While I love racing games to bits, I’m not a huge fan of the overly-realistic ones. They tend to be really sterile, stodgy and overloaded with options and micro-management of car parts – and the act of racing alone always seems harder than it would ever be to drive a real vehicle. I find it leeches the fun out of the experience – but I know that some hardcore racing fans out there really enjoy it.
If you fall into this category, then F1 2011 from Codemasters might be just for you. I don’t know anything about the sport in real life, either, so you’ll have to bear with me. The game includes 12 teams, 24 drivers and 19 tracks which I assume are all based on real-world counterparts. Like any good racing game, F1 2011 gives players the option to create a racer and enter a lengthy career mode against the big boys. The way that this is set up is pretty cool. Players are approached as the “brand new driver” by a news reporter. This is where you input your name and select your difficulty setting by answering a few questions. After this, you’re shown to your office where you can access everything from league races to training to weather reports and even accept outside contracts that you can undertake if your performance catches the attention of other teams. There are plenty of championships to win here and F1 fans will be kept busy for ages.
If you’re in the mood for a bit more immediate action, you can take in a quick Grand Prix or prove your skills in the time trial mode and then upload your best laps to the worldwide leaderboard for a slice of humble pie. You can also go head-to-head with your friends in either split-screen versus or, thankfully, a LAN option (yes, even on the consoles versions). If you want to play against opponents online, however, you either need to redeem your first-hand-purchase VIP pass to activate the online mode, or you can buy a new pass online – which seems to be an increasingly popular way for developers to generate first-hand sales in a market where trade-in games can be bought for half-price or lower less than a week after release.
If you’re experienced in realistic racing games, then the driving physics of F1 2011 should come much more easily to you than they did to me. There are several difficutly settings to suit all tastes, from the easy modes that handle car tweaking and various driving actions for you, all the way to the expert mode, which lets you handle every aspect of the driving by yourself, right down to what kind of tires you equip and the adjustment of your rear wing – whatever that does.
All in all, while F1 2011 is a great and comprehensive game, I think it was made exclusively for hardcore racing game players or Formula One fans.