To be honest I’m not a F1 fan. The sport seems so controlled and boring that I lost interest in watching years ago. But watching is different from doing, and the thrill of racing a fragile car at insane speeds, even if only in a simulator on the Xbox, will always call out to me.
Of course the first thing I did was a quick race, just to get a feel for the game, with all the sane settings on. And the first thing I noticed was how shit some of the graphics looked. Compared to Foerza, F1 2016 looks terribly last gen in places. But once you get out on the track, things improve and you soon get lost in the act of racing.
But no one wants to be doing single races for the rest of their life, career mode is where you wanna be. Holy shit, it’s a steep learning curve. This is where the simulation part of F1 kicks in with a capital S. You can’t change the settings so everything is as real as you can get on a console game. Even if you don’t bother tweaking things or making tire choices based on the circuit your are racing at, you’ve got a hell of a lot of learning ahead of you.
You start every race with practice sessions and qualification. These you start in the pits and you are auto driven down pit lane, so naturally you’ll have you finger pressed on the accelerator so that when you take control you just zoom out onto the track, right? Wrong. Hold the accelerator down on exiting pit lane puts you straight into the barrier and out of the practice session.
These beastly F1 cars have a monster under the hood, and the monster will take a while to tame. Especially if you’re not a seasoned F1 gamer. After much practice I can usually make it round one lap without incident, and if I had the time and dedication I could start being a competitive driver. Though no matter how much practice I do, I’ll feel like I’m on a knife edge. That’s the curse of having such powerful cars; just the smallest amount of wrong goes bad faster than you can normally correct it. And the game is not very forgiving in career mode.
So in the interest of a well rounded review and for my own sanity I left my racing career on hold and took F1 online for some competitive yet manageable fun. Back in the world of having your own settings and an easily controllable car, F1 2016 becomes much more of a pick up and play, fun racer. Of course you still have those dicks that never seem to get that you need to brake at corners, but it’s easy to get into your groove and start enjoying the challenge of trying to beat real opponents.
F1 2016 is a simulator to the core. It’s beating heart pumps pure simulation through it’s core being, and that’s what Codemasters have focused on. The handling of the car, the settings and the tracks, the rules and regulations. This is why the cut scenes don’t look so nice and unfortunately have a jarring nature that rips you back to the reality that you’re just playing a game.
Codemasters however are sensible enough to know that simulators don’t sell quite as good as pick up and play fun racers, so the tacking on of those other modes and especially online play makes sense from a business point of view. But does it make sense from a purchasing point of view?
Yes and no. If you’re an F1 fan who wants the challenge of mastering the art of F1 driving, this is the game for you. If you want a new online racer, with new tracks and a different feel from most other racers, then this could also be the game for you. However, if you just want a fun and easy single player racer, you probably should look elsewhere.