braking hard to make that sharp right turn.

You can also listen to your team talking to you through the team radio, letting you know about the tyres, brakes and fuel. This is actually enormously helpful as you will know when you need to make a stop and get a replacement, fix or top up on a particularly lengthy race. If you grab this game on a console, it’s actually possible to talk to your team and ask for an update on your vehicle or how you’re doing in the race by using your microphone, but sadly this feature isn’t included in the PC version. It’s still possible to select to receive an update on how you’re doing using the gamepad, but the fact that this feature has been severely stunted in the PC port is disappointing to say the least.

Graphically, the game looks amazing and far more realistic than I personally thought it would, and I’m pumped to play more racing games because of how great it looks. Even seeing the character design impressed me because they put quite a lot of detail into the racers, even though you’re only going to see them for around a minute or less each race, and sometimes they still have a helmet on so even less detail would be needed there again. If only they put in more than one animation for each scenario. Repeating the same animation over and over was a bit boring and brought the game down a tad. I will add that I had this game pumped up to maximum settings, which is why it looked so good on my PC, the experience for others may change depending on how high or low you decide to have your settings at.

2015-08-12_00006

CONCLUSION

If you’re looking for the best racing experience out there, I would recommend you keep on looking because honestly, this game isn’t the game that’s going to change the franchise. This game is decent, does what it does well, and not much else. The game hasn’t changed much at all from last year. Sure there are a few tweaks, but not quite enough for a justification on the price. If you don’t want to pay full price for a great F1 experience F1 2014 is half the price at the moment and plays quite similarly to this year’s, with a few additions missing. If you already have the game however, and you still believe you NEED to play this year’s game, then it’s probably best to just wait for either a price drop or for it to go on sale in one of the Steam sales.

It’s one of the pitfalls of yearly releases, but F1 2015 just doesn’t bring anything revolutionary to the table.

  • Audio
  • Controls
  • Design
  • Graphics
  • Value

Summary

- If you want the best-looking Formula 1 experience to date, this is definitely a game worth checking out.

- F1 2015 is pretty much F1 2014 with graphical tweaks. Not much has been added from last year's Formula 1 at all.

- A gamepad or wheel is required for a good gaming experience. Make sure you have one before buying.

3.3

Page Navigation