Through the play of several Moto GP games and other racing sims, I’ve become quite accustomed to hardcore racing sims but Formula One is one that I’ve rarely played. I dive in to see what I’ve been missing and if it’ll impress me with my growing experience with the genre.
Sadly, I’m not very impressed with it. It’s going to impress fans immensely I’d imagine but it’s very hard on newcomers whereas other sims I’ve played have better options in place to make it easier and more enjoyable – here it’s a clear case of if you’re not good, then you’re not going to have fun. However, whilst I can claim that it’s a poor entry for those unfamiliar with the sport, it’s clear that it was made for existing, hardcore fans who want an authentic experience that’s the next best thing to being a Formula One racer yourself. I don’t claim to be very good at racing sims and like to make use of any help that a game can offer, and I feel that I – like many newcomers will – have been at the starting line.
You can participate in the 2014 and 2015 seasons where you take control of a choice of racers across various teams (I picked Lewis Hamilton for Mercedes) and then race to work your way to the top. The matches are incredibly long and can go up to 50 laps, something that might excite hardcore fans but not those who are looking for an enjoyable way to kill time without dedicating an immense amount of time to it, and I found myself becoming bored even when I lowered the races to the lowest amount of laps. I preferred to play single matches where I could race a reasonable amount of laps, such as 3, and become accustomed to the game without losing interest quite as quickly – there’s an option to save midrace because they’re so long! It makes a daunting task feel even more tedious.
The actual handling is mostly solid although there doesn’t seem to be much difference in how each vehicle uniquely handles, meaning you’ll likely end up picking a team with your favourite racer when you start a season rather than because of the team – it’s made solely for fans though, so this makes sense as most will want to play as their favourite person. It’s harder to play than most sims I’ve played, not helped by the lack of accessibility, and so I personally had a hard time enjoying it. I have a friend who’s a massive F1 fan who’s familiar with the sports rules who’s able to get along with it better, being able to accept and find enjoyment in the things that I struggle to.
There are various other modes to entice you, all of which revolve around racing (duh), and online multiplayer and it seems to follow Bandai Namco’s tradition in having generally stable online connections! I don’t see the game having a very long and flourishing life online though, as I’ve noticed with most sims I’ve played. There are a varied amount of tracks from all over the world which I found impressive though, providing plenty of scenery with dynamic weather which you can also set in quick race mode, which leads me into what I found to be the best part of the game…
The visuals. It looks like a PS4 game and has far better human models than most racing sim games bother with, and so it stood out even more. The cars themselves look fantastic and highly detailed, and the cockpit mode (which I opted to play in most of the time) did well in putting you directly behind the wheel and onto the tracks. The standout part here though is the weather – it’s dynamic and ranges from sunny to heavy rain, giving you a multitude of options to compete in. The rain sounds authentic as it pounds your car, helping to go a step further in making F1 feel like an authentic game that fans will be pleased with.
Being a racing sim, it features very little music and instead focuses more on commentary and the sound of the vehicles and weather which I have no problem with; I do miss having music as it helps motivate me more, especially as I’m not an F1 fan. I assume fans will be better suited to say how each vehicle sounds and if it properly represents them or not but they all sounded fairly similar to me with small changes as, of course, not every engine is the same and they can meet different speeds, etc.
Fans will love F1 2015 – I’m pretty sure they will – but it’s highly punishing to newcomers and does very little to change that. This will be the first F1 game for many fans who might’ve only gotten into it in the last year or so and unless they’re willing to lose a lot and dedicate an immense of time to the game, I doubt they’ll want to return when F1 2016 inevitably hits. Fans may read this and go pick it up but if you’re new to the series or just fancy a new racer, then it’s worth looking at gameplay or giving it a go yourself before buying it. I really do love the weather, though.