Mention Formula One racing to a non-fan, and it’s likely they’ll be able to name at least some of the more popular driving teams like McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull.
Not only are these names regulars in the racing scene, but they are also synonymous with speed, acceleration, and burning rubber. So when it comes to developing a video game that needs to encompass all of that while still being exciting, developers Codemasters Birmingham does a fantastic job with F1 2015.
For the most part the game manages to successfully transfer the sense of speed and adrenaline you’d expect from driving one of these supercars straight to your sweaty palms as you sit on a couch. With that said, hard-core racing fanatics might find the title has a few niggles, but these want bother newbies who just want to pedal-to-the-medal and take pole position.
At first glance, the most striking aspect is the visuals. While they’re not in the same class as the swoon-worthy graphics in the Forza franchise, they look pretty realistic. The stickers and details on the different car liveries and drivers’ helmets are clearly visible, and you can even count the individual tread lines on the tread on the tyres.
On the flip side, there are a number of instances where the visuals just didn’t seem up to scratch. As as example, the gravel next to the side of the road looks generic, and the grass can seem copy-pasted from previous titles on the odd occasion.
For the most part, it has all the bells and whistles of Formula 1, with (somewhat) realistic looking drivers, authentic cars and teams, right through to the pit stops and tyre changes.
But taking part in a race around a track isn’t a quick affair – it can take up to three hours to complete. Luckily here the game provides you with the option to fine-tune most of the settings to your liking.
Based on your choice of race length (which can vary between a full race, half the amount of laps, or a quarter of the laps), the game will simulate the racing conditions to include things like increased tyre wear and engine damage.
Tyre-wear might seem like a trivial thing to include, but it forms a huge part of your driving strategy. Select the wrong tyres for a race’s weather condition, and you won’t be able to stay with the pack.
So F1 2015 gets the basic right, but that is pretty much there is to it. It’s a track-racing game that emulates some of the important aspects from the sport. It gets the cars right, it is spot on with the drivers and their likeness, and it has all the tracks that one would expect. If you think about it, is that really all that you need?
So how do the cars drive? Well, without being sarcastic and saying “with a steering wheel”, the driving mechanics are pretty good. Some actions at certain points don’t feel right – braking feels a little unwieldy at some points for example – but for the most part it is pretty smooth.
No matter the weather conditions (and the game can turn a sunny days into a soggy mess in no time), it will have you fighting for every turn, pass and chicane. In wet weather the game maybe punishes drivers on lower difficulties a bit too much. The game is absolutely unforgiving in wet situations and unless you have honed your skills, you will have an immense challenge ahead of you.
You will have to have immaculate throttle and steering control just to keep your car on the tarmac (unless you have all the assists turned on). Even on some of the straights, if you don’t control the throttle right, you’ll start aquaplaning and veer off the road.
Is it a win?
So is F1 2015 worth a shout? Well, that depends on what you are looking for.
Codemasters cab bring racing games to life in the most amazing ways – just take the first DiRT game as an example – but this title just hasn’t got the creativity and ingenuity required to make it a title that will have your tyres stuck to the tarmac for weeks, or even months.
One thing that has been missing from the series is co-op racing, which would allow you to take part in a little local friendly competition. It might add a bit of longevity to a title that is in desperate need of it.
Something that also needs to be developed better are the crash physics. Bits of debris go flying when two cars collide, but collisions are nowhere near as spectacular as in real life. Naturally the damage can be set to full, cosmetic, or turned off completely.
If you are the occasional Formula One enthusiast that is looking for a quick game to emulate some of the most heated races in history, then F1 2015 will be perfect for you. If you are looking for a game that will give you the same experience as Forza Motorsport but with track racing, then you better look elsewhere.