Another year, another Formula One game, and maybe this year’s will be a little different to the “fill the gap” versions we’ve had as the last few instalments. I’ve not played one since we reviewed F1 2014, not that I was disillusioned by 2015, more that when you’re excited during the actual live season you want to play along… not wait until September/October when everything has been practically decided and there aren’t many races left. This year Codemasters and Koch Media are releasing the game on 19th August, just before the summer break ends and the competition starts to ramp up. They’re also introducing some new features this year that should endear the game more towards the hardcore fanbase, but hopefully won’t alienate the casual gamer who just wants to be Lewis Hamilton*.
What we’re in for this time round is the most in-depth career mode to date that lets you build your driver from rookie to legend over a ten seasons of racing. Like with any racing driver, performance will be the key to winning the world drivers championship, and you’ll be able to move between teams as and when the opportunity arises. However, staying in the same team and developing your race engineer alongside you might also prove to be the way to go. Codemasters are promising drama on and off the track, so we can only speculate what that means – though I guess it won’t be a photo shoot for the latest watch sponsorship, or appearing in court for driving like a loon on the roads.
On track action is where it’s at though, and additions to this year’s game include the new virtual safety car, performing the parade lap before the start of the race, manual race starts, manual pit lane entry, and even managing your speed down the pit lane. These are all great ideas for the major F1 fanatics, but we’re assuming that they’ll be optional for the gamers that just want to get into some wheel bashing and wing clipping with their rivals. It won’t be limited to AI either, there’s multiplayer support for up to 22 people, so expect the chance to race a full grand prix with others determined to run you out of room on one of the 21 tracks from the current season.
If you want to put some money down on the Limited Edition of F1 2016, you’ll nab yourself some exclusive helmet and laptop designs, as well as a head start in the career mode – maybe a wealthy oil benefactor to buy your way into a mid-tier team? That would be true to the sport. It’s all looking and sounded very good at the moment, and the updates might be enough to elevate this into the best F1 game in the last few years. What we do know is that it looks stunning so far, and with you doing the racing it will be infinitely more exciting that watching two Mercedes romp away with victories all season long.
*Disclaimer – no member of the Codec Moments team wants to be Lewis Hamilton, we’re all Jenson fans here, but we recognise his merchandising appeal (begrudgingly).