Version tested: Xbox 360
These are their words. "We want F1 to become an annual brand like FIFA," Steven Hood, the game's chief designer, said in an interview last year. And so it was. As for the Electronic Arts football simulation, the guys started from the excellent foundations of the previous edition, but above all from the substantial corrective patch and user feedback to put on track a product that represents a good step forward, with many corrections, adjustments and different brand new game modes. Suffice it to say that the safety car has finally been implemented (present in the races with over 20% of the total laps) and that, to be honest, already fixed during construction last year, there will no longer be stops without end waiting for their turn to exit the pits. There is obviously much more, but more generally it is possible to say without a shadow of a doubt that the English guys have worked well, not just resting on their laurels, probably realizing the title they would have liked to publish in 2010.
What's new? The Career mechanism has remained unchanged, we start with a low-profile team to attempt the climb to the world championship and to the top teams, reaching race-by-race goals, challenging your teammate and answering questions from the press. All played in an immersive and realistic perspective of the seasons, given that whatever one says and does has an impact on the development of the car and on one's reputation in the drivers market perspective. The mechanism works, especially in the first seasons when we sweat in the back rows and gives us further incentives to move forward, filing the times in practice and giving our all in the race in the internal challenge of the team. Here too the same problem we saw twelve months ago returns, namely that the interviewer's questions tend to repeat themselves: certainly not the multiple choice dialogues of Mass Effect for charity, but also wanting to be brazen with the press and not very honest with technical, if the competition objectives have been reached there does not seem to be a strong impact of our sentences on the continuation of the season.
It will not be a fundamental feature capable of profoundly changing the gameplay, but it certainly achieves the purpose of making the staging of the circus even more realistic and televised. Once the career years have ended, a range of possibilities opens up, both online and in single player. Alone it is possible to dedicate ourselves to the dry grand prix and challenge the time trial, or to the "Controtempo", which offers real scenarios in which to race according to pre-established conditions, such as weather, tires and obviously the car and track, trying to win the gold. In short, a nice way to test ourselves and not just a simple more to extend the duration of the game when you cannot access the network. Still on the news side, we can now dedicate ourselves to the Career (or to the single Grand Prix) in two on the same console via split screen. Once online in the real competitive part, the grid will be complete with sixteen players ready to compete and eight managed by the CPU. While brand new in this version we find the Online Career, with all the annexes and connected, playable in two as teammates, obviously with a separate save compared to the single player one. Needless to say, such a mode will trigger all that kind of situations given last year at Red Bull, with the drivers who will compete not only for the points but also for the development of the car, with the CPU indicating who is the first guide depending on their performance. In short, ten-year break-ups of friendships are expected in view of unpleasant team games.
The Career is fine, the scenarios and the cooperative locally and online are fine, but once behind the wheel, how is the feeling of the car? During the previous meetings with the developers and in the preview, many words were spent on the improvement of artificial intelligence, on a greater importance of damage, not only derived from accidents, and more generally on a greater sense of likelihood of the race. . Our review confirms the intentions of Codemasters, the work done in this sense is undoubtedly good, all inserted in a guide model that thanks to the many settings available goes from being easy and immediate (but never too arcade) with everyone the aids activated to rather challenging and more than punitive if you decide to rely only on your own handle. The developers have been good at realizing truly scalable handling, in short, it is enough to lower the traction control by a notch to immediately notice important changes at the wheel, which force us to rethink our driving style, without however a sharp rise in the learning curve. .
Playing with the settings and with the difficulty level (four available) allows us to better configure our gaming experience, just do not abuse it, however, since the average (inter) challenge rate is certainly not a stumbling block and if chosen together with the activated aid can make F1 2011 all too easy in some situations, with Massa model opponents, that is slow and not very accustomed to overtaking. Our advice is to start as a Professional and turn the aids on or off as needed. In short, everything like last year. There is distinctly greater attention to the reproduction of the disconnections and the different types of grip of the tracks. The cars jolt and break up, and if you decide to play without help curbs and small excursions become our sworn enemies, also because you have to completely forget the brutal openings after the braking pain big turns, with consequent losses of precious seconds and risk of accidents if in full brawl or at the start (so the replays at our disposal are useful, up to a maximum of four). With this in mind, as previously written, F1 2011 it becomes a tough and demanding title, and one that requires some practice and not a cheerful Sunday trip guide with your arm out the window. Does this mean that we are facing an all-round simulation? The pedigree of Paul Jeal, Senior Producer of the title, sees among his past works a masterpiece such as GP Legends and this is already a good indication of the approach of the developers. Our feeling is that there are obviously trade-offs, the console user is so vast and heterogeneous that it is impossible to make a drastic choice either way, but the extreme scalability of the title allows everyone to enjoy F1 2011 as well as possible.
