F1 2011 Preview – Can F1 2011 Take Pole Position?
Codemasters got the reaction they wanted with the release of last seasons F1 2010, pitstop bugs and some dodgy AI aside the title was easily one of if not the best Formula 1 title we’ve ever seen. This years title not only builds upon a solid foundation, but pushes it closer to where the core franchise needs to be headed.
The followup to the fastest selling Formula 1 game of all time is in the works, and Codemasters are quick to assure us that this is “not just a small update”. F1 2011 will not fall into the pit of it’s past iterations and it’s other sports cousins, there will be no “just stick a new year on it and update the visuals” on this game. F1 2011 is a full fledged sequel.
There’s two new race tracks, improved handling, oscillating bodywork, improved car damage, much revamped pit stops, 2011 rule additions (DRS and KERS are in), enhanced garage visuals, a brand-new press feedback system and a dynamic cloud system.
But all that is “back of the grid” stuff in Codemasters minds, the core mechanics are a proven success – the real trophy for this years F1 2011 title? Online mode. Chief game designer Stephen Hood is openly frank in telling us he doesn’t think last year’s game performed well in the network arena “at all”.
F1 2011 sees a new co-op Championship mode, team up with a buddy and you’ll experience all the fun that is Formula 1. Whilst on the surface this might seem like a great co-operative edition where teamwork is the proof in the pudding, but you couldn’t be farther from the truth. The rivalry between you and your team-mate is at the heart of this years F1 experience. Who out qualifies who? Who has the better lap times through the race? Who finishes first? And ultimately, who finishes the highest in the Formula 1 2011 Drivers Championship? Hopefully, in F1 2011 I’ll be answering every single one of those questions with an emphatic “Me”, but I seriously doubt that one.
Outside of “co-op” (and I use that term loosely) mode in this years title, competitive online racing sees 16 players going head-to-head around some of the most gloriously detailed tracks you’ve ever seen. The remaining 8 spots will be filled with AI drivers, making up a full grid of 24. This is slightly disappointing, and we’re hoping to see this upped to full 24 player online racing in next years title, just as FIFA 11 brought us full 11 vs 11 online play.
However the edition of a few new “toys” to play with around your laps will more than keep you entertained. As mentioned before, the rules from this season are in, and with them come the addition of DRS and that magical KERS button. With DRS, at certain points around a track you’ll be given notice that if you’re within 1 second of the car in front you’re allowed to activate the new Drag Reduction System – opening your rear wing on the straights gives you a boost of around 10 KPH. Whilst KERS gives players a boost of 80BHP for up to 6.6 seconds around the track to be used whenever, and where-ever you want (just try and use this on the infamous turn 8 in Istanbul) before “resetting” when you cross the start/finish line.
But this wouldn’t be Formula 1 if things didn’t break-down unexpectedly now would it? It’s one thing that Codemasters have really listened to it’s “hardcore” audience about, and F1 2011 see’s the introduction of mechanical breakdowns. Yes that’s right, for the first time, if you’re too hard on your breaks in Canada you may see them fail, if you’re too hard on your engine it may very well pack up, heck you might even lose transmission or miss a gear. As one of these “hardcore fans” I’ve got to say this is a tremendous implementation, but ask me that again when I’m on the final lap of a gruelling 74 lap race and my engine conks out.
Tyre degradation will also play a massive part in this years title. Much like they have in this season so far, the addition of Pirelli tyres have played havoc in some races – rewarding careful drivers and punishing those who drive with reckless abandon. Codemasters are working hard to ensure you see that “Fall off the cliff” real life aspect in F1 2011.
All this is packaged with the ability of F1 2011 being able to say “We’re the only fully licensed F1 Game”, meaning Codemasters will deliver the full driver lineup from this years grid, including full liveries (paint-work for you non F1 fanatics) of all this years cars.
Oh and one final thing. The die-hard F1 gamers have been asking for this for years, “the safety car”. It’s by no-means confirmed yet, but we’ve been told that Codemasters are hard at work to get this much requested feature into this years title.
We’ll have a full review of F1 2011 when it’s due to come onto the grid in September this year on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC, followed later by NGP and Nintendo 3DS.