Lap it up
Review It’s a funny old sport, F1: an ever changing maelstrom of rule adjustments and technology upgrades, ensuring any given season is entirely disparate from the next. Imagine if FIFA suddenly deemed that football’s throw-ins were to become kick-ins, before adjusting the rule once more the next.
That’s precisely the issue facing F1 teams where, by way of example, changes from last season to this include the introduction of the Pirelli tyre, the option of deploying the drag-reducing DRS rear wing adjuster, the reintroduction of the KERS boost, and the end of the adjustable front wing.
Round the bend
Coping with such drastic, ever changing demands while simultaneously remaining competitive is perhaps the main challenge facing your average F1 team and now, having acquired the official licence, it’s the challenge of Codemasters too… and hasn’t it done well?
F1 2011 overhauls almost every part of F1 2010 that caused the occasional gripe among the sport’s hardcore petrolhead following. Where before AI-powered drivers barely recognised your existence, they now make practiced, intelligent manoeuvres in a bid to overtake. Where before cars felt a little too slippery to handle, they now feel perfectly weighted and the previously basic online mode has been rebuilt from the ground up.
As for perhaps its biggest limitation, that this is after all a game based entirely on a largely processional sport, well that’s been addressed too, up to a point. Cars of the various teams handle markedly differently – a big improvement on 2010 – while enough artistic license - particularly at easier difficulty settings - has been granted to allow opposing teams to compete with each other, so keeping proceedings interesting while safely navigating the Red Bull/Vettel dominance seen in real-life F1.
But don’t despair, race fans - crank up the difficulty and the usual suspects will all be putting in the quickest lap times.
Smoking up the rear
F1 2011 is also, out of sheer necessity, a game of compromise; when you think that a true F1 sim would be all but impossible to drive for mere mortals, it stands to reason that Codemasters has once more had to compromise when it comes to the handling of the cars. How they’ve negotiated this hurdle, however, is highly commendable. The player is able to choose from a whole suite of options and customisations in order to bring the game down (or up) to fit their racing ability and quantity of disposable time.