The end of summer is here and it is time for the annual titles to rain on us from the gaming Gods. No different than many other popular yearly franchises, the official FIA Formula One World Championship flagship title, F1 2016 is now available and back with even more Formula One goodness. Chalk full of exciting tracks, a robust career mode, and the new Formation Lap / manual starts feature, F1 2016 promises to be the most complete F1 experience ever. Spoiler Alert ... F1 2016 delivers on that promise.
With an incredibly deep career mode that allows you to create your own racing legend, F1 2016 will force you into a career that can span up to ten wildly competitive season. From the initial driver customization to the developing of contracts to the crossing of teammates, F1 2016 has it all. When I reviewed F1 back in 2014 it was a bit of a struggle; I have long been a racing fan, albeit simulators like F1 or Gran Turismo, or through arcade-style racers like the wonderful Burnout franchise or Forza Horizon's open-world arcade-y racing, but F1 2014 ( http://www.chalgyr.com/2014/11/f1-2014-ps3-review.html ) just felt lackluster and the struggle of staying relevant with the new consoles while still maintaining your existing market-share did not play out well. As such F1 2014, while good, struggle to find visual fidelity and career depth, while staying exciting.
With F1 2015's next-gen only approach, graphical improvements were certainly there and one could easily see the benefits of the updated graphics and framerate due to the new game engine. Fortunately F1 2016 takes it a step even further as your Formula One racer is absolutely stunning to behold; there are plenty of shots of your racer that will be tricking your eyes into thinking that you are looking at the real thing. Measuring vehicles only, one could even make the claim that F1 2016 vehicle models and textures are on par with the gold-standard of Xbox racers, Forza Motorsports. Sure, Forza takes it a step beyond by meticulously reproducing (in stunning quality no less) the interiors of their models, but F1 2016 is no slouch either. This is a stunning looking game, and moving forward, I can only hope that Codemasters spends just as much time on the track models and textures as they do the skybox and models; if they do then it is a very real possibility that F1's future iterations could become a mainstay graphical bar that other racers are pitted against. Currently? That would only be the case if you are measuring the models and textures of the racers.
The various hospitality areas, which are where you access your career stats, upgrade and/or tune your racer, or set up formation laps (which are essentially warmup laps for those of you not in the know) and work on contracts. Contracts are fulfilled via wins and the more contracts you complete, the more sought after you become and the cooler you eventually are... leading to ultimately, a championship. The biggest downside to the hospitality center? Framerate drops, the character models (good heavens they are so plastic and fake looking), and overall lack of, well, any real personality. With the hospitality areas and F1 2016's focus on trying to increase pre-race tension often led to a quick chuckle and me just wanting to hurry up and get back out to the track, because oh man the races are fantastic. Character models are hideous and boy oh boy is that uncanny valley ever-present, however I am going to be real ... this is a racing simulator, and the focus is, rightly, on the giant engine with a seat and four tyres. And that framerate ... on the moderately powered Xbox One framerates in the hospitality center clearly suffering rather than the super smooth and snappy framerates seen in the races.
Once you have all of your tuning and upgrading done it is a matter of getting out onto the track and this is where F1 really shines. I still take personal issue with the fact that riding even slightly off the track and into the gravel/heather on either side brings you down to a near stop almost instantaneously, but beyond that, the racing is spot on. Incredibly reactive, which is not unlike the actual sport, each lap on the race is where the real tension takes place. A bump, a puddle, a simple over-calculation of your speed around a turn and it could spell disaster for you. While the focus of F1 drama tends to be on the start or the formation laps and manual starts, the REAL drama in game comes after the flag has dropped and you are ripping around the corners. Positioning and speed management are key; off on either one and you will spell disaster.
I love it.
F1 2016 is, to date, the best of the series. Building upon the new engine that was released in last year's annual iteration, and a focus on current generation technologies, Codemasters has for the most part, created a near-gold standard for racing graphics. A little more elbow grease and work on track textures, and future iterations of F1 could be right up next to Forza when comparing titles. A far more robust career system (even if the racer creation tool is a bit basic) and accurater representations of famous tracks the world over, tied up and wrapped in a racing simulator package that is challenging and true-to-form, sets F1 2016 near the front of the pack.
Article by Robert