F1 2011

Review: F1 2011

I’m a big fan of Formula 1 and it’s my highlight of the weekend when there is a Grand Prix. Unfortunately I was late comer to F1 2010, only picking the game up this summer but in that time I had a lot of fun with the game. After that I was keen to buy F1 2011 on its release and it was a good job I did – it’s one of the best racers I have ever played and by far the best F1 game to date.

I’ll start the review off by talking about the changes from last year’s instalment. There’s quite a few. First of all is the introduction of KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) and DRS (Drag Reduction System) which are a welcome addition and give the game an extra sense of realism. KERS proves very useful when accelerating from a slow turn or giving the car essentially an extra boost whilst on a straight. DRS on the other hand allows for you to achieve a much higher speed on the straights, by at least an extra 10mph. They both work flawlessly and have been implemented into the game very well. There are also changes to the tracks and race calendar tying in nicely to the 2011 season. The Grand Prix in Bahrain has been replaced by the Indian Grand Prix. Also the German Grand Prix now takes place on the Nurbergring circuit.

There have also been changes to the multiplayer. The most noticeable is the new Coop Championship. In this mode you and an online friend can complete a whole F1 season racing for the same team. You need to complete practice sessions, qualifying and of course race day in all 19 Grand Prix’s. It’s really good fun and turns out to be very competitive. I was lucky enough to just win the championship whilst playing with my coop partner. It had been a close run up until the last few races where I took 25 points every time. In my opinion it’s the best feature on the game. However, it doesn’t come without some slight issues. The main one is the difficulty of the AI drivers which is very poor and unchallenging, even on Legend difficulty. In some races they will be unstoppable and in others you find yourself lapping them twice in a 14 lap race. Inconsistent would be the best word to describe it.

The multiplayer is really enjoyable but like last year it has many issues. First of all the XP and ranking system ahs slightly changed. This year you are able to gain and also lose a rank. You gain XP for finishing in higher places and lose XP for crashes, collisions and finishing in a low place. I think I prefer the old system as lower skilled drivers on the game, like me, will find it difficult to maintain a higher rank as winning races is something that doesn’t come around too often. However, it does penalise reckless drivers online which I find is a good point. There are many issues with connection errors and lag. This is present far too often. When racing against other people they will randomly appear in front of you, even though they were a second behind you. Also you witness people drive into walls and then magically re appear on the track undamaged. It’s very confusing. It affects the overall racing experience online and has caused me not to return to it for prolonged periods.

In my opinion the visuals have taken a step backwards. The cars seem to lack that polish and don’t look as good as last year’s models. The tracks look great though; they have more detail and look clean. I found the tracks to be quite barren and blurry in F1 2010. The side mirrors that are visible in cockpit and helmet cam are still completely useless – they don’t show the track behind at all. Frame rate issues are still present – expect it to stutter frequently. Loading screens are quite long as well considering there isn’t that much content. When you compare it to GT5, content wise, loading screens are far too long in proportion. A good point is the dynamic weather which is a real strong feature of the game. When it is raining heavy it simply looks fantastic. The spray off the cars and water droplets on the screen are very realistic.

The career mode is just as good as it was last year and has all the same features. After you have chosen your team and made your driver in an interview session you are ready for your first Grand Prix. The AI difficulty (different to online AI) is fairly poor at lower stages but put it above medium and you have a real challenge on your hands. Career mode is a great place to get use to playing around with all the different customisable options for the car. The suspension, engine and brakes etc. can all be altered; either to your driving style or to be able to face the current track conditions. With the option on long or short race weekends there is a lot of play time available and any F1 fan will enjoy completing the season. However, I think non-racing fans would become bored by the time the season has been completed as it does become repetitive.

There are also time trails and time attacks to complete in the Proving Ground section of the main menu. It is a great feature for those people who are competitive when it comes to online leader-boards. Time trail simply revolves around you setting the fastest lap on a given track. Time attack is slightly different as each one has a different scenario. For example one time attack will ask you to complete a lap ofMonzain Heavy Rain whilst driving for Renault. All times are graded by either a gold, silver or bronze medal. It offers something fresh compared to the same Grand Prix’s over and over again.

Splitscreen is now included in the game. It doesn’t look great which is understandable but it is great fun with a friend sat by your side. Unfortunately you can’t do practice or qualifying in split screen, only the main race. The points system is present though so expect some rivalry and competition.

Overall F1 2011 is a fantastic game and without a doubt the best F1 game to hit the shelves. It does come with a lot of issues, most notable the connection problems online, frame rate drop and the slight downgrade in visuals. The addition of KERS and DRS improves the racing experience, making it more strategic. The new Coop Championship and split screen are both a great inclusion, the amount of fun that can be had in each mode is endless. F1 2011 is simply a must have for any F1 or racing fan.