Its that time of year again to warm your tyres up and get ready for some fast-paced racing action. Codemasters bring us their newest release F1 2011, a game that worms all the bad bits and bugs out of their previous success F1 2010. Codemasters have already jokingly said that last year’s F1 game was their prototype, and you know what, I think they were right. I was really excited about F1 2011 and I have good reason to be. As a fan of the motorsport, I love nothing more than to race around virtual representations of real life tracks in fast cars and I have not been let down by this new release which is truly a masterpiece and obviouslytook a lot of work on Codemasters behalf. Far too often are we given annual releases of sports titles where all that really feels different are the team and rule changes, but here we have so much more.
When you first load up the game and select a new Championship to take part in, you have all the stuff from the last title. You need to enter your name, choose a helmet and nickname and tell the press how you are going to tackle this season. Are you going to be aggressive or hold back and play it cool, although this doesn’t seem to have much of an effect to the game play really. The way F1 2011 feels and looks almost identical to the last game may mean that first impressions leave you a little bit weary, making you wonder if you may have just paid for a bog standard update. However, once you get yourself strapped into that seat and helmeted up, you are immediately satisfied that F1 2011 makes a substantial visual up grade over its predecessor.
The detail in F1 2011 really has been moved up a notch. The tracks look amazing, all the signage is in the correct places, the pit lanes are bustling with people and cars being fixed up, hell, there are even birds flying around in the sky. The detail of the actual cars is also mind blowing. You can now see the reflections on your car from the passing scenery in much ore detail than before, but it’s not until the rain starts to fall that your jaw will drop. The rain spatters off the bonnet as you race along, it gets in your face and you cant see, you desperately look for the corners and the flashing red warning light on the backs of other competitors cars. There are really no words I can say for how great this game looks. You really need to try it for yourself. In the wet, you can even see the racing line get clearer and clearer as the race goes on. Now I don’t have an amazingly fast PC, I only have a duel core system and its a laptop, but I still get no lag at all. I don’t now how Codemasters have managed it, but they have brought the graphics in an F1 game to a new level.
The sound effects in F1 2011 are awesome, you hear the roar of your engine and the noise of other cars bashing into you and passing you. You get the full racing effect, and this really helps recreate the whole ambiance of the sport. F1 2011 gives you a great representation of real life racing, and is Codemastershave definately made the title as a simulator not an arcade game. The tracks have all been updated for this season, and, yes, you have the new Silverstone track here to enjoy.
For the controls you have a few options, you can use the keyboard (very hard and not recommended), a controller (I recommend an Xbox 360 pad for this option), or a steering wheel (my choice of controller). I tried all the three different methods and although a controller is great, if you are looking for a true simulation and are someone that has all the rules turned on and full realism settings, you need a steering wheel for the full effect. It adds so much to the experience. As you drive around, you really do feel the changes from the last game. Your car is much more responsive, you feel the track a lot better, and if you loose a wing on your fancy F1 car, you notice the handling is much worse.
Everything about F1 2011 feels better, you have to make good strategic use of the new KERS and DRS systems to win races. Although, don’t use them on a sharp corner, though or you will have an accident. Something i found out the hard way. As you race around, you feel the changes in the level of grip you have as your tyres start to warm up, and in the wet, you feel like you are ice skating until the tyres bed in and the racing line starts to appear on the track. Once again, you also have the option to change the car settings, and this is made easier to understand in F1 2011, as the game explains all the setting individually and what effects they have, which is a nice touch. There is even an easy mode that turns the game into a arcade racers for all those casual gamers out there.
F1 2011 does have a few bugs that drive you slightly mad, like being told of for cutting a corner when you really haven’t, or causing a crash that you feel was someone else’s fault, but these are rare and really don’t damage your enjoyment in any way.
The multiplayer in F1 2011 is really great, not only can you race against people in up-to 16 player races, you can now also team up with a friend and race a complete championship with them as your team-mate. This whole experience is really fun, as you start to egg your team-mate on to get fast times in qualifying and good podium finishes. Its all about team play here, however, like the last game, you can have the difficulty setting on easy or full rules for the pure simulation. I am currently doing a championship with a friend and we are on full rules, it is hard and frustrating, but so satisfying after a hard race. You can watch the timings and the cars speeding around the track map of when in the pits during practice and qualifying. On the map, it would have been nice to have a different colour marker for your teammate, but I’m sure this is something that will come next year or in a patch.
So the question is, do you run out and upgrade to F1 2011? My answer would be, Yes. Codemasters have taken all the feedback from the last game and improved this title so much it feels like a completely new game. They have done so well and deserve all the good press they get. This is a game that suits all kinds of people, from the hardcore F1 fans to the casual gamers. There is so much more to this game than I can tell you about here, you’ll need to play the game to find out. Now, where is my helmet? I have a race to win!!
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