With a plethora of racing titles to be released in the last half of the year, Formula 1 2016 from Codemasters is the first off the blocks. This new release from the Formula 1 franchise is being hyped as the most immersive title in the genre ever conceived. The career mode has been redesigned to execute a more detailed and in-depth experience, such as the addition of key paddock personalities. You’ll spot the big names like Toto Wolf, Christian Horner and Maurizio Arrivibene as they sit on the pitwall and walk around the paddock post-race. David Croft and Anthony Davidson from Sky F1 also make an appearance, commentating before and after each session. In addition, some very interesting and exciting features like the Safety car, formation lap, manual starts and full control over your tyre and fuel strategy over the race weekend have all been meticulously tweaked and coded to create a near-perfect racing sim.
Codemasters and their development team have really taken their time with this game (some would argue too long since we are at the half-way point in the real Formula 1 calendar), but unlike a lot of new release games these days, it’s not broken and runs flawlessly. My Logitech G29 wheel, which I used to test most of this game, did not need any settings changes, though for those picky wheel enthusiasts among us you can modify the wheels parameters to your heart’s content. If you don’t have a wheel (though I do highly recommend one) you can still have as much fun while keeping up with us wheel junkies. F1 2016 allows total customisation when it comes to the handling of the race cars on the track. With full assists and automatic everything, to the elite option where it’s just you and the road, where you have to avoid locking up the wheels by not braking too hard and control corner entry and exiting all while struggling with varying degrees of grip and keeping your engineer happy by managing your fuel loads and tyres. The choice is up to you and it makes for an exciting racing experience, no matter your level of expertise.
I finally made it to the top
The choice is up to you and it makes for an exciting racing experience, no matter your level of expertise.
The biggest (and might I say best) addition to this year’s Formula 1 title is the career mode. You have two options, Normal Career mode and Pro Career Mode. In Normal Career mode you can customise what format your race weekends take, such as practice and race session length, qualifying format, track penalties, damage and car assists. Most of these can be tweaked on the fly throughout the entire season, so if things start to get too easy or too hard, the option is there to change it to your liking. Next is the Pro Career mode, which is essentially the same thing but with full race length, no assists and incredibly fast AI opponents; this is for the hardcore racers out there. You must first create your driver’s avatar, name, and helmet and choose what F1 team you want to drive for. Each team will have a specific contractual objective of when they expect you to win the championship, so for newbies start low, as you get at least four seasons to hone your race craft. After that you’ll meet your agent and chief engineer and they will explain contracts and car upgrade options. This is where the fun begins and practice sessions actually have some point to them now, instead of spending 30 minutes continuously racing around and learning the track limits and apexes. It’s wise to use this time to find the perfect setup, as different modes can mean the difference between braking at the 100m marker instead of the 150m, allow faster lap times, let you fine tune under or oversteer, or just help you find your line around the track. You also have a few options to collect data on various parts and performance levels and a tyre management programme which records how much stress you are exerting on the tyres. There’s also a track learning mode which puts up a series of gates on the racing line, and as you drive through them it measures speed and timings (this can be later mapped to show which sectors of the track you need to focus on). Finally there’s a qualification pace mode, where you are equipped with the best tyres for the event (either the super softs or Ultras), low fuel load and maximum engine power, and it’s up to you to score the best possible time. When completed, you are awarded career points and upgrade tokens, which you can use to upgrade different aspects of the car such as downforce, fuel management, engine performance and so on. These will all be required if you want to be world champion.
The racing is so incredibly deep and rewarding in this title, and as such the victories feel like real achievements.
The race experience is fantastic too, with the addition of manual starts, it creates a tense atmosphere as you attempt to maintain optimal revs while keeping an eye on the race lights. If you stuff it up you will stall and lose numerous positions before you even hit turn one. If big accidents do happen, you will also see the safety car deployed, or for less severe incidents the virtual safety car. The AI will also retire properly too, either pulling off to a safe spot or you may even pass them as they limp their broken and sick racing car back to the pits. Additionally, this year you can have total control of the car in pit lane; this adds a little more complexity to the race as you must enter the pits on the speed limit, otherwise you will be penalised.
The racing is so incredibly deep and rewarding in this title, and as such the victories feel like real achievements. You’ll experience the highs and lows of this unforgiving and dynamic sport, and forge some truly memorable virtual Grand Prix moments. With fuel mixes, brake balance, tyre degradation, dynamic weather and DRS all having such integral effects on the outcome, it won’t be odd to find yourself changing settings at 300 km/h because you’re trying to overtake that one car or defend a podium position as you manage tyre wear; it really is the best F1 title available.
Check out the view!
If big accidents do happen, you will also see the safety car deployed, or for less severe incidents the virtual safety car.
F1 2016 does include a few other modes to keep you busy, such as the stock standard time trial option, where you pick a car, pick a track, change the weather or time of day and do your best lap. In best lap, your best times will be uploaded and you can see where you rank overall. Then there is the quick race option for those of you who just want to smash around the new Baku City circuit or just cause mayhem in Monaco. You can also play a Championship season as your favourite F1 driver but this mode is not as deep as the career mode. At the time of writing I was unable to test the online multiplayer so this review purely reflects the single player component.
Codemasters have taken due care with this new Formula 1 title and it shows. The list of added features is impressive, but the developers have still managed to deliver a fun and enjoyable experience and cater for skill levels of any scope. The racing is frantic and the physics and game sounds just add to that authentic feeling of being there on track. F1 nerds will totally go bonkers for this release as you are given complete control of almost every aspect of the game. At the same time, anyone who just wants to race can pick up a controller and set off without having to do anything but choose their difficulty. Lastly, the voices of David Croft and Anthony Davidson from the Sky F1 broadcasts just add that little bit more of authenticity and realism to an already stellar F1 game.
Reviewed on PS4