There are F1 die-hards that eat up the Codemasters yearly games like candy, mainly because they’re the best simulations around. But last year’s F1 2015 left a lot to be desired, not only because of some nag-worthy issues, but also because the game slammed the door on anyone trying to get involved for the first time. It was like a party made for the truly elite, with everyone else getting stopped at the door.
So does F1 2016 fare a little better? It does, mainly because the developers address a few of the issues that caused last year’s game to drag. That said, it’s still best recommended to those that have an understanding of how F1 works. That’s not to say it’s not accessible to newbies – this year’s version kinda is, so more people can, ahem, party – but it still has the kind of rule-set and refined settings that make it better appreciated by those who know and love what the league is about.
First off, the gameplay feels just about right for an F1-based racer, with a number of settings to toggle if you’re in the mood for a challenge or a bit of a cakewalk. That said, Ridge Racer this ain’t – if you go for drifts or try to approach this game with any kind of arcade-based mind-set, your ride will end more quickly than a guy trying to drive a car home on four flat tires. Even the slightest wreck will leave your car in the dirt, so you need to drive carefully and manage against some tough competition.
That said, the AI will certainly put you in your place. That can offset certain rookie drivers that aren’t ready for such a challenge, but vets will welcome this tweaked behavior with open arms, ready to master every turn that’s thrown at them in F1 2016. What’s more, you can decide to manage settings on your own, or let them be done automatically if you just want to get to the racing. Having both options is pretty neat, especially since each player’s approach may be different from the next.
But like previous games, patience is a virtue. You can enter Quick Race at any time and really get right into the action, but if you want to make progress and earn some XP points, you’ll need to jump into the other modes in the game, like Pro Career (best left for the F1 vets) and Championship Season mode. There’s also Time Trial, in case you want to refine your runs; as well as multiplayer, though you should be warned that some of these players seriously know their business. We got left in the dust multiple times before we learned from that mistake.
At least the presentation is pretty sweet, nailing the accuracy of the sport. The tracks look superb and run at a fresh pace, and the cars look dazzling, even if they break apart easier than most vehicles in other racing games. The weather effects are also really something, especially when you have rain pouring down on the track – that adds a new dynamic challenge to your race so you don’t go roaring off the track. Plus, the commentary is really good, and the roaring engine noises are good stuff.
I still can’t help but think that F1 2016 doesn’t feel accessible to all skill sets, especially when it comes to its multiplayer (it’d be nice to have some rookie league settings) and challenging Pro Career. But at least some options don’t make it as straining as previous games in the series, and the settings help a bit.
That said, this year’s game is a notable improvement, and recommended to fans that don’t mind taking a spin with fragile yet sleek vehicles. It’s not everyone’s speed, but devotees will feel like it’s a welcome return to form.