In online matches it is evident that those who play with aid are certainly a step above those who decide to go out on the track without. Codemasters has implemented a system in which those who activate the aids, depending on the rank reached (there are also some objectives here), will "enjoy" a greater weight that will penalize the car compared to the others. This is so that the more experienced players are not too advantaged, especially in the wet, consequently populating the high parts of the rankings both with small Vettels and inexperienced Karthikeyan, and obviously to push the players to try the title to the maximum of the driving model. without assistance.
The damage pattern, and the various contingencies of the race help reinforce this feeling. The incidents last year have given the impression of being under-sized to avoid frustration, especially on the grand prix played in its entirety. Now the situation has certainly improved, "catastrophic" collisions (and by catastrophic we do not mean rollovers and fronts, but broken nose pieces, suspensions and punctures) are more frequent and force us to return to the pits for the necessary repairs. At the same time, however, the distinction between important and light damage is not very clear, and when the CPU tells us that something is wrong the machine is not unbalanced as it should, continuing to run as if nothing had happened. Progress in this area, but not as strong as we would have expected. On the other hand, the implementation of a system of "loss of performance" according to our driving style is spot on. The cleaner this is, the better the car will run, the more aggressive, dirty and without regard for the engine and all other mechanical parts, the sooner it will wear out with important long-term consequences. And always on the verisimilitude front, it is nice to note how Kers and the moving wing (be careful never activate it when cornering!) Are not always available. As we see on television they often tend not to work, and only after a few laps will our engineer tell us if the problem has been solved. Good artificial intelligence, more "frenzied" than in the past, provided of course not to go down too much with the level of difficulty. They fight up front, even making mistakes quite often, and when they are behind us, if they can't use Kers and DRS (the mobile wing) we will often see them try real daredevils, trying to slip even in the tightest corners. Beware of your own trajectory though.
In various situations we were penalized, with the judges giving us a nice illegal block, because even though we didn't see the opponent alongside us (at most a fleeting appearance of the nose as if it were a glitch) we tightened it, throwing it out. In this case, the directional arrows that warn us of the position of the other riders and the mirrors are not enough, when you are in full brawl it is better to lift your foot if you have the quick reflexes to do so, and try a nice counter-overtake. Ultimately, more than the scalable driving model, improved but not too much damage and aggressive AI, what makes F1 2011 the atmosphere on the race weekend is really close to reality. If you decide to "manualize" everything, including race strategies, breaks, dynamic weather, tire wear - to be brought up to temperature for a better grip - and gasoline, inflexible race judges, Kers and DRS that break and (finally) the safety car, the Codemasters title immerses us fully with great effectiveness in the Circus.
F1 2011 rewards the player with 38 achievements for a total of 1000 points. Most of the objectives are unlocked with simple play and career progression both online and locally, while the more difficult ones are obtained with special conditions, such as lapping six cars in a race, winning 9 races in a row, winning a Monte Carlo with the damage activated after kissing a wall, or lap in five successive laps with times around a quarter of a second difference.
Technically speaking, there are no evident improvements compared to last year, even here we are talking about evolution and not a distortion of a really well-made product. The frame rate is always the same, anchored to thirty frames per second albeit with sporadic slowdowns. The cars are polygonally rich, with detailed textures with good, but not great, work in terms of refractions. On the other hand, all the effort put into the elements on the track is of a certain weight, the restyling of the circuits is important, with even the addition of entire architectural elements that were missing last year, certainly with more than enough detail. The game is not, however, free from small criticalities, venial sins we could say, but present. We cannot fail to mention textures that are evidently not too detailed and at a lower resolution than average in the pit scenes, both of the drivers and of the mechanics. We understand nothing transcendental, but the detachment is evident with everything else. As usual, the Ego graphics engine shines when it comes to staging small squalls or real storms. We all know what rain means in F1, that is the eternal dance between intermediate and wet tires and the loss of grip even on the straight.
To complicate everything, as those who have played the previous version know, the credible and terrible effect of the water raised by the machine in front of us and which practically makes us blind. As beautiful to see as it is scary to suffer. On the audio side, it is worth noting the useful invasiveness of the engineer via radio, certainly much higher than last year. It tells us everything you need to know, it doesn't just tell us to push harder. It informs us about the other riders, who enters and who exits the pits, which tires are fitted, the race pace, the condition of the brakes and tires, whether they are broken or presumed to be so. In short, even from this point of view the immersion factor is total. Of course, sometimes he comes out with opponents on his heels when they are several seconds behind, small errors perhaps dictated by the stress of the race.
F1 2011 represents a nice evolution compared to the previous version. Codemasters was able to listen to users, correcting where there was to be corrected and adding where it was necessary to add. In this perspective, the inclusion of the online cooperative career and split screen is more than welcome. The driving model is good, adaptable to everyone, the damage system a little less good, improved but still not too incisive. Technically of great impact, albeit with some flaws, with the 30 frames per second that are felt.
- Many corrections compared to the past year
- Online cooperative career and split screen
- Total immersion in the Circus
- Damage improved, but not too much
- Artificial intelligence has some problems with aggression
- 30 fps and some visible technical magic